The Observations

The Observations

A Novel

Book - 2006
Average Rating:
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Baker & Taylor
Keeping a journal to record the increasingly unusual duties requested of her by her beautiful mistress, nineteenth-century Edinburgh scullery maid Bessy wonders about her mistress's secret relationship with a dead former maid and is tempted to risk everything she cares about. 30,000 first printing.

Blackwell North Amer
Scotland, 1863. In an attempt to escape her not-so-innocent past in Glasgow, Bessy Buckley - the wide-eyed and sharp-tongued Irish heroine of The Observations - takes a job as a maid in a once-grand country house outside Edinburgh working for the beautiful Arabella - the "missus." A city girl accustomed to other ways of making a living, 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 hire. Bessy is intrigued by her new employer but puzzled by her increasingly strange requests and her insistence that Bessy keep a journal of her most intimate thoughts. And it seems that the missus has a few secrets of her own. Nevertheless, Bessy is committed to starting a new life and devotes herself to her post, and to the missus.
Despite their insurmountable differences in class and comportment, Bessy and Arabella develop an affinity for each other, one that soon becomes tinged with dependence and mutual suspicion. As is usually the case in isolated Victorian houses, all is not as it seems. Curious to a fault, Bessy soon makes a troubling discovery about the missus and the maids who have come before her. And when a childish prank enacted out of revenge spins out of control, Bessy realizes she's fled one difficult past only to arrive in an even more disturbing present.

Baker
& Taylor

Keeping a journal to record the increasingly unusual duties requested of her by her beautiful mistress, nineteenth-century Edinburgh scullery maid Bessy wonders about her mistress's secret relationship with a former maid.

Publisher: New York : Viking, 2006
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9780670037735
0670037737
Characteristics: 405 p. ; 24 cm

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i
IV27HUjg
Jan 24, 2015

Parts of this read were funny, but maybe not to the American ear. I found much of it tedious, a bit redundant & in the end really lost all interest.

u
uncommonreader
Apr 24, 2013

This novel was fun to read. Set in mid-Victorian Scotland, it is the tale of an Irish maid, told with humour and without condensation. It is a mystery which holds the reader's interest. As Bessy tells the story, her writing improves, but she never discovers the apostrophe! It has some similarities to the work of Sarah Waters, but Harris is not there yet.

placebo Apr 24, 2011

Told by a young woman with a very amusing way of relating life. Loved the writting style and the plot was good too.

k
KarenW
Jan 10, 2008

It is always a pleasure to find a new author - and to find one with such promise is truly a great find! Jane Harris is more than clever as she sets about telling the tale of Bessy Buckle (was there ever such a comical name in literature!), a young woman on the road to success after trying the road to ruin. Set in the mid 1800''s, Bessy must find a new situation and comes across one quite by accident. She is taken in to be a housemaid to a very strange household and a very odd mistress. Soon she finds herself entangled in a web of lies and deceit. What Bessy then sets into motion may lead to a resolution or to disaster. The author''s astute use of slang brings a comical side to Bessy and at the same time subtly shows her true growth as a character as the book progresses. I would consider this a true hidden gem of a book!

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