In this latest entry in Jacqueline Winspear’s acclaimed, bestselling mystery series—“less whodunits than why-dunits, more P.D. James than Agatha Christie” (USA Today)—Maisie Dobbs takes on her most personal case yet, a twisting investigation into the brutal killing of a street peddler that will take her from the working-class neighborhoods of her childhood into London’s highest circles of power. Perfect for fans of A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, or other Maisie Dobbs mysteries—and an ideal place for new readers to enter the series—Elegy for Eddie is an incomparable work of intrigue and ingenuity, full of intimate descriptions and beautifully painted scenes from between the World Wars, from one of the most highly acclaimed masters of mystery, Jacqueline Winspear.
About the Author
Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestselling Maisie Dobbs series, which includes In This Grave Hour, Journey to Munich, A Dangerous Place, Leaving Everything Most Loved, Elegy for Eddie, and eight other novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller and a Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalist. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.
Date of Birth:April 30, 1955
Place of Birth:Weald of Kent, England
Education:The University of London¿s Institute of Education
Read an Excerpt
Elegy for Eddie
By Jacqueline Winspear
HarperCollins PublishersCopyright © 2012 Jacqueline Winspear
All rights reserved.
London, April 1933
Maisie Dobbs pushed her way through the turnstile at Warren Street station, then stopped when she saw Jack Barker, the newspaper vendor, wave to her.
"Mornin', Miss Dobbs. Paper today?"
"Mr. Barker, how are you this morning? It's very close, isn't it?
Summer's here before spring!"
"At least it ain't as hot as it is over there in America— people dying from the heat, apparently. Mind you, at least they can have a drink now, can't they? Now that their Prohibition's ended. Never could make that out."
"You know, you're the only newspaper seller I know who reads every single one of his papers," said Maisie. She took a coin from her purse and exchanged it for the day's Times. "And there's been a lot to read this year already."
"Ever since all that business about the body line bowling over there in Australia, it seems it's been one thing after another— and not very nice things, either. Not that I hold with bad tactics in cricket, whether it's ours or theirs, but I'm glad England kept the Ashes all the same.
Mind you, not my sort of game, cricket."
"Jack, I have to confess, I still don't know what that was all about. I never could quite understand cricket."
Maisie's comment fell on deaf ears, as Jack Barker continued his litany of events that had come to pass over the past several months.
"Then there was all the noise about that Adolf Hitler, being made Chancellor in Germany. What do you reckon, Miss? Seems the bloke's got people either worried or turning cartwheels."
"I think I'm on the side of the worried, Mr. Barker. But let's just wait and see."
"You're right, Miss Dobbs. Wait and see. Might never happen, as the saying goes. And then we'll all be doin' cartwheels, eh? At least we're not like them poor souls in Japan. I know it's a long way off, the other side of the world, and can't say as I've ever met one of them in my life— don't expect I ever will— but they say it was one of the worst earthquakes ever. Hundreds killed. Can't imagine what that would be like, you know, the ground opening up under your feet."
"No, neither can I— we're lucky we live in a place where that sort of thing doesn't happen."
"Oh, I reckon it happens everywhere, Miss Dobbs. I'm old enough to know it doesn't take an earthquake for the ground to break apart and swallow you; you only have to look at all them who don't have a roof over their heads or a penny in their pocket to put some food on the table."
Maisie nodded. "Never a truer word said, Mr. Barker." She held up her newspaper by way of a wave and began to walk away. "I'll look for the good news first, I think."
Jack Barker called after her. "The good news is that they reckon this weather will keep up, right until the end of the month."
"Good," Maisie called back. "Makes a nice change."
"Might be a few thunderstorms, though," he added, laughing as he turned to another customer.
She was still smiling at the exchange when she turned into Fitzroy Square. Five men were standing at the foot of the steps leading up to the front door of the building that housed her office; one of them stepped forward as she approached.
"Miss Maisie Dobbs?"
"Yes, that's me, how can I— oh, my goodness, is that you? Mr. Riley? Jesse Riley?"
The man doffed his cap and smiled, nodding acknowledgment.
"And Archie Smith—" She looked at the men in turn. "Pete Turner, Seth Knight, Dick Samuels. What are you doing here?"
"We were waiting here for you, Miss Dobbs."
"Well, come in then. You could have waited for me inside, you know."
Maisie unlocked the door, wiped her feet on the mat, and dropped her umbrella into a tall earthenware jar left alongside the door. The weather might be fine this morning, but she always took an umbrella with her when she left the house, just in case.
"Follow me." She turned to speak again as she walked up the stairs.
"Was there no one in to see you?"
"Oh yes, Miss. Very nice young lady came to the door when we rang the bell. She said we could wait for you, but we didn't want to be a nuisance. Then the gentleman came down and he said the same, but we told him we'd rather stand outside until you arrived."
Maisie could not quite believe how the morning was unfolding.
Here they were, five men she hadn't seen since girlhood, waiting for her on the doorstep, all dressed in their Sunday best, in the flamboyant way of the cockney costermonger: a bright silk scarf at the neck, a collarless shirt, a weskit of wool and silk, and best corduroy or woolen trousers, all topped off with a jacket— secondhand, of course, probably even third or fourth hand. And each of them was wearing their best flat cap and had polished their boots to a shine.
Maisie opened the office door and bid her two employees good morning as she removed her hat and gloves. "Oh, and Billy, could you nip next door to the solicitor's and ask if they can spare us a chair or two," she added. "We'll need them for an hour at least, I would imagine." She turned to Sandra, who had stood up to usher the men into the room, which at once seemed so much smaller. "Oh, good, you've brought out the tea things."
"We told the gentlemen they could wait in here, Miss Dobbs."
"I know. It's all right." She turned to her visitors. "I seem to remember this lot can be particularly proud, can't you, Jesse?"
The man laughed. "Well. Miss D—" Maisie cut him off. "I was Maisie to you when I was a girl, and I'm Maisie now. There'll be no standing on ceremony. Ah, here we are, more chairs. Thank you, Billy." Maisie smiled at her assistant as he returned with several chairs stacked one on top of the other. "Come on, all of you, take a chair, sit yourselves down and tell me what this is all about— I can't ever remember having a delegation of costers greet me, and at this time in the morning."
Sandra had taken the tray with china and a teapot to the kitchenette along the corridor, and in the meantime, with the men seated around her, Maisie perched on the corner of her desk. She introduced each of the visitors to Billy and waited for Jesse to speak. He was about the same age as her father, but, unlike Frankie Dobbs, he still worked his patch of London streets, selling vegetables and fruit from a horse drawn cart. She knew the reason for the visit must be of some import, for these men would have lost valuable income in giving up a few hours' worth of work to see her.
"We've come about Eddie. Remember Eddie Pettit?"
Maisie nodded. "Of course I remember Eddie. I haven't seen him or Maudie for a few years, since I lived in Lambeth." She paused. "What's wrong, Jesse? What about Eddie?"
"He's dead, Miss— I mean, Maisie. He's gone."
Maisie felt the color drain from her face. "How? Was he ill?"
The men looked at each other, and Jesse was about to answer her question when he shook his head and pressed a handkerchief to his eyes. Archie Smith spoke up in his place.
"He weren't ill. He was killed at the paper factory, Bookhams." Smith folded his flat cap in half and ran his fingers along the fold. When he looked up, he could barely continue. "It weren't no accident, either, Maisie. We reckon it was deliberate. Someone wanted to get rid of him. No two ways about it." He looked at the other men, all of whom nodded their accord.
Maisie rubbed her arms and looked at her feet, which at once felt cold.
"But Eddie was so gentle. He was a little slow, we all knew that, but he was a dear soul— who on earth would want to see him gone?" She paused. "Is his mother still alive? I remember the influenza just after the war had left her weak in the chest."
"Maudie's heart is broken, Maisie. We've all been round to see her— everyone has. Jennie's looking after her, but Wilf passed on a few years ago now. The grooms down at the bottling factory, the drivers at the brewery, everyone who looked after a horse in any of the boroughs knew Eddie, and they've all put something in the collection to make sure we give him a good send off."
"Has he been laid to rest yet?"
"This Friday. St. Marks."
Maisie nodded. "Tell me what happened— Seth, you start." Seth Knight and Dick Samuels were the younger men of the group; Maisie guessed they were now in their late forties. She couldn't remember seeing them since they were young apprentices, and now they were men wearing the years on faces that were lined and gray, and with hands thick and calloused from toil.
