Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Review: Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

Title: Pardonable Lies: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Enjoyment Rating: 7/10
Source: Audible for iPhone
Referral: Book 3 in the series I've been reading my way through
Books I've Read This Year: 114

Oh dang, I've listened to so many of the Maisie Dobbs books in the last month that they're all starting to run together for me. I think that in this book, Maisie returns to France for the first time since she was a nurse in a casualty clearing station during WWI. She's on a case to prove that a soldier who went missing during the war is actually dead, and that case spawns other cases (Winspear always seems to include cases that are almost too similar to be believed, and she writes off the situation saying that there's no such thing as coincidence, just serendipity). And Maisie's almost spooky sense of what people are feeling, which I think Winspear would call intuition, sometimes feels a little overdone to me. Also, I know that my graduate professors would sigh and roll their eyes over all of Maisie's sighing and gasping, and the incredible number of details Winspear includes in the book (like a careful accounting of what Maisie wears nearly every day). But I think that if you can get away with an overabundance of detail in any genre, period mysteries are probably where it works best. Winspear really makes her audience feel as if they're in 1930, and the details are only annoying when I think about what other people would say about the book.

Since Maisie had such shocking and tragic experiences during the war, I guess it's not surprising that she has a nervous breakdown of sorts when she returns to France. She certainly seems more on edge in this book than in previous books, and this shows itself in her relationship with her father, with her mentor Maurice Blanche, and with her boyfriend, Andrew Deane. I recognize that Maisie is too damaged in this book to be in a romantic relationship, and that she's almost socially retarded as a result, and that Winspear is creating her as a soft, well-spoken kind of feminist icon (she doesn't need a man, does she), so I sort of hate myself a little bit for wanting her to get healthy so she can find some love in her life. I don't want her to be lonely. So, despite her sighing and her adjectives, you can probably see that Maisie Dobbs has got me hooked. I've been walking around with my iPod in my ears for months, and she keeps me good company on my drives to Provo, so I guess I'll keep her around for a little while longer.

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