Gillespie and I by Jane Harris(4 out of 5)
I should have started my week and read this book first!
The book begins in the 1930’s in London. Harriet Bexter tells of her unusual friendship with one tortured artist, Mr. Ned Gillespie. The story of that friendship- the central setting for which the entire novel is built upon- begins in Glasgow, Scotland at the International Exhibition. There’s a lot of setting in this novel- the art scene, the foggy streets, the whisper of cool, crisp air, a lot of scenery playing part in the setting of the tale. I actually haven’t read a book in a while where there was such detail. I did enjoy that, because of the time period presented here(over 40 years) and the disparity in personalities.
Ned and Harriet hit it off immediately. She ends up hanging out with his family in a number of weird situations(there are parts where she does the washing, dishes, cooking, cleaning. I thought, honestly, she may have been moonlighting as a maid). Ned and Harriet form a lasting friendship, although there were moments throughout where you felt she had an unrequited love for him, despite his marriage and having two children. You meet the one daughter Sybil right off the bat in the first 20 pages, and you kind of have a feeling where this story is leading. Ned’s other daughter Rose is kidnapped. The ransom note leads to Harriet being accused and jailed of kidnapping Rose, while Sybil loses her marbles and ends up in a loony bin. You still wonder, as I did, after you finish the book- if there was more to it than we thought. I think there was- I also question Harriet’s sanity and wonder- should she have been roomies with Sybil at the loony bin? That’s another reason I really enjoyed it- I KNOW for a fact if I go through and read this again in a couple of months, I will find stuff that I completely missed the first time. I kept on reading, despite the fact that it clocked in at almost 500 pages. You have the feeling that this is “Harriet’s” memoir and some form of resolution to the riddle of her friendship with Ned Gillespie. Gillespie’s character, while intriguing, pissed me off. It seemed as if he was stringing Harriet along, just to have the attention of someone outside of his marriage. That character struck me as narcissistic and dramatic, not the good sort. Harriet was truly the character I enjoyed. I enjoyed the hell out of this book. I advise you to read it. It reminded me a lot of Thomas Hardy’s novels, except there’s more of a sense of humor than a sense of foreboding. I will say that if you think all’s well that ends well, you need to read a different novel.