The Observations

❰BOOKS❯ ✭ The Observations Author Jane Harris – A powerful story of secrets and suspicions hidden histories and mysterious disappearances set in Victorian ScotlandScotland 1863 In an attempt to escape her not so innocent past in Glasgow Bessy Buckl A powerful story of secrets and suspicions hidden histories and mysterious disappearances set in Victorian ScotlandScotland In an attempt to escape her not so innocent past in Glasgow Bessy Buckley—a wide eyed and feisty young Irish girl—takes a job as a maid in a big house outside Edinburgh working for the beautiful Arabella—the missus Bessy lacks the necessary scullery skills for her new position but as she finds out it is her ability to read and write that makes her such a desirable property Bessy is intrigued by her new employer but puzzled by her increasingly strange reuests and her insistence that Bessy keep a journal of her mundane chores and most intimate thoughts And it seems that the missus has a few secrets of her own including her near obsessive affection for Nora a former maid who died in mysterious circumstances Giving in to her curiosity Bessy makes an infuriating discovery and out of jealousy concocts a childish prank that backfires and threatens to jeopardize all that she has come to hold dear Yet even when caught up in a tangle of madness ghosts sex and lies she remains devoted to Arabella But who is really responsible for what happened to her predecessor Nora As her past threatens to catch up with her and raise the stakes even further Bessy begins to realize that she has not uite landed on her feet The Observations is a brilliantly original endlessly intriguing story of one woman’s journey from a difficult past into an even disturbing present narrated by one of the most vividly imagined heroines in recent fiction This powerful story of secrets and suspicions hidden histories and mysterious disappearances is at once compelling and heart warming showing the redemptive power of loyalty and friendship A hugely assured and darkly funny debut The Observations is certain to establish Jane Harris as a significant new literary talent.The Observations

There is than one author with this name in the GR databaseJane Harris was born in Belfast Northern Ireland and raised in Glasgow Her short stories have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies and magazines and she has written several award winning short films In she received a Writer's Award from the Arts Council of EnglandShe started writing by accident while living in Portuga.

Hardcover  · The Observations PDF/EPUB ò
  • Hardcover
  • 406 pages
  • The Observations
  • Jane Harris
  • English
  • 03 September 2015
  • 9780670037735

10 thoughts on “The Observations

  1. says:

    The Modern Victorian Novel a Scrummy dish for All the FamilyIngredients½ cup Wilkie Collins3 oz finely ground Sarah Waters2 oz Crimson Petals and Whites1 lunatic asylum1 Railway disaster or if not available a Coal Mine Explosion will do3 or 4 Drunks and Uncouth PersonsA fresh bunch of Scullery Maids and Servants1 Master1 Mistress1 Rambling Manse2 CrowdsA large bag of hard luck5 teaspoons of child prostitution2 oz grated Freudianism3 lb meaningful dreamsUndercurrents of Lesbianism to tasteAs much droll slang as you can stomachToss together in a big manuscript and hope it all comes right in the endThis was a bit of a shaggy dog story or shaggy maid story where you think every part of this novel is pinched from somewhere else but heck it’s still fun and anyway tell me something that’s completely original in this day and age right? This is post post modernism or wherever we’re at beyond irony beyond plagiarism if it feels good do it So this was fun fun fun till her daddy took the t bird away Which is to say that the problem was not in the telling of the tale that was rollicking if tonally precarious to the point of no longer being slightly credible but who was counting; the problem was that the tale spluttered and melted and came apart the denouement could not match the buildup a shame really With a whizbang plot instead of a lot of peculiar circumstances gesturing vaguely towards a plot this would have been a corker but without one it’s all a bit mere It was a big bag of Cadbury’s Caramel Nibbles – O my God did I just eat the whole bag?? And you’re left feeling a bit guilty but you got to admit you liked it while you were doing it POSTSCRIPTMy favourite line from this novel Even a wet wasp will crawl towards jam

  2. says:

    This was uite an interesting read The story started terribly exciting and promising but the second half was a bit disappointing Maybe because I expected a surprise ending found it a bit predictable Still a great gripping book but do not read with the expectation of a twist endingIf you liked this you might also like The Vanishing by Sophia Tobin

  3. says:

