Wednesday, February 24

Jane Harris: The Observations

A young woman tries to escape her sullied past by taking a job as a maid in lonely house outside Edinburgh. She is fascinated by her beautiful new mistress, if somewhat confused by the lady’s increasingly strange requests. As her affection for her mistress grows so too does her jealousy toward her predecessor-a young woman who died under mysterious circumstances. Learning that her employer preferred the dead girl to her, she decides to ‘punish’ the woman. But her practical joke takes a turn for the serious and she soon finds herself caught up in a web of sex, lies and insanity.
Through it all she remains faithful to her mistress but can’t help but wonder what really happened to the other young woman and to make matters worse, her past is catching up with her, threatening to destroy the tenuous hold she has on her new life.
As the mysteries are unveiled one by one everything falls into place sending her life off on a tangent she never expected.
I really enjoyed this intriguing tale, particularly the unexpected ending. Though some of the secondary characters were a little clich├ęd, the main pair was quite well developed. Historical detail is scattered throughout with a light hand and the style imparts a strong sense of place.
It took me a little while to customise myself to the liberal use of dialect in the writing, something that I am not usually fond of but that works here. (And I was surprised at just how many words and phrases are still in use today-at least in my house).
This is an unusual story, and a step apart from others of its genre.-Lynn

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