Gillespie and I
Harriet Baxter is sitting in her flat in Bloomsbury in 1933 writing her memoir of events that took place in Glasgow in 1888 at the time of the International Exhibition. She recalls events surrounding her meeting of a talented artist, Ned Gillespie, and what follows is a dark tale of deception and tragedy which leads to an exciting criminal trial in the second half.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. You are kept guessing until the end of the novel, and you are left never knowing quite the whole story but still satisfied that it was all worth reading. Harriet remains an unreliable narrator, and you have to consider if she is an interfering busybody or a firm family friend. The ambiguity surrounding her adds to the mystery and enjoyment. The two narratives, one set in 1888 and the other in 1933, entwine together to provide an absorbing and well-written tale. In places the novel is quite creepy and menacing, with memorable characters and authentic setting, and at the same time shot through with Gillespie’s wicked sense of humour.
This story put me in mind of the sensation novels of the Victorian Gothic tradition, but even if you are not familiar with these, it is still full of atmosphere and well worth a second read.