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Gillespie and I

Gillespie and I [Kindle Edition]

Jane Harris
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Product Description


`An absolute belter.' --Bidisha, Saturday Review

`In Gillespie and I, Harris has pulled off the only too rare double whammy - a Booker-worthy novel that I want to read again.' --Daisy Goodwin, Sunday Times

`A compelling, suspenseful and highly enjoyable novel -- but what stands out is the way in which this narrative provokes us to think again about what we imagine, and what we hope for.' --John Burnside, The Times

`Harris writes with a gorgeous delicacy and wit, and the richness of her vocabulary makes one aware of how impoverished that of many modern novelists is.' --Amanda Craig, Literary Review

`A chilling tale reminiscent of both Kate Summerscale's The Suspicions of Mr Whicher and Julian Barnes's Arthur and George.'
--Suzi Feay, Financial Times

--John Burnside, The Times

'Brilliantly plotted.' --Sunday Times


"To say anything more would be to give away the plot, which is too delectable to spoil."--Washington Post

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1037 KB
  • Print Length: 522 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0571275168
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Fiction (5 May 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571238270
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571238279
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #57,421 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Jane Harris was born in Belfast and grew up in Scotland before moving to England in her 20s. Her first book "The Observations" was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007 and the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger in 2009. Her second novel "Gillespie and I" was shortlisted for the National Book Awards in 2011 and the Scottish Book Awards in 2012.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
99 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect summer read 12 May 2011
I've never been the quickest of readers but this vibrantly written novel, weighing in at 500 plus pages, so engrossed me I devoured it in just 4 days. It seemed so innocent at first, beguiling me with its engagingly described cast of characters.
In 1933 Miss Harriet Baxter sits in her Bloomsbury apartment, tending to her caged finches and writing her memoir of the times she spent with Ned Gillespie over 4 decades earlier, an up and coming young artist, her dear friend, she dubs him, her soul mate even.
At once we are informed that her friend Gillespie and his young family are ill-fated, that the tale will end in tragedy, a tragedy so deep that the young man will destroy his life's work and take his own life. The first half of the book follows Harriet, then a thirty something spinster, as she relocates from London to Glasgow after the death of her Aunt, a woman who had brought her up after the death of her mother. In 1888 Glasgow hosts the first International Exhibition and Harriet decides to rent rooms nearby to take in the spectacle. A chance encounter, amusingly recounted through Harriet's memoir, brings her into the orbit of the Gillespie family, her timely extraction of half a set of dentures from the back of an old lady's throat, who turns out to be Ned's mother, is the first step on the road to what lies ahead. Over several months Harriet becomes almost part of the household, finding opportunity after opportunity to ingratiate herself among them.
Just as we start to get comfortable with the happy set up, Harriet reminds us that there are dark times ahead - a trial even, though what crime is looming and who is to stand accused is left unsaid. Although leisurely, the narrative at no stage bored me. Despite its length I was always either entertained or intrigued.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant choice for a book club 15 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I chose this for my book club, and almost all of us loved it. However what was most interesting was the spectrum of opinion about what actually happened. Some reviewers have suggested, as did a couple of book club readers, that ends are left untied and the reader is left uncertain. These two were quick readers with lives too busy for pondering. It was only after I'd reached the end that I thought back through the story we'd been told, and gradually - and I must admit reluctantly - became certain of what had gone on; the clues are all there. As one other reviewer says, it made me want to read the novel a second time, to experience the story again from my new perspective.

To me this was a brilliant achievement by Jane Harris. She managed to slip things into the reader's mind that were only half-noticed. So subtle. I found the characters - particularly the narrator - psychologically authentic. I often reflect over - live with - a good novel for a few days after I've read it. But this was unusual in that several of us went on piecing together the clues over several days after finishing reading, before revising our view of things, and experiencing increasing certainty about what must have happened.

More than most novels, it is one you want to discuss with friends after you've read it. It is also tragic and heart-breaking, and still haunts me, just as a real-life story would, so convincing are the characters. The first half of the novel is quite slow-paced, but please do persevere, as you will be rewarded in the second half.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Ripple TOP 500 REVIEWER
The "I" in the title of Jane Harris's "Gillespie and I" is Harriet Baxter. Now elderly and residing in London in 1933, she is finally telling her events of what happened in the early 1880s in Glasgow and her relationship with the Gillespie family. At the time, a spinster of independent means, she arrived in Glasgow to visit the International Exhibition and became a champion of and friend to a young Scottish painter, Ned Gillespie and his young family. We know from early on that tragedy struck the Gillespie family leading to Ned destroying his career, but Harriet wants to set the record straight with regard to her involvement in events. You may or may not believe her story.

It's a highly readable story, full of wit and suspense that draws in the reader while unashamedly playing with our perceptions. It's a dark and compelling story and although the inferences are fairly strong, ultimately it is up to the reader to interpret events. It's beautifully written and paced.

"Gillespie and I" is also one of those books where to reveal anything about the plot is to ruin the experience. Suffice to say that it concludes with a court case whose outcome is uncertain until the final moments. But the great achievement of the book is in the character of the narrator. There's a touch of the Hyacinth Bouquets about her, and you will go through a range of emotions about her. Is she simply a slightly lonely but well meaning busy-body or is there something else afoot here. Certainly she seems unduly obsessed with the Gillespie family. But I will say no more than that.

Harris evokes the spirit of the times in her portrayal of Victorian Glasgow. Her cast are all wholly believable and the story evokes a range of emotions, from humour to sadness.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Totally could not put this book down, one of my fave's this year. It is a tale that builds up gently but consistently to a heart racing conclusion. Read more
Published 13 days ago by RW
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent - a great read!
Published 18 days ago by Charlotte Milligan
3.0 out of 5 stars A compulsive person !!
Had to read this for book club. We all felt that Harriet was a strange lady.
Published 2 months ago by Jim Elsdon
5.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of Evil
Jane Harris here tells a dark and chilling tale. Its final chapters create the atmospheric fear of a great Hitchcock movie. A fair warning - some might find it upsetting. Read more
Published 2 months ago by gerardpeter
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very pleased with all purchases
Published 2 months ago by unison
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Kept the book group discussion going all night and still debating
Published 3 months ago by Jennifer Hamilton
5.0 out of 5 stars I could not go to sleep!
This book has kept me awake for hours beyond any sensible bed time, it will haunt my sleep.
Unsettling and absolutely addictive.
Published 3 months ago by Alex
5.0 out of 5 stars An intellectual whodunnit...
I happened upon this by accident. I found the title unprepossessing initially but it does have an amusing ring to it, after the fact... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Uncle Barbar
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story
I liked this story because it is set in Glasgow and central Scotland. Jane Harris is a quirky writer, Gillespie and I is good but I recommend The Observations for sheer enjoyment.
Published 4 months ago by nyree
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic Book
This book is so different to anything I have read before and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I originally heared a little of the story when it was serialised on radio 4. Read more
Published 5 months ago by M. A. Willo
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