    35Scotland 1863 An Irish young woman with a dubious past is unexpectedly taken on as a maid at a Scottish estate The lady of the house has haunting secrets of her own secrets whose conseuences could lead to tragedy Sounds like the typical “Neo Victorian” novel which has become so popular since the likes of Sarah Waters and Michel Faber burst on the scene And in my ways it is But unlike lesser imitations of Waters Jane Harris' The Observations has a defining characteristic which singles it out in a crowded market – the fresh streetwise slangy narrative voice of its feisty protagonist “Bessy” By turns comic and touching the strength of this novel is the way in which Bessy’s tale takes us in It is not the plot which does the trick – although it has enough twists and turns to keep one hooked it is ultimately no match for say Waters’ Fingersmith or the original sensation novels of Wilkie Collins or Mary Elizabeth Braddon However in her remarkable storyteller Bessy Harris has created one of the likeable and memorable characters of recent fiction

  4. says:

    I LOVED Bessy the narrator of this novel What a character Very gutsy very outspoken honest and to top it all off she has a sense of humor The novel itself had an entertaining mysterious plot What seems to be irrelevant and unrelated happenings actually ends up being tied together in a bow by the end of the book It did however have a rough beginning The narration is shoddy and difficult to read at first The reason is explained at the end and the reader actually realizes how very appropriate it is In order for the novel to read like this girl's journal the writing is much as people spoke back then But as the girl matures and improves writing wise the novel blossoms the texts changes and becomes easier to read So those that are put off by the beginning language do keep going Bessy's thoughts and observations as she plods thru a difficult life of a maid in the Victorian times will have you laughing out loud as well as shaking your head in sympathy

  5. says:

    Review from BadelyngeThe heroine and faithful scribe of this tale is one Bessy Buckley or so she introduces herself She's a young Irish girl running away from a mother who has ruthlessly exploited her from an early age She arrives at a ramshackle mansion somewhere near Edinburgh where she is taken on as a housemaid by the mistress of the house Arabella Reid The 'missus' as she calls her soon has young Bessy confused and bewildered by a succession of seemingly random and mostly pointless reuests And every night she must write an account of the day's events along with her inner thoughts Despite all this Bessy develops a fierce loyalty for her mistress and then she finds out by the chance discovery of Arabella's in progress book 'The Observations' what the object of her devotions is really up to and tellingly what her opinions of Bessy are What happens next is best left for the story to tell but it is a fascinating read that weaves Bessy's dark past the mysterious fate of her predecessor Arabella's paragon of all house maids Nora and Arabella's own secrets into a startlingly engaging narrative mystery Bessy is a wonderful character who colours her tale with the most vivid and sometimes lurid slang and collouialisms I'm often put off by such inclusions though in this case they are pretty much essential to the style and don't distract at all Though being a native of northern England where many of the expressions are still in common use or fondly remembered from use by my Grandparents I could be immune from irritation than the average reader Bessy is also not averse to casting ridicule on the people she recounts by exaggerating or over annotating their speech patterns and accents The she despises them the extreme the exaggeration I think it's no accident that Hector the sex obsessed Highlander gets the brunt of it The Observations is an excellent début novel I've read the latest book by Jane Harris 'Gillespie and I' which appeared some 5 years after 'The Observations' so if you enjoyed this book I'd recommend you look it up with all due dispatch

  6. says:

    Although at times this was creepy atmospheric and even funny with nice character arcs for two main characters it needed to be cut by at least 30% For a book over 400 pp long it wasn't really worth the time At around 300 pp it would've been a four star book at least

  7. says:

    Set in the mid 1800's in a rather dilapidated Scottish manor related in a Gothic style one would expect this to be a very dark novel Thanks however to the wonderfully humorous character Bessie the darkness has great periods of light Her uirky saying and phrases are a joy to read This is a slow to build novel and after 400 pgs I was expecting a big reveal That didn't happen and I was a little disappointed but glad I read anyway

  8. says:

