The Observations, Hardback Book
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


"Vastly original. Bessy is surely one of the most striking characters in recent fiction: cynical, disruptive, tender and very, very funny." (Independent on Sunday).

It was shortlisted for the Orange Prize Scotland, 1863.

In an attempt to escape her past, Bessy Buckley takes a job working as a maid in a big country house.

But when Arabella, her beautiful mistress, asks her to undertake a series of bizarre tasks, Bessy begins to realise that she hasn't quite landed on her feet.

In one of the most acclaimed debuts of recent years, Jane Harris has created a heroine who will make you laugh and cry as she narrates this unforgettable story about secrets and suspicions and the redemptive power of love and friendship.


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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

I agree with what Kittycat in Amazon UK said:It made for an entertaining read, and the central character of Bessy was likeable enough. In my opinion there were a few loose ends that weren't tied up, which would have made the story ending much more satisfactory. I think there were directions the plot could have gone to make the plight of the Reid's and their unfortunate maids a little more gripping. The author would describe a character or Bessy's train of thought, and it would make me think, ahhh so that's what going on... and then she wouldn't take it any further. An example is the ghostly haunting. First, we know there is no ghost. Then, oh boy, there may actually be one! Then, probably not. I liked the idea that a ghost might really exist, but that part of the story never really developed. Nor were many of the characters allowed to develop. Who was the mysterious male partner of Mrs Gilfallan? A figment of Arabella's imagination? The vicar? Some characters come across as vaguely sinister, like James Reid, Bridget, Joe Dimpsey and some of the villagers, but they never really amounted to much. I wanted to know more about what made them tick. And what about Mr Levy's "remains" that Bessy popped into the velvet pouch? What has that to do with anything? The story could have ended in a bang, but just sort of petered out.

Review by

A riveting story of an Irish maid and the odd goings on in the 19th century Sottish household she is hired into. Original, with more heart and compassion than most novels ever achieve. Highly recommended. I am now looking for a copy to own as I will read it again. It was also a short list nominee for the Orange Prize.

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