The Observations, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (11 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 - 5 of 11 reviews.

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I enjoyed this one a lot! Set in Scotland in the 1860s, it's about a teenage girl who ends up as a servant in a slightly decrepit manor house in the middle of nowhere, and gets mixed up in her mistress's mysterious past. Really well written, well enough for me to get over my usual dislike of writing in dialect, and I enjoyed the mystery elements.

Review by

Absolutely wonderful. I loved Bessy, the main character, she was so warm, funny and very real. This is a superb book. Not an awful lot happens in it to be honest, but the words were a joy to read.

Review by

I had to read this book as part on my reading group and I found it incredibly boring. If it had not been a reading group book I would have given up at page 200 and ultimately I skim read the last half. Very little happens and I couldn't have cared less about what did happen. I found the slang irritating and the style ponderously heavy. Bessie does come out with a few humourous comments but they are few and far between.If you want a good Victorian style novel try Fingersmith instead.

Review by

In Victorian Scotland, Bessy flees from her past in Glasgow and takes a job as a housekeeper in a country manor house. As Arabella, her mistress, starts to behave strangely, and strange things happen, Bessy worries that she might be caught up in something sinister.Bessy's course, crass, unintentionally funny, and always unreliable voice steal the show. The story is a nice Victorian thriller that will keep you guessing, and is a fair comment on the role(s) of women during that time, but Bessy is what makes this an exceptional read.

Review by

Enjoyable read with a great protagonist, she really does leap from the pages. Found the plot a bit lacking in places, but overall a good read.

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