    I had reason to leave Glagow this would have been about three four years ago and I had been on the Great Road about five hours when I seen a track to the left and a sign said 'Castle Haivers' Now there's a coincidence I thought to myself because here I was on my way across Scratchland to have a look at the Edingurgh castle and perhaps get a job there and who knows marry a young nobleman or prince I was only 15 with a head full of sugar and I had a notion to work in a grand establishmentNot only that but this lad from the Highlands had fell into step with me the past hour he would have been about my age and he had been to get a tooth pulled He kept dragging his lip down to show me the hole I was sick of this boy and his grin and his uestions fair are you going? fair do you live? fwot is your name? fwould you like to lie down with me? — all this I had told him a whole clatter of lies hoping he would go away but he was stuck to me like horse dung on a road sweepers shoe So begins Bessy Buckley's account of events that transpired at Castle Haivers Impressed by the name she expects to find a grand estate but is met instead with a run down home and the owner's wife chasing down a pig The beautiful Arabella Reid just so happens to be looking for a maid and Bessy is uick to assure her she's had plenty of experience a fiction which is uickly dispelled but Arabella Reid's greatest concern is whether Bessy is able to read and write and when our heroine demonstrates her abilities to Arabella's satisfaction she is taken on as hired help When she asks for permission to read her mistress agrees and hands her a book it was called Bleak House I hoped it wasn't an omen says our girl By Bessy's own admission she is a terrible maid and knows not the first thing about housekeeping but this doesn't seem to concern her employer Mrs Reid's main interest is in reading her new maid's daily entries in a journal she has instructed her to keep encouraging her to describe her days in great detail and relate all her feelings and impressions Then there are strange tasks to perform and tests to submit to such as sitting and standing repeatedly on her mistresse's command and being subjected to having detailed measurements taken of her body and facial features Both mistress and maid have plenty to hide and when Bessy discovers Arabella's secret she is deeply hurt by it which sets her on a course of action which will eventually lead to a complete mental breakdown and the intervention of a doctor intent on using the latest techniues and drugs available in these Victorian times to restore his hysterical patient to health Bessy is a highly amusing narrator one who uses colourful language and imagery and doesn't shrink from disclosing to us details of a sordid past which help to explain the strange attachment she has formed with her employer My conclusion Jane Harris's debut makes for a riveting read — From June 2012

  9. says:

    1863 and Irish teenager Bessy Buckley an intelligent streetwise yet tender hearted girl leaves Glasgow where she has had an abusive past forced into prostitution at ten years of age by her mother to make a better a life for herself and comes into the employ of Arabella Reid in a beautiful mansion named Castle Haivers near Edinburgh she develops an infatuation with her glamorous but unstable mistress and is all to eager to please Arabella who performs strange experiments on her But this changes when she discovers a journal of her mistress entitled 'Observations' on the 'habits of the domestic class' in which Arabella says some uncomplimentary things about young Bessy and also reveals her infatuation for a previous maid named Nora who died in mysterious circumstances Hurt and incensed Bessy decides to play a childish prank to get revenge but this sets in motion a series of weird and dangerous occurrences and many twists and turns Humorous witty at times sad and at others chilling but always impossible to put down and always a magnificent read this novel has it all I fell in love with Bessy and it was her wonderful witty tart pert adorable and warm hearted character with a wonderful turn of phrase such gems as 'pigs pizzle' 'I could't give a fleas fart' and 'Jesus Murphy' This makes sure the book was never dull As you come to know Bessy you will want to follow her adventure to the end A cast of Dickensian characters which Bessy interacts with makes this one of the best debut novels on the 2000s This is a wonderful read and cannot be recommended enough

  10. says:

    I was born Irish But I'm of the Scottish persuasion now Bessy Buckley narrates with a direct honest and often bawdily descriptive slang She used to be something other than a maid as well uick on her feet and not one to give herself away unless absolutely necessary she is starved for love and attentionShe meets Mrs Arabella Reid who is a bit of an intellectual and is at work on an interesting project When the Missus learns that Bessy can read and write she decides to hire her as the 'in and out' girl at her estate Castle Haivers Bessy is eager to please her new mistress even when her reuests are rather unusual Mrs Reid gives Bessy a journal and asks her to record her daily activities When Bessy's discovers Arabella's true feelings for her she decides to play an elaborate joke on her mistress The joke has unfortunate and unforeseeable conseuencesThe story has a rich and evolving uality to it Bessy's narration changes and matures as she does She describes the countryside of Scratchland and the propriety of the Victorian era with an eye for detail I enjoyed listening to her story and was sorry when it ended Jane Harris has been compared to Sarah Waters and I have to say there is certainly a similar flavor about their work I will be looking for Jane Harris' next novel

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