Jane Harris – Gillespie and I (4 stars)

Fictional memoir combining warm late Victorian detail with well-crafted storytelling technique

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'Gillespie and I', a fictional memoir by Jane Harris, combines warm late Victorian detail with well-crafted sotrytelling technique

(Faber)

We first meet Harriet Baxter in 1933 Bloomsbury, as our elderly narrator embarks on her memoir. The focus from the off is on her magical encounter with ‘soulmate’ Ned Gillespie, Baxter soon becoming deeply embroiled in the lives of this talented young artist and his friends and family. For Jane Harris’ second novel, she guides us, as Baxter, between contemporary London and 1880s Glasgow in a warm, conversational style with lyrical descriptions of Scottish streets and scenery. But before long, sinister undertones are hinted at and clues are cleverly planted; all building the tension for the tragedy to come.

As events start simultaneously unravelling and falling into place, all trust and truth is questioned, and Harris excels in twisting and turning the story into something altogether more unsettling than we could ever have anticipated. It takes a writer of some skill to achieve this with the reader reduced to a mere plaything in the author’s hands, but with Gillespie and I, Jane Harris dazzles us in every possible way.

Anne Enright & Jane Harris

  • 4 stars

Anne Enright has steadily carved out a career as one of Ireland's funniest, most inventive and wisest writers, winning the Man Booker in 2007 for her novel The Gathering. Her new book is The Forgotten Waltz. Jane Harris' first novel The Observations was showered with praise, and her new book is Gillespie and I. Part of…

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