Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I shared some photos from Bath in honor of a trip I made to a Missouri spa town. Jean read a Victorian-era collection of fantasy-horror stories for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril. Becky reviewed Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. Gaele reviewed Christmas at the Little Cottage on the Hill by Emma Davies.
Book: In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs #13)
Publication date: 2017
Source: Ebook from library
Summary: The Maisie Dobbs series features a female private investigator set, mostly, in London in the first half of the 20th century. The earlier novels dealt with the aftermath of the Great War, where Maisie served as a nurse and many of her friends, colleagues, suspects, and victims served in some capacity. Every book moves us forward in time. There have been rumblings of the coming war, World War II, in the last several books. In this book, we’re there.
In This Grave Hour is set during the Phoney War. The UK has declared war on Germany. Preparations have been visible long before then, including barrage balloons floating above London. And, then, nothing really happens for several months.
More than one character in this book mentions the irony of murder in a time like this. Maisie is investigating an apparent serial killer. It’s hard to understand why anyone bothers with such destructive energy at the moment when the world is poised on the brink of the same disaster that it fell into just twenty years earlier.
Thoughts: Reading books set in the UK has really helped me understand how close World War I and World War II were to each other. Books set in World War II have characters who remember what they did in World War I — and often build on that experience to shape their actions for the upcoming war.
In This Grave Hour focuses on the Belgium refugee community. I’ve been listening to Home Front, a BBC dramatic series about World War I. Each episode is set 100 years ago, to the day, of when it’s aired. I remember a couple of years ago when all of the Belgian refugees were arriving in Folkestone. Most, of course, went home after the war, but some remained and solidifying the connection between the UK and Belgium was one of the important behind-the-scenes developments of the Phoney War.
Appeal: As I read In This Grave Hour, I thought about whether this would appeal to new readers to the series. For people who prefer World War II settings, could they start with the thirteenth novel in this series and be satisfied? I think it would work. This is very much a reboot book of the series. It’s been many months since the end of the last book and Maisie is starting anew in London after a couple of books that were set abroad. What I read as reminders of previous books would serve as backstory for someone new to the series. Of course, you would completely ruin the long-term story arc of the previous twelve books if you started here and, then, decided to go back to the beginning later. But, you wouldn’t ruin any of the mysteries of the previous books, so it would probably still be an enjoyable journey.
Book #14, To Die But Once, is available now. Book #15 is expected to publish in March, 2019.