Longlisted for the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction
Sitting in her Bloomsbury home, with her two birds for company, elderly Harriet Baxter sets out to relate the story of her acquaintance with Ned Gillespie, a talented artist who never achieved the fame he deserved. Back in 1888, after a chance encounter, young Harriet befriends the Gillespie family and soon becomes a fixture in all of their lives. But when tragedy strikes - leading to a notorious criminal trial - the certainties of this world all too rapidly disorientate into mystery and deception.
©2011 Jane Harris (P)2011 W F Howes Ltd
"A wonderfully skillful masterpiece"
This tale was brilliantly written and very well narrated. At first I felt that the pace was too measured but realized that this was part of the perfect rendition. The story was staged around the turn of the 19th Century and written in the first person making it an inciteful vignette of the time. The characters are beautifully understated and the tale well structured. It is the very "quiet" nature of the narrative that gives it such a powerful kick. It was long but not a word was superfluous. I look forward to more by this author and will certainly look out for narrations by Anna Bentinck.
"Chilling and Compelling"
Brilliantly read by Anna Bentinck (not only does she cope with a range of accents she even modulates her tone to reflect the 'young' and 'old' periods in the narrator's life) this audiobook had me gripped until the final seconds. It focuses on the tragic fate of the artist, Ned Gillespie as told by his close friend and great admirer Harriet Baxter. What becomes increasingly apparent however, is that this is only one, far from impartial, view of events...
Don't miss out on this one - the closing sentence truly sent a shiver down my spine!
Wonderfully written and expertly narrated, Gillespie & I is a chilling tale of altered perceptions, half truths and obsessive love. Jane Harris is a supremely talented storyteller.
"Like watching paint dry"
It said on the back 'literary crack cocaine.' I stopped listening after 4h 38m in which NOTHING HAD HAPPENED. It's a long book and I'm sure it must get better but, really, life's too short. There isn't even any pleasure in the mundane details of the lives of the characters, like there is with a really good writer. Just... nothing going for it. I'm returning mine.
This book is a bit slow to start but this is necessary to really build the story. It is well worth sticking with however, as the story develops the tension builds and you begin to question what is happening. A well written and thought provoking book which stayed with me for quite a while after I had finished it.
"Jane Harris and I"
Having listened to The Observations and enjoyed it very much, I had no hesistation in choosing Gillespie and I. Again skillful writing, great character development and a sort of undefinable creepiness makes this a very gripping tale. I loved the almost reverse premise of The Observations used in this book. You start off believing the main character is a nice, polite lady, but before too long the suspicion begins to overshadow her niceness. Well read by Anna Bentick who managed most of the Scottish place names with ease. I would recommend this audiobook to anyone who likes books that are not predictable.
"lacks pace and plausibility"
An over-rated book, I think. To start with, it is too long to sustain a pretty thin plot, and lacks both pace and narrative drive. The plot's plausibility gets preposterous towards the end, and the characters are not that convincing. The only thing that kept me going to the end was the outstanding narration. Anna Bentinck could recite a telephone directory and bring it to life. She certainly earned her money on this book.
I was uncertain about this audio book at first but it turned out to be an enthralling listen and superbly read by Anna Bentinck who dealt flawlessly with character changes so that this had none of the "flatness" that some audio books can have. I keep having to go back to the Ipod to "check" my understanding of what really happened or what I might have misconstrued. Set in Victorian Glasgow and switching to thirties London, the main character tells the story of the artist she befriended and their tragic tale.
"It just goes to show ..."
... things are not what they seem. A deceptive tale of obsession, self delusion and possibly madness, simply written and impeccably read in a variety of excellent voices and accents. The story becomes a bit ponderous at times - the reason I've not given it 5 stars - but it is only as the detail builds that the listener starts to question the self awareness of the narrator. Highly recommended.
"So subtle - and menacing"
The subtle and brilliant narration adds so much to the slowly unfolding story. By Part 2 I was finding the gradually rising sense of menace fairly uncomfortable - and yet, there is no real reason, at that point, to feel so tense! Such a cleverly written and read book - and a compelling listen.
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