Maisie Dobbs takes on her most personal case yet, a twisting investigation into the brutal killing of a street peddler that will take her from the working-class neighborhoods of her childhood into London's highest circles of power. Set in London between the two world wars.
In this one, Maisie Dobbs is called upon to look into the unexpected death of a young man, Eddie Pettit, she's known since her childhood. Was is murder? An accident? and what about all the ensuing unusual deaths of people connected to Eddie? And why was her assistant Billy Beale assaulted while he was investigating this?
In addition to the current mystery, Maisie continues to struggle with her new status as a wealthy woman, while remembering her roots as a servant in the mansion she now inhabits. She is growing more and more anxious about her relationship with James Compton. Will they marry? Will James demand that she give up her private investigating business? Will she be able to maintain her sense of self?
Frost these two layers of the cake with an excellent discussion of the political atmosphere in England during the second half of the decade (1930s) as the world watched Adolf Hitler grab power and re-arm. Winspear has given us another great mystery, some well-researched historical facts woven in the fiction, and managed to continue the romance without resolving the ultimate question. There's definitely room for more of this delightful series and protagonist.
Maisie is approached by some childhood friends to look into the death of their mutual friend, Eddie. Eddie was a simple man with an innocence they all loved. However, in the last few weeks of his life, he was worried about something. His death appears to be an accident but it is doubtful. What had Eddie gotten himself involved in that led to his death?
As Maisie investigates, she also has to deal with the threat of another war, her relationship with James and its challenges, and facing her need to control the lives of her friends and employees.
This is a complex, somewhat sad, yet satisfying read. It is very well done, as usual. Heartily recommended for fans of the series.
(I received this book through Amazon's Vine Program.)
The Eddie of the title was an unusual man. Most people thought he was “slow,” but those who knew him well saw a lot more to him. He had remarkable talents, both obvious and hidden. He was best known for his mystical ability to quiet horses. That he was born in a stable doesn’t quite explain this skill, although that’s what the gossips say. When he dies in an "accident," the cockney costermongers of Maisie's childhood feel justice hasn't been done and they come to see her. Winspear’s own love for horses comes out beautifully in this novel. And her elegy for a man who today might be labeled “special needs” is sensitive and deeply moving. Winspear never slips into clichéd ideas. That her idea for Eddie arose from the story of a real man, or the little fragment she heard about him, makes this even more touching.
I was struck in the first part of the book by the absence of the shadow of World War II—or so I thought. A Lesson in Secrets focused largely on this looming threat. But here again in Elegy, Winspear shows the insidious influence of both the World Wars, the one behind these characters and the one they will soon face. She draws with a sure hand the web of disaster closing in on England and America, and the corrupting effect of war’s threat, even on men of good intentions. Here are “villains” whose crimes you may have to overlook and “heroes” whose secrets you may grow to despise. Winspear has tied together a page-turning mystery with a level of moral complexity rarely seen in the genre.
Elegy for Eddie is no exception. What starts off as a simple case - Maisie is asked by some coster monger friends of her father's to investigate the suspicious death of a young man who had a way with horses - quickly turns into something much, much more. In the course of her investigation, Maisie even comes in contact with Winston Churchill himself!
Winspear's knowledge of the era shows on each page, as the reader is surrounded by historical details and attitudes. And while we are searching for the truth behind Eddie's killing, we're also treated to some character development, as Maisie DObbs herself grows and changes a lot in this book. We've seen changing relationships before, but there's something about the change that takes place in this book that intrigues me. I'm certainly looking forward to future developments on this front (and I did that all without spoiling anything!).
One thing that I've been looking for in the books for a while now that I haven't seen - early on, there were hints of Maisie's "intuitive" abilities, hinting that there was something more there. In fact, in An Incomplete Revenge, there was a lot made of her gypsy background, and I always thought that the series was going in that direction, but recent books have made little mention of it. That's the only real loose end that I've seen in the books, which makes me thing it's either something that Winspear decided not to pursue or that it's coming in a future book. I'm happy either way.
