Gillespie and I by Jane Harris
Source: free from a GoodReads FirstReads giveaway for my honest review
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
It pains me to give this book such a low rating, especially since I was so looking forward to reading it and most grateful for having won a free copy from GoodReads’s First Reads program.
I must say that I simply did not care for this book. I felt compelled to finish it and wanted to see how it ended, but I found myself really not caring about the story and certainly without any affection for the main character, Harriet Baxter. She seems nice enough, but is written as so “proper” that I felt very distant from her as a reader, even though the book is written from her point of view.
To summarize without giving too much away, Harriet befriends the Gillespie family while visiting Glasgow in the late 1800’s. She decides to stay in the city longer and a great tragedy occurs that ends with Harriet on trial -- a trial that seems to go on for ages with one outlandish accusation after another.
Before the trial, we get to know a bit about Harriet. She is English, unmarried and of independent financial means. She appears to be the type of person who “kills with kindness.” She is just overbearingly helpful and oblivious to the fact that her actions make others uncomfortable at times. She comes across as desperate for friendship and approval. In the chapters where she is an older woman, I found her character to be obsessive, strange and quite honestly, distasteful.
The writing was too descriptive at times and I found the book in general to be very tedious. It took me 20 days to finish it and that is extremely unusual for me. I felt the same issues and situations were revisited over and over again and not much interesting happened (and certainly nothing unexpected).
Perhaps I missed it, but the overwhelming thought in my mind when I finished this book was, “what was the point of that?” I have yet to come up with a decent answer to that question.
I have heard nothing but wonderful reviews of Ms. Harris’ first book, The Observations and I will certainly give that title a chance, but I sincerely hope it is better than this one.