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The Observations Hardcover – 6 Apr 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 131 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (6 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571223354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571223350
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 131 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 787,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

Harris's voice is an original one, and her rollicking yet delicate narrative pitch sets the book apart... This is a true one-off. (Joanna Briscoe Guardian)

The Observations, which is set in 1863, has all the necessary ingredients for a Rebecca-like absorption. There are enough twists and turns to keep a cynical adult reader up half the night. (Eleanor Byrne London Review of Books)

Bessy Buckley can hold her head up with Moll Flanders and Becky Sharp as a living, breathing mortal. What takes one away is [her] earthy voice, clear as a bell, ringing out her tale of love, loss and redemption. (Sarah Burton The Times)

Funny and original. What lifts the book out of the ordinary is Bessy's compelling narrative voice. (Peter Parker Sunday Times)

Bessy's robust narrative is by turns intriguing, alarming and very funny. The Observations adds up to entertainment of a high order. (Patricia Craig Independent)

Throughout 400 pages of mystery and intrigue, it is not the flawless plot that leaves the reader rapt but instead, Bessy's comic observations. (Daily Express)

A page-turning narrative. (Daily Mail)

The Observations is an astonishing imaginative feat, brilliantly written in bravura, bawdy style. Harris's richly comic, deeply touching novel is destined to be one of the publishing sensations of the year. (Jackie McGlone Scotland on Sunday)

This intriguing, ghostly read will have you hooked from page one. Fantastic. (Company Magazine)

Synopsis

So there I was with two pens, my two titties, Charles Dickens, two slice of bread and a blank book at the end of my first day in the middle of nowhere. Except as it turned out it wasn't quite the end ...Scotland, 1863. In an attempt to escape her not-so-innocent past in Glasgow, Bessy Buckley - the wide-eyed Irish heroine of "The Observations" - takes a job as a maid in a big house outside Edinburgh working for the beautiful Arabella. Bessy is intrigued by her new employer, but puzzled by her increasingly strange requests and her insistence that Bessy keep a journal of her most intimate thoughts. And it seems that Arabella has a few secrets of her own - including her near-obsessive affection for Nora, a former maid who died in mysterious circumstances. Then, a childish prank has drastic consequences, which throw into jeopardy all that Bessy has come to hold dear. Caught up in a tangle of madness, ghosts, sex and lies, she remains devoted to Arabella. But who is really responsible for what happened to her predecessor Nora? As her past threatens to catch up with her and complicate matters even further, Bessy begins to realise that she has not quite landed on her feet.

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