Tag Archives: World War II

Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear

Word Lily review

Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear, Maisie Dobbs book 9 (Harper, March 27, 2012), 352 pages

Summary
It’s the spring of 1933, and the costermongers Maisie grew up with come to her for help. They’re convinced that a guy from their neighborhood was murdered, that his death was not an accident. Eddie was a gentle soul, more boy than man. Most of the neighborhood looked out for him with kindness. And when a horse needed calmed? He was the one to call.

Thoughts
Note: This review may contain spoilers of previous books in the series.

In Elegy for Eddie Maisie continues to walk somewhat blindly through life, confident when it comes to her cases but not so clear in her personal life and relationships. Her life has changed drastically, and while she thinks she has come to terms with that, she’s still working it out.

More than a note of sadness pervades this book, as instead of recovering from World War I the global perspective shifts to preparing for World War II.

The state of her relationship with James in this book was frustrating to me, most of the way through (if not all the way). I kept thinking, *if they would just sit down and talk to each other, they’re more on the same page than either of them thinks they are.* I know I sometimes live with slights, imagined or otherwise, rather than addressing them immediately, but so many things could be solved by just a little communication!

I did like how this case took her back to the part of London where she grew up. This dovetailed nicely (as I’ve come to expect from Winspear) with the conflict Maisie’s feeling presently about her place in society.

At this point in the series, my affection for any particular title is greatly influenced by the state of Maisie’s relationship with her beau. And I was pretty unsettled, disgruntled, annoyed by how this was handled in this book. It reminds me of how I felt about Bones last year. It felt like, to drag the series out, they had Brennan reverting to old behavior, like she’d forgotten everything she’d learned, all the ways she’d grown over the past several years. Maisie seemed to be acting like Brennan — not as the person we’ve come to know her to be, but as the person she grew beyond already. That comparison might be a little unfair, but it’s how I felt while reading.

Maisie Dobbs books

1. Maisie Dobbs [my review]
2. Birds of a Feather [my review]
3. Pardonable Lies [my review]
4. Messenger of Truth [my review]
5. An Incomplete Revenge [my review]
6. Among the Mad [my review]
7. The Mapping of Love and Death [my review]
8. A Lesson in Secrets
9. Elegy for Eddie

Rating: 3.75 stars

About the author
Jacqueline Winspear (Facebook) quit her day job for her writing when she saw the tour schedule for Birds of a Feather. She lives in California, after leaving England in 1990. She finally has a blog.

Other reviews
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I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

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Certain Women by Madeleine L’Engle

Word Lily review

Certain Women: A Novel by Madeleine L’Engle (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1992), 351 pages

Summary
Told mainly from the perspective of up-and-coming stage actress Emma Wheaton, Certain Women is primarily a family drama. (And what a complicated family it is!) World War II bisects the narrative. Actor David Wheaton, Emma’s father, is dying, and his mind is filled with what ifs, focusing around his ex-wives and children, but viewed through the lens of something else he left undone, a play about the David of the Old Testament.

Thoughts
I really loved L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time — that whole series really — when I read them in my preteen years, but in the last couple years I’ve heard a few naysayers, so I was eager to experience L’Engle again and see if I still appreciated her writing. I wasn’t disappointed.

The story feels very modern, to the extent that I sometimes forgot it’s set in an earlier time.

I loved the interplay between the Baptist and Episcopal grandparents and ideas. She portrayed the back-and-forth (but ultimately unified) positions well.

The writing is splendid.

One complaint: I grew tired of what felt like harping on the connections and/or differences between the two stories, though. On the one hand, it makes sense, since Dave Wheaton is so obsessed with the biblical David, but the comparisons still felt a bit forced on me. Since the story’s told from Emma’s perspective, it might have been nicer to just let it flow.

Now, getting back to the writing (examples):

‘I listen to my characters better than I listen to anybody else. That’s not good.’ They had reached their building and he let go of Emma’s hand to reach for his key.

‘No, it’s not good, but I think maybe it’s true of all artists. When I’m working on a role I listen to my character. And I listen better than I listen to myself. Or to you.’

~page 260, Certain Women

“Maybe we have to sin, to know ourselves human, faulty, and flawed, before there is any possibility of greatness.”

~page 326, Certain Women

“I don’t have answers to the questions, at least not yet, but I have some good questions.”

~page 333, Certain Women

Rating: 4.5 stars

[I read this for the Faith ‘n’ Fiction Round Table; I posted Saturday about a theme I discovered in its pages, Serve the Gift.]

About the author
Madeleine L’Engle is the author of many acclaimed and popular works for adults and children, including the Newbery-winning A Wrinkle in Time and her autobiography, The Crosswicks Journal.

Other reviews
The 3 R’s Blog
Semicolon
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The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (1993; translated by Lucia Graves; Little, Brown; May 4, 2010), 224 pages

Summary
Max’s family leaves the city for the quieter, safer life of a small coastal town in 1943. But Max notices strange things about the town, and the Carvers’ new house, right off.

Thoughts
I’m so glad to see more of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s work being translated into English! After loving The Shadow of the Wind and even not loving The Angel’s Game I’ve been longing for more from this author to read.

I would classify The Prince of Mist as more horror than the others I’ve read by him. Still, it felt more like I was reading a book that was scary than that I was being scared by the book. Does that make sense? I’m guessing it’s because it’s a YA title.

The writing in this book doesn’t seem as vibrant to me as in the other two books I’ve read of his. I’m not sure if that’s because this was his first book, or if, perhaps, it’s because it’s for a younger audience.

I thought the way the author gets the adults out of the way for most of the action was great. The main characters are able to have a well-adjusted family but the danger-fraught story line isn’t hindered by their presence.

As much as I was happy to read this book, it’s not my favorite from him; that position is still firmly held by The Shadow of the Wind. That’s due in part to the story (this one isn’t book-centric, and it’s also a bit on the scary side for my taste, which is funny to say because it really feels like a YA book in this respect) and in part to the writing (which wasn’t bad in this case, but really shines in the other titles of his I’ve read). I’ll still jump at the next Ruiz Zafón book I can get in English, though.

The book’s trailer:
[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2dX56mc8Rg]

About the author
Carlos Ruiz Zafón doesn’t write fast enough for my taste; he’s the author of 6 books.

Other reviews
Alison’s Book Marks
The Introverted Reader
Fantasy Book Critic
A Dribble of Ink

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I received this book from the publisher.