Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear – Book Review

Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
Published by Picador, an imprint of Macmillan
Book 3 in the Maisie Dobbs series.

My reviews of the first two books in the series: Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather

One of the defining characteristics of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs is the setting between World War I and World War II. In the first two books particularly, the Great War and its ramifications are hugely important to the story, crucial to the plot, even. Now, in Pardonable Lies, Maisie is forced to confront her time in France, in the war while trying to find out whether a lost aviator truly died in the war and trying to track down the true fate of the brother of her best friend, Priscilla.

More than ever in the past two books, Maisie is intensely vulnerable in Pardonable Lies. She has to face her demons head on, and has a crisis of confidence in some of the most foundational aspects of her life. At the same time, she is being challenged by Priscilla to become more her own person, defined not entirely by her work.

This is a good continuation to the series. I liked that Winspear changed the scenery by taking Maisie to France, it helped keep the series fresh. After three books, I still recommend the series.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound | Amazon*

Source: Personal copy.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear – Book Review

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
Published by Penguin Books
Book 1 in the series

What do you get when you take one very bright housemaid in early 20th century England, educate her within an inch of her life, and give her some Sherlock Holmes-style training in solving crimes? Why Maisie Dobbs, of course!

Respectful and polite, Maisie is very much a product of her time. Winspear balances very well the line of having an independent heroine who is not overly modern. We begin the book with Maisie setting up shop with her own agency, but the majority of action in this first book in the series is actually comprised of backstory, ranging from the time she first began to work for Lady Rowan Compton, to her time at university, finally to her time as a nurse during World War I.

I must say, there was a bit too much backstory for me. I would have preferred to either start the series when Maisie was just 13 or 14 and gaining employment, or to have the backstory spread out over more books. Particularly because the backstory in which I was most interested – that of her apprenticeship with her mentor Maurice Blanche – was not covered in this book.

Still, Maisie was an engaging and charming character. I have every intention of continuing the series, I just hope that the next books have more action in Maisie’s present.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon.*

Source: library.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

The Gendarme by Mark Mustian – Book Review

The Gendarme by Mark Mustian
Published by Amy Einhorn Books, an imprint of Penguin

The first thing that caught my attention about “The Gendarme” was the arresting cover. I found it very reminiscent of the National Geographic cover of the Afghan girl, if a slightly less intense gaze. When I read the jacket copy and saw that it was about Turkey and the Armenians in WWI, I was totally sold.

And, although, it was not at all what I expected, “The Gendarme” did not disappoint.

Emmet Cohn was born Ahmet Khan in Turkey at the end of the 19th century. Unfortunately, he does not remember much of anything before he woke up in a British hospital during World War I with severe head trauma. He made it to the United States due to the determination of his American nurse, whom he married. After a long life in which he considered himself American first and foremost, Emmet, 92 and recently diagnosed with a brain tumor, has become dreaming again of Turkey. Specifically, he is dreaming of being a gendarme – which is odd, because he is positive he was a Turkish solider, not a gendarme – who is taking a group of Armenians to Syria and is beguiled by an Armenian girl with two different colored eyes, Araxie.

I really enjoyed “The Gendarme,” the way it worked through memory, sins of the past, aging, sickness, duty, and repentance. The two storylines were worked together masterfully, particularly considering there was not always a visual cue of transition. One thing bled into another with ease and occasionally when the transition was overly quick, it was wonderfully evocative of exactly what Emmet must have been going through with his tumor and increasingly frequent lapses between waking and dreams. I adored the uncertainty – shared by Emmett himself – of whether or not we could trust him as a narrator, or whether him tumor and previous head trauma left him unreliable. There were times I felt that I shouldn’t buy the blossoming relationship between Emmett and Araxie, with all of the hardships between them, but Mustian wrote them so compellingly that I had a difficult time not believing their relationship, unlikely as it may have seemed.

In “The Gendarme,” Mustian blends history and the human spirit beautifully. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon.*

This review was done with a book received from BEA.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.