Monday, February 14, 2011

Review: Pardonable Lies

Summary: A new Maisie Dobbs novel from award-winning author Jacqueline Winspear
In the third novel of this unique and masterly crime series, a deathbed plea from his wife leads Sir Cecil Lawton, KC, to seek the aid of Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator. As Maisie soon learns, Agnes Lawton never accepted that her aviator son was killed in the Great War, a torment that led her not only to the edge of madness but also to the doors of those who practice the dark arts and commune with the spirit world. Determined to prove Ralph Lawton either dead or alive, Maisie is plunged into a case that tests her spiritual strength, as well as her regard for her mentor, Maurice Blanche. The mission will bring her to France and reunite her with her old friend Priscilla Evernden, who lost three brothers in the war, one of whom has an intriguing connection to the case.

Set against a finely drawn portrait of life between the World Wars,
Pardonable Lies is "a thrilling mystery that will enthrall fans of Jacqueline Winspear's heroine and likely win her new ones" (Detroit Free Press). -- Picador

I'm still Mad for Maisie! And maybe even more so after reading the third book in the series PARDONABLE LIES by Jacqueline Winspear. If I had to chose, I'd probably say that this novel was my favorite in the series so far. This book encompassed everything that I've loved about the first two books, but it just seemed to be a little bit better.

PARDONABLE LIES had everything I've come to expect from a Maisie Dobbs novel. The mystery aspects were terrific and kept me guessing long after Maisie had everything figured out. In addition, I just love how Ms. Winspear establishes the setting. The details of post-war London are so interesting as are the descriptions of the effects that the war had on its victims. I also just adore how well Ms. Winspear describes the fashions of the time from the hair styles to the clothing to the shoes. It really is a special treat to those of us who enjoy learning more about the time.

Despite all of the great things about this novel, my favorite part of PARDONABLE LIES is still Maisie. I just love her! Just when I think I am beginning to understand Maisie and what makes her tick, Ms. Winspear throw me for a loop. In this novel, she definitely added even more complexity to Maisie's character by making her have a breakdown. It's difficult enough for Maisie to still be experiencing the after-effects of working as a nurse in the war; however, she is also facing some other serious issues that really have her all out of sorts. My heart really went out to her when she realized that her mentor Maurice wasn't exactly who she thought he was.

My only small regret with this novel is that there weren't many scenes with Billy or Maisie's father -- two characters whom I adore! I can't say I'm surprised because they were both featured in book two, BIRDS OF A FEATHER; however, I did miss them. I'm assuming since I have five more books to read that there will be plenty of opportunity to see more of them. And I'm also hoping that there will be some more story lines concerning Maisie's love life and potential suitors.

PARDONABLE LIES would make a very interesting book club pick. I have to wonder, though, if one of the reasons that I appreciated it so much was because I had already read the other books in the series. I'm not saying that PARDONABLE LIES won't work as a stand-alone novel -- because it will. I just think seeing how Maisie's character has evolved is such an integral part of this story. There is a reading guide available which is just fantastic. In fact when I read the questions again before writing this review, I was reminded of just how many serious topics this book explored. Some of the topics you  might want to discuss include guilt, absent mothers, adolescence, homosexuality, truth/honesty, deception, class differences, and the effects of war.

As you probably already know, I am most definitely Mad for Maisie and I highly recommend the entire Maisie Dobbs series. Why not join in the fun? It's still not too late to join in all the fun at Book Club Girl's Mad for Maisie readalong!

Thanks to Book Club Girl and the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I think I have to start this series - you make it sound so good!

bermudaonion said...

Those books sound so good and I love that there's lots to discuss in them.

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

Yay for Maisie!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

this series looks interesting i need to check it out!

Anonymous said...

Great review Julie and I agree that any of the books, on their own, would make for a great book group discussion (hmmm, perhaps I should suggest the next one on Wednesday night when my group meets). And I missed Billy and her father too! But that's what's keeping me coming back for more as well, so she definitely knows what she's doing. Thanks for being part of the read-along and for reminding people they can still join us!

Anonymous said...

I think this may be my favorite as well. I think it was such a turning point for Maisie. I did miss Billy and Frankie but was so happy to see Pris back.
Here's my review: