Sunday, March 25, 2012
Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear
Nothing illustrates Maisie's change in status more than the new case she takes on as an inquiry agent. Five men from Maisie's childhood, friends of her father, showed up to ask her to look into a death ruled a "regrettable accident." Maisie remembered Eddie Pettit, who was about ten years older than her, as a little slow, but a gentle, innocent man who seemed to have a magical gift with horses. Maisie's father once worked in Lambeth in the market with those costermongers, and they tried to help when her mother was ill. Now, it's Maisie's turn to try to help those men and Eddie's mother find answers to his death.
Eddie was killed at Bookhams Printers in what appeared to be an industrial accident. But, when Maisie visited the factory, she uncovered rumors that Eddie ran into a bully, a man who always hated him. And, it wasn't long before her probing caused a second tragic accident. She's determined to find answers, even as the case takes her into the homes of the class she now travels in as a wealthy woman and the girlfriend of Viscount James Compton. How much does the wealthy newspaperman who owns Bookhams know about Eddie's death? Maisie's questions involve newspapers, Winston Churchill, her friend Priscilla's husband, and even James himself.
Maisie Dobbs finds herself in a difficult stage in life, as well as in a difficult case. She's caught between her past, as a child of the working class, and her present lifestyle, as a wealthy property owner attending parties with the rich and influential. And, despite her love for James, she finds her life with him suffocating at times. It takes a couple shrewd friends to warn her that she might want to analyze herself and her life.
It's 1933. Germany and Hitler are on the rise. It's a situation already changing England, although war is in the distant future. Maisie's case, the story of an innocent man, is the story of innocent people swept up in forces beyond their control. And, Maisie herself, trying to control people and events in her own life, sees how that can lead to tragedy. Changes are coming for Maisie Dobbs, for England, for Europe. The investigation of Eddie Pettit's death forces Maisie to reevaluate her own life, and her treatment of the people in her life. Winspear asks ethical questions of her character, and her readers. Elegy for Eddie is a powerful story of a character and a world caught up in change. Winspear is clever in her juxtaposition of Maisie's life and need for control, and the situation in England. Who should have the power to decide how people's lives are going to change? It's a question that leaves Maisie Dobbs, and the reader, with no easy answers.
Jacqueline Winspear's website is www.jacquelinewinspear.com
Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear. HarperCollins. 2012. ISBN 9780062049575 (hardcover), 352p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I requested a copy of the book from the publisher.