My thoughts: This book swept me away from the first lines. To this reader of modern fiction, the voice of Harriet, our intrepid and delightful narrator, truly hearkens back to the setting of the novel. Harris combined period authenticity with modern sass, and I adored it:
"A preposterous name, and it occurred to me that, perhaps, she had made it up. I went on to ask a few questions about her family, and her reactions continued to be guarded. She told me that her parents were dead. I did manage to get a little more out of her. To my mind, it all sounds like a fairy tale. She claims to have grown up in a tiny cottage beside a well; her father was a shoemaker, and her mother, a washerwoman. Tempted to ask: 'And your grandparents--were they elves?' I managed to restrain myself, just in time."Most of the action in this novel takes place in Harriet's retelling of events beginning in 1888, but there are sections intermixed of what's happening as she's writing in 1933. I found both storylines fascinating, but what surprised me is how my perceptions of both changed as the book went on. What begins as a charming, quirky period piece became an increasingly dark mystery. This shift makes it quite difficult to discuss this novel without spoiling pieces of it.
Favorite passage: "We may have the vote now, and win Pulitzer prizes, and fly solo across the Atlantic, and these days, a female artist with a family might well earn a good living from painting, but in the privacy of the doctor's surgery, we are still made to feel insignificant, aberrant, even unnatural."
The verdict: I loved this novel, and I was sad when it ended. I want to spend more time with Harriet's quirky, fascinating tale. Gillespie and I was a compelling read filled with historical detail, fascinating characters and beautiful writing.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 528 pages
Publication date: January 31, 2012
Source: publisher via TLC Book Tours
Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Gillespie and I from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle version.) Want more reviews? Check out the full tour schedule.
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