I have recommended the Maisie Dobbs books to everyone I know who reads mysteries or enjoys books set in the 30s and 40s. The descriptions are spot-on regarding historical setting and attitudes, and the characters are fascinating and very deep. With this quality of writing, I don't look for this series to end any time soon, and for that I am truly thankful.
Reading previous entries in the series isn't necessary for understanding what's going on in Elegy for Eddie. But, this book made me curious to know more about Maisie and her path so I'm off to read the series starting at book one!
Publisher’s Summary: adapted from Audible.com
Early April 1933: To the costermongers of Covent Garden – sellers of fruit and vegetables on the streets of London – Eddie Pettit was a gentle soul with a near-magical gift for working with horses. When Eddie is killed in a violent accident, the grieving costers are deeply skeptical about the cause of his death. Who would want to kill Eddie – and why?
I loved reading about the costermongers – an occupation of times gone by. And, while Winspear writes eloquently of Eddie’s gentle soul, and of his gift with horses – she doesn’t shy away from the fact that Eddie is severely mentally challenged. I like that Winspear is clear about the respect paid him by the costers and by Maisie, hence Elegy to Eddie – respect was not always Eddie’s experience, as one might imagine in the early 1930s. Maisie is learning to live as a wealthy woman, and what that means in terms of setting boundaries around “helping” others. In terms of her personal life, I find myself growing frustrated with her: she commits to a relationship, and then as the relationship progresses, proceeds to find reasons why she can’t commit (read Andrew Deene and now James Compton).
On the historical front, Elegy to Eddie, like A Lesson in Secrets before it, continues to foreshadow the coming of WWII: illustrating for readers the British political maneuvering taking place as Hitler gradually rises to power.
Thoroughly enjoyed Elegy to Eddie, the ninth installment in the Maisie Dobbs series. I’ve forgotten to mention for some time that Orlagh Cassidy is perfect for this series, just perfect. Highly recommended, both novel and series!
Maisie was a young maid in Lord and Lady Compton's home (think Anna from Downton) who was caught by Lady Rowan in the library late at night reading. Lady Rowan realized Maisie's intelligence and potential and arranged for her to be schooled by Dr. Maurice Blanche, a well-renowned psychologist and private investigator.
Maurice became Maisie's mentor, and Maisie was able to rise above her station and eventually became a nurse serving in France during WWI. Maisie was severely wounded and returned home to recuperate, and eventually take over Maurice's private investigation business.
After Maurice died, he left his home and much of his fortune to Maisie. Overnight, she became a wealthy woman. She also fell in love with Lady Rowan's son and heir, James Compton. Maisie is a woman who owns her own business, has enough wealth to own a home and an apartment in London, and is able to financially help her friends and colleagues.
In the newest novel, Elegy For Eddie, Maisie is visited by men she knew as a child, fruit peddlers from Lambeth. They ask her to investigate the death of Eddie, a forty-six-year-old man with the mind of a child. Eddie had a job running errands for workers in a newspaper plant and was killed when a bolt of paper crushed him.
Maisie knew Eddie and the single mother who raised him. She took the case, and it brought forth many feelings to the surface for her. The class system in England was fairly rigid, and it was unusual for anyone, particularly a woman on her own, to move up. Maisie was living a life about which she felt increasingly uncomfortable.
When she stays at James' family estate, she doesn't like the staff waiting on her. Ringing a bell for the next course of dinner feels unnatural to her. While she loves James, she begins to feel that the life he leads is not one she wants.
Now that Maisie has money, she uses it to help her employees. She purchases a home in a good neighborhood and rents it to her loyal assistant Billy and his family after they lost a daughter to illness. She hired Sandra, who lost her husband, and let her move in with her. She also paid for Sandra to further her education.
When Billy is seriously injured investigating Eddie's death, Billy's wife blames Maisie for putting her husband in danger. Maisie feels guilty, arranges for Sandra to help care for Billy's children, and gets him the best medical care.