Knight cleared his throat. "As you know, Eddie made a wage from the work he did with horses. There wasn't a hot or upset horse in the whole of London he couldn't settle, and that's no word of a lie. And he earned well at times, did Eddie. Reckon this was after you left the Smoke, just before the war, but talk about Eddie's gift had gone round all the factories and the breweries, and last year— honest truth, mind— he was called to the palace mews, to sort out one of His Majesty's Cleveland Bays." He looked at Jesse, who nodded for him to continue. "But horses don't have a funny turn every day of the week, so Eddie always made a bit extra by running errands at the paper factory. He'd go in during the morning, and the blokes would give him a few coppers to buy their ciggies, or a paper, or a bite of something to eat, and he'd write everything down and— "
"Wait a minute." Maisie interrupted Knight. "When did Eddie learn to write?"
"He'd been learning again for a while, Maisie. There was this woman who used to be a teacher at the school, she helped him. He'd found out where she was living— across the water— and he'd gone to her a while ago to ask if she could give him lessons. I'm blessed if I can remember her name. Apparently, he'd been doing quite well with a new customer, and it'd finally got into his noddle that if he learned to read and write he might be better off in the long run. He'd started to pay attention to money. I'd say it was all down to Maudie, pushing him a bit. In the past all he did was hand over the money to her, and she gave him pocket money to spend on himself, for his necessaries. She put the rest away for him— she always worried that he wouldn't be able to look after himself when she was gone, you see."
Maisie nodded. "I remember her being so attentive to him, always. I was in a shop once— I think it was Westons, the hardware store; I must have been sent on an errand by my mother. I was behind Eddie and his mum, and she made him ask for what they wanted, even though he didn't want to. She went stone silent until he'd asked for whatever it was, and then counted out the correct money. No one tried to hurry him along, because people knew Maud was teaching him to stand on his own two feet."
Seth Knight went on. "Well, Eddie seemed to have a little bit more about him lately, as if he'd been keeping us in the dark all along. He started asking questions about how to save his money so it was safe - of course, it was hard for him to understand, and he'd come and ask the same questions again, but all the same, he was trying. Anyway, it turns out this teacher— Miss Carpenter, that was her name— had always had a soft spot for him at school. When he turned up, that is. Trouble with Eddie, as you know, he'd always been happier around horses, so even as a young boy, when he got a message to go and sort out a horse, Maudie never stopped him. And to be honest, they needed the money, being as it was only the two of them; Wilf and Jennie were there to help out, but Maudie always said they needed everything they had to take care of themselves, especially with Wilf coming home gassed after the war. He might as well have died at Plugstreet Wood, the way the pain took it out of him, after he came home— and he was older than most of them; he wasn't a young man when he went over there." Seth took a deep breath and looked down at his hands, the palm of one rubbing across the knuckles of the other. "Anyway, going back to Eddie, he'd started to write down the odd note when the blokes at the factory gave him their instructions, and I for one think he could understand more than anyone gave him credit for. In any case, he always came back with what they'd asked him to get for them, and he never made a mistake."
There was silence for a few moments, and Maisie knew that everyone was likely thinking the same thing, that Eddie wasn't really gone, that he was as alive as the stories about him.
Excerpted from Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear. Copyright © 2012 by Jacqueline Winspear. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
“Like any typical PI, Maisie is preternaturally acute and given to noticing tiny details, but it’s her compassion that allows her to illuminate some of the most pressing and staggeringly painful issues of her day, delivering unexpected answers and sense of peace to her clients-and her readers.”
“A heroine to cherish.”
“Reading Jacqueline Winspear’s Elegy for Eddie, the solid-gold ninth installment in a wonderful mystery series that shows no signs of flagging, you can’t help thinking that her nurse-turned psychologist-turned sleuth would make an ideal PBS heroine.”
“A detective series to savor.”
“Maisie Dobbs is a revelation.”
“A series that seems to get better with every entry.”
“For readers yearning for the calm and insightful intelligence of a main character like P.D. James’s Cordelia Gray, Maisie Dobbs is spot on.”
“When people ask me to recommend an author, one name consistently comes to mind: Jacqueline Winspear...Winspear chronicles the uncharted, sometimes rocky path chosen by her protagonist and delivers results that are educational, unique, and wonderful.”
