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Gillespie & I

Gillespie & I

I seem to making a bit of a habit recently reading books about children going missing.

I recently read (and very much enjoyed) Still Missing, I read (and endured) the powerful but gruesome Beside The Sea and I’ve previously read (and highly recommended) I’m Not Scared – all of which feature children missing or dead.

I assure you it’s not wish fulfilment on my part. I love the Michael Macintyre line about never loving your children more than when they're unconscious but still breathing because, however badly behaved they've been, one look at them asleep and everything’s immediately forgiven and forgotten.

Instead, I can only assume this is because there is no greater agony than that of a parent, but particularly a mother, when something happens to their child nor is there any greater social taboo than doing harm to a child.

Gillespie & I is told by Harriet Baxter, an elderly woman in 1930s England embarking on a memoir of a forgotten artist called Ned Gillespie, whom she had known as a “dear friend and soul mate” before his suicide 40 years previously.

It quickly becomes clear from her narrative that her love and admiration for Gillespie borders on the obsessive and she is therefore not the most reliable witness.

So when we are first introduced to Gillespie and his family, whom Harriet meets when she saves his mother’s life by rescuing her from a choking fit on the street, we are struck by how ordinary and stable their life appears.

But, as we know, tragedy will strike. The question is where the responsibility for it lies and the extent to which we (as well as the characters in the book) are being manipulated…

A thoroughly enjoyable read. Just give your children a big kiss before you settle down to read it!