A doctor confronts Maisie about her 'helping' her employees. She asks Maisie to consider whether her help is "affecting their lives, making decisions on their behalf that they might not have made for themselves, or might come to at a different time." She suggest that Maisie may have been trying to get others conform to Maisie's view of the world.
Maisie's best friend Priscilla tells her that by coming to the rescue of everyone, she could be causing people to resent her, as Billy's wife does. She explains that people don't like being beholden to someone, and that Maisie is depriving her friends of the "opportunity for them to be proud of something they've achieved.''
This book in the series doesn't have much action, it is much more introspective. We see Maisie coming to a fork in the road of her life. She has to decide whether she wants to move forward with her relationship with James, and how to deal with her new station in life and her control issues.
Maisie is an independent woman living in a turbulent time. This story is set in 1933, and England, weary from the losses of so many men in WWI, is now facing the possibility of another war. Hitler is causing problems in Europe, and Eddie's death may be tied to a newspaper publisher who is using his power to drum up war propaganda to get the people of England ready for confrontation.
I love being immersed in Maisie's world. Winspear does meticulous research, which is available on her website.( If you want to know more about that time in history, click on the link.) Maisie is a strong woman, but she has her doubts about her abilities and where she is going in life. She feels so real and I think many women today can relate to her.
I always look forward to catching up with Maisie, and if you are a fan of Downton Abbey and are suffering from withdrawal, the Maisie Dobbs series are a wonderful way to immerse yourself in that time.
This novel captures the atmosphere in England amidst Hitler's rise to power in Germany. Maisie is ambivalent about the future. She sees signs of impending danger, yet she is hopeful that the threat can be averted without another war. Maisie is still adjusting to her newly-acquired wealth. She no longer fits into the world she grew up in, but she isn't comfortable among the wealthy class, either. Her social unease has begun to affect her relationship with James.
Maisie continues to intrigue me. She manages to resolve her cases at a crossroad in her life, leaving readers wondering what direction she might take next. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait for the publication of the next book in the series to find out.
I am a huge fan of this series and have read all of the books published to date thanks to Book Girl Jen's Mad for Maisie reading challenge last year. In this outing we see that WWII looms ever closer on the horizon and we get an inkling as to what it will mean to the beloved characters in this series. When a man from Maisie's youth dies under somewhat mysterious circumstances she is called on to investigate the death by her father's friends. As Maisie has known the man personally she feels a particular responsibility to discover the truth. The case soon becomes complicated and Maisie learns that there is a lot more at stake than the death of just one man.
Although I love the mystery aspect of each story I often find myself frustrated with Maisie's actions in her personal life. I was just getting over the shabby way she treated her former suitor Dr. Andrew, who even though she gave him the brush off, doesn't seem mind using him whenever she has a need of his medical expertise. Now she is reverting back to the same pattern with her new love James. I wanted to throw the book when she was contemplating encouraging him to move to Canada and take up farming without her. When Maisie's assistant is almost killed, she seems to take offense when James shows concern for her safety. The hinted at parting of James and Maisie at the end of the book did not leave me hopeful for their future.
I will keep reading the series because I love the world and characters Winspear has created. I just wish that there could be a novel where Maisie could find a little peace happiness in her love life but I see that it is not to be. With the onset of another war the future looks more bleak than ever for Winspear's characters. It will be interesting to see where Maisie's planned travels will take her in the next novel.
This book also delves significantly into Maisie's personal life. Maisie is feeling stifled in her relationship with James Compton, she cannot reconcile her roots and desires with those of her wealthy boyfriend. Like the other Maisie Dobbs books this one deals with the effects of war, though the changing times mean that the war in question is the approaching Second World War, rather than the First.
As the end of the day the wrap-up of the mystery is somewhat unsatisfying. There are questions that remain unanswered at the end, and certain things that are never really explained. Everything worked out a bit too cleanly for my taste. Maisie can apparently talk her way into anything. Still, Winspear writes enjoyable and readable mysteries. While this was not my favorite of the series, I will surely continue to read and appreciate them.
