Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs mysteries often deal with the repercussions of The Great War, World War I, on the people of England. But, according to the author's note in The Care and Management of Lies, the seeds for this novel were planted long before she became an author. Here is a powerful story of The Great War, the story of four innocent people from Kent caught up in a nightmare that was unexpected. And, Winspear said this novel began when she found a dogeared copy of The Woman's Book, a book about household management covering topics including cooking, children, business, and dress. Published in 1911, on the eve of the war, Winspear could only imagine the life of the woman that owned it. So, she gave that woman her great-grandmother's name, Kezia, and set out to tell her story.
In June 1914, when Kezia Marchant prepared to marry her best friend's brother, Tom Brissenden, she never dreamt of what was coming. "The country was in the early weeks of a summer that would become memorable for its warmth, and despite worries farther afield, there was a sense of being cocooned in Englishness." But, no one really knew what to expect in the near future. Not, Thea Brissenden, who was passionately supporting women's suffrage, nor Tom, who had taken over the family farm, nor Edmund Hawkes, whose family owned much of the land neighboring the Brissenden farm. All four, in their late twenties, if they even thought of war in June, thought it would be over quickly. They were caught up in their own lives, passions and dreams.
Kezia was a little hurt when Thea gave her a copy of The Woman's Book, insinuating that Kezia was leaving behind her life as an educated woman, a teacher, to become a farm wife. But, Kezia would not be the only one leaving behind the life she knew. In fact, she became the one to keep the farm going, the dreams of home burning, as the other three left for war. And, all four managed to lie about their situations, trying to keep hope alive.
With the anniversary of World War I in August, there will be many books published about the war. But, Jacqueline Winspear has always grasped the brutality of war, and the effect on the people at home in England. Her Maisie Dobbs books never romanticized the aftereffects of war. In The Care and Management of Lies, her characters come to life as they try to put a positive spin on life in order to appear brave. But, it's those very stories that show how tragic and terrible the war was, both on the battlefield and at home. Kezia Brizzenden represents so many women who courageously took on roles they were unprepared for. If you're looking for a novel that tells the truth, the emotional truth of war, reach for The Care and Management of Lies.
Jacqueline Winspear's website is www.jacquelinewinspear.com, and she can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jacquelinewinspear.
The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear. HarperCollins. 2014. ISBN 9780062220509 (hardcover), 336p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book in order to participate in a blog tour.