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Thursday, August 5, 2010



Scotland, 1863. 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 requests 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 quite 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 more 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.


I'm not sure how to set this book. It is indeed an historical novel occurred in the Victorian era, but it has many elements of thriller, mystery and even satirical humor. What I can say is that this book is unique and is sure to please a very large audience, it has a bit of everything for everyone.
The narrator of this story is the fantastic and unusual Bessy, a teenager who escapes from the mother, a woman with no scruples that sold her for sexual exploitation. The girl eventually finds employment in a degraded rural mansion as a maid to the beautiful and eccentric Arabella that studies the maid as guinea pigs and has her record her conclusions in a small book called Observations. The history of the book is set all around the relationship between the two with a few brief references to the past of Bessy.
The narrative point of view of the character is lovable, sometimes joyful, sometimes sad, sometimes childish, sometimes lucid. The two main characters have many facets that are richly explored throughout the book, making it a historical novel so different from usual.
I also quite liked the satirical side of the book through the character of Bessy that caricatures the moral values, customs and hierarchy of Victorian society.
This book will, for all its qualities and its diversity, to please all readers.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010



At a New Englandboarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape.

A Pandora's box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices--those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal--that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.

Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her own greatest work, Anita Shreve delivers in TESTIMONY a gripping emotional drama with the impact of a thriller. No one more compellingly explores the dark impulses that sway the lives of seeming innocents, the needs and fears that drive ordinary men and women into intolerable dilemmas, and the ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions.


This book has a very controversial issue and when we start reading we are, definitely, left without knowing exactly what can come out of a book with a plot so bold.
In an elite school where appearances and reputation of the students are valued, for the repoutation of the School depends on theirs, an orgy occurs between Sienna a 14 years old girl and three young boys. Everything would have gone by as a mere sexual experience (although a bit extreme) would it not had been shot and taken to the Director and then have been disseminated via the Internet.
Young boys participating in the orgy with Sienna are held accountable despite claiming that she had provoked them, the case is considered sexual abuse of a minor by the other three youngsters are already mayors of age.
Thus a situation that could be an almost innocuous experience will not only cause a hurricane on the lives of young people who took part in it, but for their familes, as well as the small community they belong to.
The innovative in this book, beyond the daring of its theme, is the story is told by various points of view, not just for the young people involved but also their parents and part of the community. This constant change of perspective has contributed to the enrichment of the story, it allows us to understand the various sides of the story in a much broader and the disastrous consequences that will have the discovery of this orgy.
The book is extremely well written and is of great boldness and daring, giving the reader an addictive reading, which admits no long pauses.