Review: Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear

5th November 2012

Via Goodreads

*I received this from the publisher Harper Perennial in exchange for an honest review.

From the back cover:

Early April 1933. To the costermongers of Covent Garden – sellers of fruits and vegetables on the London streets – Eddie Pettit was a gentle soul with a near-magical gift for working with horses. So who would want to kill him…and why?

Maisie remembers Eddie from life with her own costermonger father. The thought that someone may have purposefully harmed Eddie disturbs her deeply, and she takes on the case, heading into the factory of a press mogul, determined to find the truth while bridging the gap between the monied and the struggling working class.

As Maisie has recently come into money, this case hits at a particularly awkward time. As her dearest friend Priscilla points out, Maisie seems to feel guilty about the money, spending quite a lot on others in an effort to smooth over her discomfort but inadvertently causing discomfort for others. Her relationship with James Compton is also complicated by the money. Once James would pop over to her flat, but now that he occupies the family home in London, surrounded by servants, Maisie feels the responsibility and expectations that come along with a partnership with a titled man.

Eddie’s case both takes her away from those expectations and highlights them. Her investigation gives her some much-needed time away from James, but as Maisie investigates and discovers the death of another man connected with Eddie, it is apparent that Eddie was involved in something he didn’t understand, something Maisie doesn’t fully understand. And in her own adjustment to life after the war, life without the man she loved, and life without her mentor, she has been blinded to the potential for another war. The more she learns, the more she realizes she will have to reconsider her idea of justice.

In many ways, Elegy for Eddie is a transition, and for that reason, many are critical of this ninth book in the series. In fact, I was hesitant to read it, as my inclination is to want to see Maisie happy with James and settling into her new life. But that isn’t altogether realistic. One of the reasons I love Maisie is that she’s a thinker. Does she overthink things? Often. But her intentions are good, and she genuinely desires to figure out what she wants from life. Much of what has happened in her life has been dictated by need or by others’ good intentions, and watching her awareness of this and her desire to live a sincere, meaningful life kept me up much of the night after I finished reading. Regardless of her mistakes, she lives and works with intention. Her pain on discovering the nearness of war was heartbreaking and showed her vulnerability, and I instantly saw how it changed her.

Fans of mystery may not particularly like this novel, as there isn’t much of one. Instead, this is Winspear’s opportunity to highlight Maisie’s growth – however painful and uncomfortable as it is – and I am eager to see how she, James, and Priscilla move forward in the next book.

Check out other reviews, or add this to your shelf on Goodreads.

P.S. Check out my review of The Woman Who Died A Lot to see if you won the giveaway!

  • I read this earlier in the year — my first Maisie Dobbs — and I liked it but really want to get to the start of the series and begin — and reread this one. Although this was my intro to the series, I’m rather glad to hear Winspear doesn’t keep the same static format/style/tone to the series — that’s my complaint abt series — even if it is hard for long-time fans to get into. Glad it resonated with you, though — makes me excited to get to it again!

  • Charlie

    Surprised to hear it’s the ninth in the series, that’s pretty cool. I like mysteries, but the idea of a book that has that but focuses on development is attractive. Though I’m saying that as someone who hasn’t read the series, so no experience otherwise.