The Observations, by Jane Harris

Emma Hagestadt
Friday 02 February 2007 01:00

Victorian pastiche in the Sarah Waters mode, Jane Harris's latest novel, set in 1865, comes embroidered with lashings of hyperbole and gothic fancy. The novel's spunky narrator, 15-year-old Bessy Buckley, is on the run from a life of prostitution. She finds herself a job with Arabella Reid, the chatelaine of an estate outside Edinburgh. Asked to perform various bizarre tasks, Bessy is also asked to keep a journal. Her mouthy outbursts are part of the novel's clamorous landscape: "Hell's teeth, how can I explain the wretched despair I felt, except to say that my heart was banjaxed..."

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments