Blogger Template by Blogcrowds.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment