Are you familiar with the series of books featuring Maisie Dobbs- psychologist, investigator and "one of the great fictional heroines, equal parts haunted and haunting" (Parade)? The ninth installment, Elegy for Eddie, was recently published in March, and is currently number seventeen on The New York Times' Best Sellers list.
'The daughter of a struggling greengrocer, Maisie Dobbs was only thirteen when she was sent to work as a maid for wealthy London aristocrats. But being bright and thoughtful beyond her years, Maisie studies her way to Cambridge, then serves as a nurse on the Front during the Great War. Now, years after Armistice, Masie has opened her own detective agency...'
I had the pleasure of meeting the author, Ms. Jacqueline Winspear, at an author's luncheon some years ago. She was just as lovely in person as you'd imagine.
She gave a wonderful talk referencing her grandfather's experience in the Great War, "the war and its aftermath proved fertile ground for a mystery. Such great social upheaval allows for the strange and unusual to merge and a time of intese emotions can, to a writer of fiction, provide ample fodder for a compelling story, especially one concerning criminal acts and issues of guilt and innocence. After all, a generation is said to have lost its innocence in the Great War. The mystery genre provides a wonderful vehicle for exploring such a time". Ms. Winspear also spoke of her inspiration for the entire series. She was walking in London and suddenly imagined a complete picture of Maisie Dobbs stepping through a turnstile...
'Even if she han't been the last person to walk through the turnstile at Warren Street tube station, Jack Barker would have noticed the tall, slender woman in the navy blue, thigh-length jacket with a matching pleated skirt short enough to reveal a well-turned ankle. She had what his old mother would have called 'bearing'. A way of walking, with her shoulders back and head held high, as she pulled on her black gloves while managing to hold on to a somewhat battered black document case.
"Old money," muttered Jack to himself. "Stuck-up piece of nonsense."
Jack expected the woman to pass him by, so he stamped his feet in a vain attempt to banish the sharp needles of cold creeping up through his hobnailed boots. He fanned a half dozen copies of the Daily Express over one arm, anticipating a taxi-cab screeching to a halt and and reaching out with the requisite coins.
"Oh, stop-may I have an Express please, love?" appealed a voice as smooth as spooned treacle.
The newspaper vendor looked up slowly, straight into eyes the color of midnight in summer, an intense shade that seemed to him to be darker than blue. She held out her money.' ~Chapter 1, Maisie Dobbs
I've really enjoyed the entire series, they're a unique blend of history, psychology and mystery, providing a glimpse into a time when the world (especially England) was at a critical juncture. You really feel as though you know Maisie.
And on her behalf, would it be too much to ask, if she could have a little luck in love?