Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Observations

Title: The Observations
Author: Jane Harris
faber and faber, 2006

This novel is set in Scotland in 1863 and its heroine, Bessy Buckley, has been rightfully praised. She is a delectable character - a take-charge gal who manages to be sweet and lonely as well as plucky and streetwise. She is on the run from her pimp mother when she becomes the only maid in a lonely mansion with a strange mistress. This story, however, was scarier than I thought (although I am easily frightened, I admit) and the image of a blood-shot eye unexpectedly staring out through a keyhole will stay with me. My only complaint: why must all spunky heroines in 19th century novels (written today) be ex-prostitutes? I believe there must have been a few other professions for poor people in the days of yore.

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