Vic Lit anyone This term pertains to contemporary novels which set out to mimic Victorian Literature While for the most part I usually find this genre to be lackluster and boring, The Observations by Jane Harris is a wonderful tale that contains both substance and story Set in 1863, our tale is narrated by Bessy Buckley, a 15 year old on the run from a dubious past in Glasgow She drifts into a job as maid to Arabella Reid, the mistress of an estate outside Edinburgh Bessy is requested to perform a series of bewildering tasks, but quickly becomes entranced by the eccentric and engaging Arabella There is a slightly sapphic connection between the two although any mention of such would not be lady like Since I am indeed a lady I will not go on about the finer workings of the story but suffice to say this would not be Vic Lit if one of our beloved main characters did not become feeble minded and loose touch with reality While Arabella s mind wanders, is revealed of Bessy s past Claiming to have been a housekeeper, dear Bessy is no such thing and has been a very very bad girl as of late She has done things that no upstanding lady would dare mention here The novel is highly episodic, and intentionally sensationalist, thick with the guttering candles and careening shadows of gothic parody Events are conveyed in a raucous, cursing first person narrative that give life to Bessy and thus the entire story. A Powerful Story Of Secrets And Suspicions, Hidden Histories And Mysterious Disappearances Set In Victorian ScotlandScotland, In An Attempt To Escape Her Not So Innocent Past In Glasgow, Bessy Buckley A Wide Eyed And Feisty Young Irish Girl Takes A Job As A Maid In A Big House Outside Edinburgh Working For The Beautiful Arabella The Missus Bessy Lacks The Necessary Scullery Skills For Her New Position, But As She Finds Out, It Is Her Ability To Read And Write That Makes Her Such A Desirable Property Bessy Is Intrigued By Her New Employer But Puzzled By Her Increasingly Strange Requests And Her Insistence That Bessy Keep A Journal Of Her Mundane Chores And Most Intimate Thoughts And It Seems That The Missus Has A Few Secrets Of Her Own, Including Her Near Obsessive Affection For Nora, A Former Maid Who Died In Mysterious Circumstances Giving In To Her Curiosity, Bessy Makes An Infuriating Discovery And, Out Of Jealousy, Concocts A Childish Prank That Backfires And Threatens To Jeopardize All That She Has Come To Hold Dear Yet Even When 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 Raise The Stakes Even Further, Bessy Begins To Realize That She Has Not Quite Landed On Her Feet The Observations Is A Brilliantly Original, Endlessly Intriguing Story Of One Woman S Journey From A Difficult Past Into An Even Disturbing Present, Narrated By One Of The Most Vividly Imagined Heroines In Recent Fiction This Powerful Story Of Secrets And Suspicions, Hidden Histories And Mysterious Disappearances Is At Once Compelling And Heart Warming, Showing The Redemptive Power Of Loyalty And Friendship A Hugely Assured And Darkly Funny Debut, The Observations Is Certain To Establish Jane Harris As A Significant New Literary Talent This was quite an interesting read The story started terribly exciting and promising but the second half was a bit disappointing Maybe because I expected a surprise ending, found it a bit predictable Still a great, gripping book but do not read with the expectation of a twist ending If you liked this you might also like The Vanishing by Sophia Tobin 3.5 Scotland, 1863 An Irish young woman with a dubious past is unexpectedly taken on as a maid at a Scottish estate The lady of the house has haunting secrets of her own, secrets whose consequences could lead to tragedy Sounds like the typical Neo Victorian novel which has become so popular since the likes of Sarah Waters and Michel Faber burst on the scene And in my ways it is But unlike lesser imitations of Waters, Jane Harris The Observations has a defining characteristic which singles it out in a crowded market the fresh, streetwise, slangy narrative voice of its feisty protagonist Bessy By turns comic and touching, the strength of this novel is the way in which Bessy s tale takes us in It is not the plot which does the trick although it has enough twists and turns to keep one hooked, it is ultimately no match for, say, Waters Fingersmith or the original sensation novels of Wilkie Collins or Mary Elizabeth Braddon However, in her remarkable storyteller Bessy, Harris has created one of the likeable and memorable characters of recent fiction. I LOVED Bessy, the narrator of this novel What a character Very gutsy, very outspoken, honest, and to top it all off, she has a sense of humor The novel itself had an entertaining, mysterious plot What seems to be irrelevant and unrelated happenings actually ends up being tied together in a bow by the end of the book It did, however, have a rough beginning The narration is shoddy and