Thursday, 25 October 2007


AUTHOR: Jane Harris


DATE READ: October 2007

NOTES: The Observations is narrated by Bessy, an illegitimate ex-child prostitute who becomes (almost by accident) a maid to the beautiful but slightly unhinged Arabella Reid. The book recounts their life together and their changing relationship. Bessy is cynical, outrageous, funny and totally lacking in respect for her “betters”. Her tough narrative voice carries the book along effortlessly. There are some really sinister moments and the plot keeps you guessing until the end.

There is a wealth of weird and wonderful supporting characters and some good sub-plots (such as the erection and unveiling of the new town drinking water fountain). At one point Bessy sends a manuscript off to publishers but only receives in response a range of negative responses such as ‘sorry, not quite what we are looking for’. I can only assume that this is taken from Jane Harris’s earlier attempts at publication! Thank goodness someone had the good sense and foresight to publish The Observations.

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