“A work of great humanity and a stellar entry in a superb series.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Maisie Dobbs series, now with nine entries, has taken her from World War I, where she served as a nurse, to the cusp of the Second World War. In this novel, there are three themes which can tend to confuse the reader until the author brings them together and makes sense out of what at first appear to be separate subplots. To start with, a delegation from Lambeth, scene of Maisie’s childhood, visits her to engage her services as an investigator to find out how a young man died in a paper factory. The other two plot lines, one more personal to her than the other, has Maisie questioning her own motives and standards as well as her relationship with her lover; and the last involving the stealth campaign of Winston Churchill to prepare Great Britain for the possible war with Nazi Germany. The book is equal to its predecessors in characterization and human interest. Obviously, it is more political in tone than its forerunners, given the time in which it takes place: the depression era and rise of Adolf Hitler. While Maisie’s introspections may be overdone, they certainly are in keeping with the character. Recommended.
Maisie Dobbs displays an incredibly annoying ability to not understand that othef people are allowed to have their own lives apart from her, without letting her know what they are doing at every minute. Her conviction that she is being "lied to" because some of her acquaintances have facets of their lives that they cannot (or do not want to) share with her is wearing quite thin. I realize her calling card says Psychologist and Inquiry agent, but I didn't realize her brief included inquiring into everyone else's lives, whether bidden or not.
Winspear is never heavy handed with the history she blends into her Maisie Dobbs series. Strong characters and steady plots bring the era alive with significant if sometimes relatively obscure historical, political and social recollections. "Elegy" with its troubling and morally ambiguous theme (unresolved for the protagonist) typifies the books in the series--well-written, thoughtful, credible and appealing characters, always a pleasurable and worthwhile read.
“Everything good has a dark side, even generosity. It can become overbearing, intimidating, even humiliating – and no one likes to think someone else is pulling the strings….” Elegy For Eddie is the ninth book in the Maisie Dobbs series by British-born American author, Jacqueline Winspear. Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and private investigator, is asked to investigate the supposedly accidental death of a simple man with an uncanny gift for dealing with horses. Eddie Pettit was well-known and loved amongst the costermongers of Covent Garden, former associates of Maisie’s father, Frankie, and they are sceptical about the circumstances of Eddie’s death. As Billy Beale and Maisie try to discover a motive for his death, they learn that Eddie had certain special talents that were not apparent. Maisie discovers two other deaths that were ruled suicides but which strike her as suspicious, and Billy’s investigations land him in the hospital. His wife Doreen’s slowly-recovering mental health suffers a setback, and Maisie is taken to task for her need for control. Her relationship with James Compton takes a new direction, Maisie accepts counsel from an unexpected quarter and discovers a few surprising things about her father, her best friend’s husband and her lover. This instalment is set in April 1933, against a background of increasing Fascism in Germany that signals the possibility of another war. Winspear touches on the power of the press, the subtle use of propaganda, and the balance between freedom of information and the need for national security, as well as the position of women in society. Winspear develops her main characters more fully and her plot takes a few unexpected turns. Another excellent Winspear mystery.
The “Eddie” in the title is Eddie Pettit, born to an unmarried teenage mother in 1887 while she was mucking out a stable – a job that just barely keeps her out of the workhouse. All his life, Eddie had a special gift for working with horses. And now in 1933, Eddie dies in a freak accident at a printing plant. But Eddie’s friends, the fruit sellers in Covent Garden, don’t believe his death was an accident and come to Maisie Dobbs, daughter of their friend and former costermonger Frankie Dobbs, to investigate his death. Maisie takes on the job, only too glad to be of help to her father’s pals, whom she’s known since she was a little girl. And when her assistant, Billy Beale, winds up in the hospital after a beating sustained while asking questions about the case, she’s pretty certain that her clients’ suspicions about Eddie’s death are on target. Elegy for Eddie is a pivotal book in this award-winning series, a turning point for its protagonist. Maisie is still becoming accustomed to newfound wealth – which came to her when her mentor and friend Maurice died and left her most of his considerable estate. Maisie is always willing to use her money to help others, but in Elegy for Eddie, she’s confronted with the accusation, from a very credible source, that she may be using gifts to control other people’s lives. Maisie also realizes that she must decide what her relationship is to be with her lover, James, who wants a traditional marriage, meaning Maisie gives up her work. The Maisie Dobbs books are wonderful … it’s one series I collect in hardcover. I just want to own them. Elegy for Eddie is number nine, and it’s just about time for me to go back to #1 and read some of the early ones again. It’s that kind of series.
Several of Maisie's old acquaintances come to her office to ask for her help. They believe that their friend Eddie was murdered. Maisie sets out to find any clues surrounding death that might lead to this conclusion. I haven't read any Maisie Dobbs books before this one. But I do enjoy a good who-done-it or mystery novel. This book was okay, but it certainly wasn't great. The story seemed to meander slowly along without anything happening for long periods of time. Her indecision about her boyfriend and her previous life were irritating and didn't seem to fit with the story at all. I won't give any spoilers, but I wasn't thrilled with the conclusions either. They didn't seem to wrap up like a normal who-done-it should. This might be a typical Maisie Dobbs novel, I don't know. But it left me wishing I'd read a different book and not wasted my time. It wasn't awful, but with so many great books out there it's hard to waste your time on one that is only okay. I received this book free of charge from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.
Potential spoiler although I'll try not to say too much. I found the book to be a little slow, and I was disappointed as a key crime against Billy received no closure; key elements were not researched. There wasn't a cut and dried ending. I like the series, but this book seemed to focus too much on the politics and Maisie's ... self-introspection, which adds to the stories and Maisie's growth, but it was just too much this time. I suppose Maisie's past and current status, neither fish nor fowl, makes it difficult to commit to anything other than her business which she can control. It would be a difficult world to navigate, gender, class, academics, finances, etc. as she doesn't fit in her "place." She is called to task for her control issues, and I enjoyed those dialogues as the character is just a little bit too controlling and "mother knows best." I'm not sure why the series even involves a male companion as Maisie just sort flits along from man to man albeit slowly; I feel like I'm observing Goldilocks although she made a decision by third time. All in all, for my likes, it wasn't the best in the series. Like Anne Perry's current writings, it seems as though the writer is taking a breather and just coasting.
I have read all of the books in this series and this one was good. I could not give it a higher rating because I felt that it moved very slow.
I have been a fan of the Massie Dobbs series since the very first book. Ms. Winspears latest began with a great beginner. However, I was somewhat disappointed with the ending. Still a fan though and hoping that Massie stays with her friend, James. Actually, Ms. Dobbs is ahead of her time by being a private female investigator and having a love life. This makes the series very interesting. Looking forward to the next book in the series.
good mystery, long on the introspection of the heroine
This is the ninth novel in the Maisie Dobbs mysteries that take place in the aftermath of WWI. It is now 1933 and there is rumors of another war on the horizen.The story begins when some local market sellers seek out Maisie's help in a finding out what really happened in a suspicious death. This request sends the now wealthy Maisie back to her poor Lambeth roots to investigate the death of a "slow" but well-loved man named Eddie Pettit. As Maisie investigates more, she realizes that Eddie may have been in over his head involving matters of national security.Although this is only the second Maisie Dobbs novel I have read, I once again had no problem in understanding the plot and characters. These are great mysteries due to the time era, the issue of class and the compelling character of Maisie. This particular book focuses quite a bit on Maisie and her discovery of some possible flaws and issues she must deal with within herself.This is an excellent series and the ninth novel was well worth the read.
As Hitler comes to power in Germany Maisie solves the murder of a simple man in her childhood surroundings. Her struggle with commitment to her lover and the philosophical question of the ends justufying the means complicate the mystery
This is a Maisie Dobbs mystery set in England after WWI. Dobbs learns about the threat of Hitler and measures that many English leaders are taking to prepare for war. In this story, Maisie investigates the death of a gentle horseman. Eddie was born in the stable with horses and now he tends these gentle animals. Eddie is a simple and slow man, but he can draw. His drawing and simplicity end up causing his death. Winspear highlights the ending of dependence on horses, the coming of war with Germany, the loyalty of the downtrodden, and the life of the wealthy. In this book, Maisie realizes that she may not want to marry, but a possibility still remains in the end. The story is well written with the reader feeling sympathy for the poor people of England.
Set in 1933, the vein of stories tracing back to World War I seems to be at an end with this latest entry in the Maisie Dobbs series. Although this book briefly references the horrors of the first world war, it is evident that Winspear is heading the series toward the inevitable collision with the second world warl. Churchill appears, though only in passing, and is warning of the coming horrors of Fascism. I wonder if Winspear will continue the series in a strict chronology or if she will at some point soon just jump ahead to sometime in 1939 or so. Maisie is ideally situated to play a clandestine role in the battle against Hitler, and Winspear has been setting this up for quite a while now. I do wonder if Maisie is ever meant to be content and happy with her life and I fear hugely for Priscilla's boys. As always the sense of being transported to a distinct time and place is fulfilled by Winspear's detailed, sensitive writing.
If you are a fan of Jacqueline Winspear¿s mysteries set in London between the World Wars, when you read her last book (A Lesson in Secrets), you might have thought Maisie Dobb¿s life was getting all neatly bundled up¿love interest, check, financial well-being, check, good mental state, check, clear career goals, check. Perhaps overly settled. I almost thought things were getting a bit too comfy for Maisie, Winspear¿s sleuth. Where¿s the excitement in that? I shouldn¿t have worried. Jacqueline Winspear has written Elegy for Eddie (on sale March 27, 2012). Without any soap opera antics, just Winspear¿s impeccable, nuanced character development, Maisie is at sea again in a variety of ways¿all those comfortable expectations you were left with at the end of Lesson are unraveling¿and she¿s solving a mystery of a completely new sort. The Eddie of the title was an unusual man. Most people thought he was ¿slow,¿ but those who knew him well saw a lot more to him. He had remarkable talents, both obvious and hidden. He was best known for his mystical ability to quiet horses. That he was born in a stable doesn¿t quite explain this skill, although that¿s what the gossips say. When he dies in an "accident," the cockney costermongers of Maisie's childhood feel justice hasn't been done and they come to see her. Winspear¿s own love for horses comes out beautifully in this novel. And her elegy for a man who today might be labeled ¿special needs¿ is sensitive and deeply moving. Winspear never slips into clichéd ideas. That her idea for Eddie arose from the story of a real man, or the little fragment she heard about him, makes this even more touching.I was struck in the first part of the book by the absence of the shadow of World War II¿or so I thought. A Lesson in Secrets focused largely on this looming threat. But here again in Elegy, Winspear shows the insidious influence of both the World Wars, the one behind these characters and the one they will soon face. She draws with a sure hand the web of disaster closing in on England and America, and the corrupting effect of war¿s threat, even on men of good intentions. Here are ¿villains¿ whose crimes you may have to overlook and ¿heroes¿ whose secrets you may grow to despise. Winspear has tied together a page-turning mystery with a level of moral complexity rarely seen in the genre.
This book is every bit as good as the other books in the Maisie Dobbs series, if not better, in my opinion. The Maisie Dobbs novels are always a bit bittersweet, and this one is no exception.Maisie is approached by some childhood friends to look into the death of their mutual friend, Eddie. Eddie was a simple man with an innocence they all loved. However, in the last few weeks of his life, he was worried about something. His death appears to be an accident but it is doubtful. What had Eddie gotten himself involved in that led to his death?As Maisie investigates, she also has to deal with the threat of another war, her relationship with James and its challenges, and facing her need to control the lives of her friends and employees.This is a complex, somewhat sad, yet satisfying read. It is very well done, as usual. Heartily recommended for fans of the series.(I received this book through Amazon's Vine Program.)
Thank you to Harper for providing me with a review copy of this novel.I am a huge fan of this series and have read all of the books published to date thanks to Book Girl Jen's Mad for Maisie reading challenge last year. In this outing we see that WWII looms ever closer on the horizon and we get an inkling as to what it will mean to the beloved characters in this series. When a man from Maisie's youth dies under somewhat mysterious circumstances she is called on to investigate the death by her father's friends. As Maisie has known the man personally she feels a particular responsibility to discover the truth. The case soon becomes complicated and Maisie learns that there is a lot more at stake than the death of just one man. Although I love the mystery aspect of each story I often find myself frustrated with Maisie's actions in her personal life. I was just getting over the shabby way she treated her former suitor Dr. Andrew, who even though she gave him the brush off, doesn't seem mind using him whenever she has a need of his medical expertise. Now she is reverting back to the same pattern with her new love James. I wanted to throw the book when she was contemplating encouraging him to move to Canada and take up farming without her. When Maisie's assistant is almost killed, she seems to take offense when James shows concern for her safety. The hinted at parting of James and Maisie at the end of the book did not leave me hopeful for their future.I will keep reading the series because I love the world and characters Winspear has created. I just wish that there could be a novel where Maisie could find a little peace happiness in her love life but I see that it is not to be. With the onset of another war the future looks more bleak than ever for Winspear's characters. It will be interesting to see where Maisie's planned travels will take her in the next novel.