difficult to read at first The reason is explained at the end and the reader actually realizes how very appropriate it is In order for the novel to read like this girl s journal, the writing is much as people spoke back then But as the girl matures and improves writing wise, the novel blossoms, the texts changes, and becomes easier to read So those that are put off by the beginning language, do keep going Bessy s thoughts and observations as she plods thru a difficult life of a maid in the Victorian times will have you laughing out loud as well as shaking your head in sympathy. Review from BadelyngeThe heroine, and faithful scribe, of this tale is one Bessy Buckley, or so she introduces herself She s a young Irish girl, running away from a mother who has ruthlessly exploited her from an early age She arrives at a ramshackle mansion, somewhere near Edinburgh, where she is taken on as a housemaid by the mistress of the house, Arabella Reid The missus as she calls her soon has young Bessy confused and bewildered by a succession of seemingly random and mostly pointless requests And every night she must write an account of the day s events along with her inner thoughts Despite all this Bessy develops a fierce loyalty for her mistress and then she finds out, by the chance discovery of Arabella s in progress book The Observations , what the object of her devotions is really up to and tellingly what her opinions of Bessy are What happens next is best left for the story to tell, but it is a fascinating read that weaves Bessy s dark past, the mysterious fate of her predecessor, Arabella s paragon of all house maids, Nora, and Arabella s own secrets into a startlingly engaging narrative mystery Bessy is a wonderful character, who colours her tale with the most vivid and sometimes lurid slang and colloquialisms I m often put off by such inclusions, though in this case they are pretty much essential to the style and don t distract at all Though being a native of northern England, where many of the expressions are still in common use or fondly remembered from use by my Grandparents, I could be immune from irritation than the average reader Bessy is also not averse to casting ridicule on the people she recounts by exaggerating or over annotating their speech patterns and accents The she despises them the extreme the exaggeration I think it s no accident that Hector, the sex obsessed Highlander, gets the brunt of it The Observations is an excellent d but novel I ve read the latest book by Jane Harris, Gillespie and I , which appeared some 5 years after The Observations so if you enjoyed this book I d recommend you look it up with all due dispatch. Although at times this was creepy, atmospheric and even funny, with nice character arcs for two main characters, it needed to be cut by at least 30% For a book over 400 pp long, it wasn t really worth the time At around 300 pp., it would ve been a four star book, at least. Set in the mid 1800 s in a rather dilapidated Scottish manor, related in a Gothic style one would expect this to be a very dark novel Thanks, however, to the wonderfully humorous character Bessie the darkness has great periods of light Her quirky saying and phrases are a joy to read This is a slow to build novel and after 400 pgs I was expecting a big reveal That didn t happen and I was a little disappointed but glad I read anyway. 1863 Terra del Diavolo Bessy si sta allontanando da Glasgow con un unico obiettivo arrivare ad Edinmburgo e mettersi a servizio al castello reale Strada facendo, per , vede un cartello che indica il Castello di Haivers e l istinto la porta a fare una sosta che diventer una fermata Cosa riserva il futuro alla quindicenne Bessy Cosa nasconde il suo passato Intrigante e coinvolgente. The Observations is such a delightful read It tells the story of a girl named Bessy who takes a job as a maid of all work in a gloomy country house in Scotland in the mid 1860s.Bessy has a past she would rather forget, and so is grateful for the refuge her mistress Arabella offers her However, she soon comes to realise that not is all as it seems in the house, and that an earlier maid has died in rather mysterious circumstances With na ve optimism, Bessie sets out to find out what happened, and finds herself getting rather than she bargained for.The true pleasure of the book is Bessy s voice gutsy, wry, and vulnerable and the clever way Jane Harris weaves her narrative threads together.
There is than one author with this name in the GR databaseJane Harris was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and raised in Glasgow Her short stories have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies and magazines, and she has written several award winning short films In 2000, she received a Writer s Award from the Arts Council of England.She started writing by accident while living in Portuga
- 406 pages
- The Observations
- Jane Harris
- 19 May 2018 Jane Harris