Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear Fascinating!

Maisie Dobbs (novel)
Maisie Dobbs  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"By the time she left  Maud Pettit's house in
Lambeth, Maisie had learned several things
she hadn't known before.
"She knew that Maudie had been assaulted
while walking from the factory to the brewery;
it was dark, so she had never known her
attacker--the father of her child.
"She discovered that Eddie had only ever been
bullied by one person, a boy who made fun of
him at school...
"But of the notes she had penned, the one that
 she would come back to again and again...
'I can't put my finger on it, but my Eddie
seemed to have changed lately...'"

Elegy for Eddie:
A Maisie Dobbs Novel

By Jacqueline Winspear

This is a well-loved series, but my first reading of this author. I can see why it is so popular! It is historically set and captures the mood and setting well. I must admit that my first thought was that Maisie Dobbs was another "Miss Marple" but was happy to learn that she was quite different. When I found this picture, I so enjoyed being able to visualize our investigator!

Her personal background story is not typical rags to riches and she still finds it difficult to realize that she is a woman of means...

So, when she heard that Eddie Pettit had been killed in a supposed accident, she immediately remembered him from her early years while she herself was in domestic service. So when a small group of men who worked on the streets came to her, asking her to check into his death, she was not only upset that something criminal might have been involved, she was anxious to solve the case!

Eddie had been a special child, slow in some things but a true "horse whisperer" if that term had been used then. Everybody in town depended upon him to come and gentle a new horse or find some way to heal him. In fact, his mother had been a victim and when the baby was due, she was still working in the horse stalls, and there she had her child. She had thought sometime that she might have done something to Eddie as she tried to keep him quiet, maybe cutting off too much air--she had to take the child to work with her, but could not risk having anybody find him. So Eddie had a horse nearby as he was bor and lived there helping when he could throughout his youth. He had grown to be a big gentle man who was always doing something for somebody and, slowly, began to learn enough to begin making money from his work.

We don't get to spend much time with him personally, but we learn about how people felt as Maisie began to check out what could have happened, for Eddie had been crushed in a paper mill, where he had just been traveling through to get to the horses that were used to pull their wagons... There had never been that sort of accident before...

I don't know whether Maisie plays a major character in all of her books, but I enjoyed the time she spent in introspection in this latest novel. Perhaps because she was interacting so much with the people who were friends when she was young? Or perhaps because her lover was pressing her to leave her work and become more involved in his social activities... For me, it added greatly in getting to know Maisie and I was pleased that she was a woman ahead of the times...

When things start falling together, including the death of Eddie's bully from school, who just happened to have been the man who had been running the machines, Maisie realizes that Eddie's death was because he might have learned something, or seen something...Then, her assistant is hurt badly when he is sent to discover anything among the men at a local bar.

This is a whodunit that moves through the clues, the findings, the interviews in a paced manner. Readers have plenty of time to ponder each step because soon Maisie is looking into the political world, including Winston Churchill (cool, right?!) and those that were supporting him, as they looked toward what was happening in other European countries. And some of the men she was looking at was the husband of her best friend, and a friend of her lover!

The amazing trail that readers follow was not only unexpected, but quite intriguing to follow! The book includes afterwords, and an interview, where the author explains that she had Eddie's part of the story based upon an actual individual and that she had to think carefully how to use it. I must add many kudos for taking a rough gem idea and molding it into a far-reaching novel that had potential world-wide impact! Truly fascinating!

If you've been following this series, I know that this will be a must-read! For those who are new to reading Winspear, do check out the entire series and I definitely recommend Elegy for Eddie to start!


Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in the county of Kent, England. Following higher education at the University of London's Institute of  Education, Jacqueline worked in academic publishing, in higher education and in marketing communications in the UK. She emigrated to the United States in 1990, and while working in business and as a personal / professional coach, Jacqueline embarked upon a life-long dream to be a writer. A regular contributor to journals covering international education, Jacqueline has published articles in women's magazines and has also recorded her essays for KQED radio in San Francisco. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a regular visitor to the United Kingdom and Europe.

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