The BBC's Downton Abbey caused quite a stir (I myself was late to the party, watching both seasons on two marathon weekends), and increased interest in the post-WWI world in Great Britain. But readers have for years been immersing themselves in the same era with author Jacqueline Winspear's fascinating Maisie Dobbs' novels, set in London at the same time.Maisie was a young maid in Lord and Lady Compton's home (think Anna from Downton) who was caught by Lady Rowan in the library late at night reading. Lady Rowan realized Maisie's intelligence and potential and arranged for her to be schooled by Dr. Maurice Blanche, a well-renowned psychologist and private investigator.Maurice became Maisie's mentor, and Maisie was able to rise above her station and eventually became a nurse serving in France during WWI. Maisie was severely wounded and returned home to recuperate, and eventually take over Maurice's private investigation business.After Maurice died, he left his home and much of his fortune to Maisie. Overnight, she became a wealthy woman. She also fell in love with Lady Rowan's son and heir, James Compton. Maisie is a woman who owns her own business, has enough wealth to own a home and an apartment in London, and is able to financially help her friends and colleagues.In the newest novel, Elegy For Eddie, Maisie is visited by men she knew as a child, fruit peddlers from Lambeth. They ask her to investigate the death of Eddie, a forty-six-year-old man with the mind of a child. Eddie had a job running errands for workers in a newspaper plant and was killed when a bolt of paper crushed him.Maisie knew Eddie and the single mother who raised him. She took the case, and it brought forth many feelings to the surface for her. The class system in England was fairly rigid, and it was unusual for anyone, particularly a woman on her own, to move up. Maisie was living a life about which she felt increasingly uncomfortable.When she stays at James' family estate, she doesn't like the staff waiting on her. Ringing a bell for the next course of dinner feels unnatural to her. While she loves James, she begins to feel that the life he leads is not one she wants.Now that Maisie has money, she uses it to help her employees. She purchases a home in a good neighborhood and rents it to her loyal assistant Billy and his family after they lost a daughter to illness. She hired Sandra, who lost her husband, and let her move in with her. She also paid for Sandra to further her education.When Billy is seriously injured investigating Eddie's death, Billy's wife blames Maisie for putting her husband in danger. Maisie feels guilty, arranges for Sandra to help care for Billy's children, and gets him the best medical care.A doctor confronts Maisie about her 'helping' her employees. She asks Maisie to consider whether her help is "affecting their lives, making decisions on their behalf that they might not have made for themselves, or might come to at a different time." She suggest that Maisie may have been trying to get others conform to Maisie's view of the world.Maisie's best friend Priscilla tells her that by coming to the rescue of everyone, she could be causing people to resent her, as Billy's wife does. She explains that people don't like being beholden to someone, and that Maisie is depriving her friends of the "opportunity for them to be proud of something they've achieved.''This book in the series doesn't have much action, it is much more introspective. We see Maisie coming to a fork in the road of her life. She has to decide whether she wants to move forward with her relationship with James, and how to deal with her new station in life and her control issues.Maisie is an independent woman living in a turbulent time. This story is set in 1933, and England, weary from the losses of so many men in WWI, is now facing the possibility of another war. Hitler is causing problems in Europe, and Eddie's death may be tied to a newspaper publisher who is using his pow
In this latest installment in the series, Maisie is hired by the costermongers of her childhood to investigate the death of one of their own. What seems like a simple task eventually reveals a conspiracy involving the highest levels of society. While the mystery itself is not that complicated, the appeal of this books lies in Maisie's efforts to reconcile the girl she was with the woman she has become. She wrestles with questions of morality and independence, juggling the expectations of others with her dreams for herself. I enjoy watching her struggle to deal with her new-found affluence, attempting to help those in her life that are less fortunate without creating resentment or hostility.This series is a masterful look at England in the post-WWI years, and has given me a much better perspective on the war-weariness that made so many willing to turn a blind eye to the dangers of the rise of the Nazi party in Germany. Following as they do the struggles of women in this period, these books highlight the sad realities of a generation of women faced with a shortage of men to marry and forced to make their own way in a world not yet ready to accept that necessity.
I've read them all, I've reviewed most of them. And the more I read Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs books, the happier I am that I decided to grab that first book on a whim. Deep characters, twisting plots ... Winspear has created a world so immersive that it's easy to lose track of how much time you have spent reading. I've spent many a sleepless night with one of her books, constantly saying to myself "One more chapter and I"m done."Elegy for Eddie is no exception. What starts off as a simple case - Maisie is asked by some coster monger friends of her father's to investigate the suspicious death of a young man who had a way with horses - quickly turns into something much, much more. In the course of her investigation, Maisie even comes in contact with Winston Churchill himself!Winspear's knowledge of the era shows on each page, as the reader is surrounded by historical details and attitudes. And while we are searching for the truth behind Eddie's killing, we're also treated to some character development, as Maisie DObbs herself grows and changes a lot in this book. We've seen changing relationships before, but there's something about the change that takes place in this book that intrigues me. I'm certainly looking forward to future developments on this front (and I did that all without spoiling anything!).One thing that I've been looking for in the books for a while now that I haven't seen - early on, there were hints of Maisie's "intuitive" abilities, hinting that there was something more there. In fact, in An Incomplete Revenge, there was a lot made of her gypsy background, and I always thought that the series was going in that direction, but recent books have made little mention of it. That's the only real loose end that I've seen in the books, which makes me thing it's either something that Winspear decided not to pursue or that it's coming in a future book. I'm happy either way.I have recommended the Maisie Dobbs books to everyone I know who reads mysteries or enjoys books set in the 30s and 40s. The descriptions are spot-on regarding historical setting and attitudes, and the characters are fascinating and very deep. With this quality of writing, I don't look for this series to end any time soon, and for that I am truly thankful.
The ¿Eddie¿ in the title is Eddie Pettit, born to an unmarried teenage mother in 1887 while she was mucking out a stable ¿ a job that just barely keeps her out of the workhouse. All his life, Eddie had a special gift for working with horses. And now in 1933, Eddie dies in a freak accident at a printing plant. But Eddie¿s friends, the fruit sellers in Covent Garden, don¿t believe his death was an accident and come to Maisie Dobbs, daughter of their friend and former costermonger Frankie Dobbs, to investigate his death.Maisie takes on the job, only too glad to be of help to her father¿s pals, whom she¿s known since she was a little girl. And when her assistant, Billy Beale, winds up in the hospital after a beating sustained while asking questions about the case, she¿s pretty certain that her clients¿ suspicions about Eddie¿s death are on target. Elegy for Eddie is a pivotal book in this award-winning series, a turning point for its protagonist. Maisie is still becoming accustomed to newfound wealth ¿ which came to her when her mentor and friend Maurice died and left her most of his considerable estate. Maisie is always willing to use her money to help others, but in Elegy for Eddie, she¿s confronted with the accusation, from a very credible source, that she may be using gifts to control other people¿s lives. Maisie also realizes that she must decide what her relationship is to be with her lover, James, who wants a traditional marriage, meaning Maisie gives up her work. The Maisie Dobbs books are wonderful ¿ it¿s one series I collect in hardcover. I just want to own them. Elegy for Eddie is number nine, and it¿s just about time for me to go back to #1 and read some of the early ones again. It¿s that kind of series.
I like this series. However, I liked the earlier books better when Maisie was struggling than the well-to-do Maisie mixing with society. That she would be accepted into the homes of powerful society matrons as the mistress of Vicount Rowan in 1934 seemed a bit of stretch to me.The mystery revolves around the death of a childhood friend with limited mental ability. Four friends of Maisie's father hire her to find out exactly how Eddie died. In her investigation she discovers political coverups, the bullying of strong against weak, the attack on her associate Billie, and some truths about herself that have her re-evaluating her life.
Maisie Dobbs is faced with the moral ambiguities and terror as WWII looms on the horizon of her life. This was a really good story. They have all been good, but this one is particularly so!
This is the ninth book in the Maisie Dobbs mystery series and we find ourselves in the spring of 1933. Maisie has inherited her mentor Maurice's estate, making her a very wealthy woman and she continues to carry on her love affair with James Compton, the son of her former employer. However, Maisie is not comfortable either with her new found wealth or with a life with James among the upper crust of British society.Then a new case, involving the death of a young man from her old neighborhood of Lambeth falls into her lap. The young man has died in what seems like an industrial accident, but old costermonger friends of her father aren't so sure and hire her to get to the bottom of the causes of his death.In doing so, Maisie has to confront a murky world of power and politics as well as some not too pleasant truths about herself.As always these books are intelligently written and a pleasure to read. On a personal note, however, I would like the author to allow Maisie to be happy.