The mystery revolves around the death of a childhood friend with limited mental ability. Four friends of Maisie's father hire her to find out exactly how Eddie died. In her investigation she discovers political coverups, the bullying of strong against weak, the attack on her associate Billie, and some truths about herself that have her re-evaluating her life.
This series is a masterful look at England in the post-WWI years, and has given me a much better perspective on the war-weariness that made so many willing to turn a blind eye to the dangers of the rise of the Nazi party in Germany. Following as they do the struggles of women in this period, these books highlight the sad realities of a generation of women faced with a shortage of men to marry and forced to make their own way in a world not yet ready to accept that necessity.
Then a new case, involving the death of a young man from her old neighborhood of Lambeth falls into her lap. The young man has died in what seems like an industrial accident, but old costermonger friends of her father aren't so sure and hire her to get to the bottom of the causes of his death.
In doing so, Maisie has to confront a murky world of power and politics as well as some not too pleasant truths about herself.
As always these books are intelligently written and a pleasure to read. On a personal note, however, I would like the author to allow Maisie to be happy.
The story begins when some local market sellers seek out Maisie's help in a finding out what really happened in a suspicious death. This request sends the now wealthy Maisie back to her poor Lambeth roots to investigate the death of a "slow" but well-loved man named Eddie Pettit. As Maisie investigates more, she realizes that Eddie may have been in over his head involving matters of national security.
Although this is only the second Maisie Dobbs novel I have read, I once again had no problem in understanding the plot and characters. These are great mysteries due to the time era, the issue of class and the compelling character of Maisie. This particular book focuses quite a bit on Maisie and her discovery of some possible flaws and issues she must deal with within herself.
This is an excellent series and the ninth novel was well worth the read.
Set in 1933 London Elegy for Eddie, the ninth and latest Maisie Dobbs offering, has Maisie investigating the brutal killing of a street peddler from the working-class neighborhood of her childhood. It’s one of the best in a super series.
Read this: after you’ve read the rest of the series. Yes, each book in the series stands alone, but they’ll have greater impact if you’ve watched Maisie grow. If the period in Britain between the World Wars intrigues you, or you enjoy a strong but flawed female protagonist, you’ll particularly enjoy this series. 4 stars
A beloved community member, Eddie Pettit, is killed in a fluke factory accident, and suspicions point to foul play. Maisie vows to Eddie's mother to investigate and bring justice for her son even though the many of the answers are more complicated and have long range and deep reaching consequences than Maisie could have ever imagined. Along the way, Maisie also navigates her newfound status as a woman of wealth with that of her earned independence as well as her relationship with Viscount James Compton.
What I Liked
The Setting - England - old England to be exact with names of cities, towns, communities, landmarks, estates - I'm unfamiliar with many of these, but I was able to follow a general lay of the land through Winspear's detail.
The history - early history of Hitler, Churchill, political climate of Britain in between WWI and WWII along with ideas of how America might fit into the future of Britain as an ally.
The brief look at the horse and buggy culture at the onset of motor car popularity - I found Eddie's death to be a figurative comparison to the death of the horse as the main mode of transportation.
A British Manor Household - very similar to Downton Abbey in that there is a butler, footmen, housekeepers, gatekeepers, chauffer, etc. all with very specific job descriptions, designed to keep the Comptons comfortable in the manner to which their class is accustomed. Much fussy etiquette is observed at all times to Maisie's chagrin much of the time.
Maisie's relationship with the townspeople - somehow Maisie is able to move back and forth between social circles with ease as far as how others accept her. She is not always comfortable fulfilling her "duties" as a society lady but seems to be respected wherever she goes. While she's certainly not a perfect character and feels the need to question and analyze her ever move, she manages to carry on even the most sensitive and tense conversations without letting her emotions get the best of her.
The portrayal of Eddie as a challenged individual who, contrary to popular belief for much of history, was not just a "thow-away" person...Eddie had many gifts to offer those who took the time to find them. He lived and was loved by the people of his community and earned his own keep with his mother and teacher's help until a selfish individual took advantage of Eddie's willingness to please others...a lesson for today.
The End - no happy wrap up here...history is complicated and politics even more so...and don't forget relationships :p
Evelyn Butterworth - Bart's girlfriend - In the midst of tragedy, Evelyn puts on her "big girl britches," doesn't wallow in her sorrow, and keeps on moving. What a gal! :)
Priscilla Partridge - I was a little worried that she was too good to be true, but I'm going to assume that she's exactly the kind of friend that Maisie would want...someone who accepts her for who she is, doesn't try to pretend she's something she's not (even though she has money), and knows when to push and even more importantly, when to back away.
What I Didn't Like
Order - While I don't think Elegy for Eddie has to be read in order with the other Maisie Dobbs books (because I didn't have a problem following the plot of this 9th book of the series), I'm just easily distracted enough to want to know about the people and circumstances from Maisie's past...her mentor Maurice, her previous life as a chambermaid, then nurse and her first love who died from injuries sustained in the war, etc.
John Otterburn - a dangerous man disguised in wealth and his ability to reach many people and wield his power through his ideas via the newspapers he owns and his intolerance for those who question him. Can you say "Propaganda"?
Bart Soanes - in his mind, a newspaperman with a a duty to shine light on injustice...but at what price?
James Compton - please don't be mad - I just don't know...I'm not sure he knows who he is...he morphs in and out of character - the snobby Viscount expecting Maisie to fall in step to the young man who wants more in his life than following the path of his birth. I'm holding out my final decision on James until I find out more about him. I'm just not sure he's right for Maisie (since I'm the expert and all :p)
I'm going to assume that anyone who's followed Maisie thus far would want to continue her journey. Maisie's story is an easy one...no grimacing violence nor language with focus on a self-made woman during the early twentieth century weathering both highs and lows of life.
A group of working men from Maisie's childhood London neighborhood come to see her about the death of Eddie Pettit, a young mentally challenged gentle giant who had a magic way with every horse he ever met. Eddie was killed in an accident in a paper factory, but the men believe that his death was swept under the rug in such a manner that they feel something's not right. The men all know Maisie and trust her to do the right thing.
This case, with such strong ties to her lower class roots, comes at a time when Maisie is beginning to wonder if her relationship with a wealthy and titled man has any real future. Juggling both her personal and professional lives is tricky and exhausting, especially when the investigation sends one of her employees to the hospital. Maisie knows that something's not right about Eddie's death, and although the case may lead much higher than she'd originally thought, she's determined to find the truth and to bring his mother some measure of peace.
I've loved this series from the very beginning, and my affection for it grows with each new book. Maisie's personal life is every bit as interesting as the case she is trying to solve. She faces a very real dilemma, not only in dealing with her relationship with a wealthy man, but in how she deals with the inheritance she received. Her tendency to spend money on all those she cares for may not have the results she intends, and it's something with which she must come to terms.
Elegy for Eddie brings the working class areas of London to life-- all the people who have yet to truly recover from the First World War are now in the depths of the Depression. Life is precarious... and precious... and it warms my heart at how these people who have very little themselves insist on doing what's right for Eddie and for his grieving mother. Hitler and Fascism cast darkening shadows over everything, making me wonder what will happen to these characters I've grown to care for when yet another horrific war begins.
The Maisie Dobbs series is perfect for those who love historical mysteries, for those who love intriguing investigations, and for those who love characters that work themselves into your heart. All that and a bit of psychology, too, because as Maisie asks herself some very thought-provoking and important questions, it's impossible for readers not to ponder them and answer the same questions for themselves.
Elegy for Eddie stands alone quite well, but please treat yourself to all the books. The development of Maisie's character throughout the series is a literary feast you don't find often enough.