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 reviewed The Most Powerful Idea in the World, a nonfiction book about the development of steam engines. Sim shared a short story she wrote based on her relationship with her British father. Tina reviewed Blue Monday, the first in a mystery series featuring a psychotherapist. Becky reviewed Victoria (a biography for young readers about Queen Victoria), Florence Nightingale (a similar biography by the same author), The Man in the Queue (first in the Inspector Alan Grant series), and a couple of BBC Radio dramas.
We had three new visitors last week. TJ of My Book Strings reviewed Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. Susie of Novel Visits came by to say hello.
Carolyn of Riedel Fascination stopped by to let us know about the Celtic Coasts Reading Challenge for books set in Ireland, Wales, and Scotland — our group reads quite a few of those!
Book: Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear
Publication date: 2012
Source: e-book borrowed from the library
Summary: Elegy for Eddie is the ninth book in the series by Jacqueline Winspear that features Maisie Dobbs as a private investigator who uses psychology and other unusual techniques to solve her cases. Friends of Maisie Dobbs’ father visit her office to tell her that a childhood friend, Eddie Pettit, has died. Was it a tragic industrial accident or something more nefarious? The men she knew from her old neighborhood want Maisie to find out. She remembers Eddie Pettit as sweet and slow, with an amazing talent for working with horses. What kind of trouble could such a man get into that would lead to his murder, if that’s what this is?
Thoughts: Many mysteries are satisfying because there is a battle between good and evil and evil loses in the end. That is so satisfying, in part, because life is often a lot more complicated. This book is not the only one in the Maisie Dobbs series to offer something different. As in life, it’s not always clear what is good and what is evil. Things aren’t so cut-and-dried, once you delve deeper into the story. Exploring that complexity has value, even if it does mean we lose out on some of the psychological reward of seeing evil squashed and good triumphant.
The reason that I keep reading about Maisie Dobbs is that I find something calm and restful about her narrative voice, even when she’s not feeling calm and restful at all. The way she thinks through things and gives time for her responses to develop helps me approach my life with less rush and impatience.
I liked Elegy for Eddie, in particular, because Maisie Dobbs revisits her roots among the costers around Covent Garden in the 1930s when some carts are still pulled by horses. One of the crime scenes is Lambeth Bridge, so we get to see the whole area of London from Covent Garden, along the Embankment, past Westminster, to Lambeth. I loved revisiting that area in my mind, since we stayed near Embankment Station when we were in London.
Appeal: I suggest reading the Maisie Dobbs books in order since there are long story arcs featuring her relationships with other characters in the books. Not everyone finds the Maisie Dobbs books their cup of tea, so I struggle with how to recommend this to people who will like them. They are leisurely-paced, relationship-oriented, and evocative of time and space.
Challenges: Since Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in Britain, I get to count this book for the British Books Challenge, even though she lives in California now.
Have you read this book? What did you think?