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The Observations by Jane Harris

The Observations (2006)

by Jane Harris

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1,303696,002 (3.68)237

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Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
This is an awesomely great book. I read it very slowly to savour the tension and mystery. ( )
  Charmella1 | Jul 11, 2018 |
A gripping story narrated by Bessy, maid and prostitute, in this tightly plotted romp of a debut novel by Jane Harris, set in Victorian Scotland. A real treat. ( )
  sianpr | Dec 24, 2017 |
Review: The Observations by Jane Harris. 11/05/2017

I love to read a great story set in the Victoria era. The writing and development of the characters were splendid. Harris also used some Scottish and Irish accented words throughout the book which enhanced the story even more. I also thought there was some Gothic style to the story. The story was told by a young Irish girl, Bessy Buckley who had a troublesome life that she was trying so hard to keep it in her past. Bessy was chosen from a brothel to be a companion to an elderly man who did get her off from the dreaded streets but after some time he past away.

Bessy decided to head to Edinburgh on foot to find a decent job when she meets Mrs. Arabella Reid, the missus of Castle Haivers, a run down manor with a working farm up on the hill. Some of the characters were creepy but they were justified in this story. Bessy was offered employment just what she was looking for and decided to give it a try. Bessy was mainly hired to work at the manor but sometimes she was asked to do farm work. Arabella’s husband was frequently away on business for long periods of time so Bessy was also company for the missus. Arabella’s tasks were weird at times but Bessy came fonder of the missus as times goes on.

One day Bessy discovers the missus is writing a bizarre research project in a journal about her and other domestic class people and was upset when she read what Arabella had written about her. Bessy revenge was cruel and emotionally hurtful toward Arabella and she knew she had gone too far and tried to reverse her actions by telling the truth but no one believed her. As the story goes on the events got worse. This was such a great heartwarming story and as the reader I had sympathy for Bessy and Arabella…. ( )
  Juan-banjo | Nov 10, 2017 |
I really loved this and am awaiting more from Jane Harris. Bessy's voice is unique, fresh, and charmingly scatological. ( )
1 vote Laurelyn | Oct 20, 2017 |
This was an interesting novel; one part comedy, one part gentle gothic horror, one part social commentary. But everything blended together rather nicely in the end. Bessy was a fantastic narrator and I love the way her backstory unfolded and how you could see she was always trying to distance herself from what really happened, as a coping mechanism. That was one aspect of the book that I didn't expect at all, but it gave Bessy -- and the book -- interesting somberness and depth. There was definitely a fine undercurrent of repressed sexuality throughout, too, via Arabella. ( )
1 vote majesdane | Aug 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
The book's size, its young criminal female narrator, its use of cross-class deceit and Wilkie Collins-influenced layering of plot twists may conveniently categorise it, but Harris's voice is an original one, and her rollicking yet delicate narrative pitch sets the book apart.
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For Tom -- without whose opinions, encouragement and love this book might never have been written
First words
My missus she often said to me, 'Now then Bessy, don't be calling me missus.'
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Haiku summary
Mistress studies maid
And ex-prostitute Bessy
To write her own book.
Bessy reads secret
Book of mistress: revenge will
Cause mental breakdown.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143112015, Paperback)

The Observations is a hugely assured and darkly funny debut set in nineteenth-century Scotland. Bessy Buckley, the novel?s heroine, is a cynical, wide-eyed, and tender fifteen-year-old Irish girl who takes a job as a maid in a once-grand country house outside Edinburgh, where all is not as it seems. Asked by her employer, the beautiful Arabella, to keep a journal of her most intimate thoughts, Bessy soon makes a troubling discovery and realizes that she has fled her difficult past only to arrive in an even more disturbing present.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:15 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

In an attempt to escape her not-so-innocent past in Glasgow, Bessy takes a job as a maid. Her "missus" demands Bessy keep a journal of her thoughts in this powerful story of secrets and suspicions, hidden histories, and mysterious disappearances.

» see all 5 descriptions

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