The White Lady: A Novel

by Jacqueline Winspear

Hardcover, 2023

Call number





Harper (2023), 336 pages


Fiction. Mystery. Historical Fiction. HTML: The White Lady introduces yet another extraordinary heroine from Jacqueline Winspear, creator of the best-selling Maisie Dobbs series. This heart-stopping novel, set in Post WWII Britain in 1947, follows the coming of age and maturity of former wartime operative Elinor White�??veteran of two wars, trained killer, protective of her anonymity�??when she is drawn back into the world of menace she has been desperate to leave behind. A reluctant ex-spy with demons of her own, Elinor finds herself facing down one of the most dangerous organized crime gangs in London, ultimately exposing corruption from Scotland Yard to the highest levels of government. The private, quiet "Miss White" as Elinor is known, lives in a village in rural Kent, England, and to her fellow villagers seems something of an enigma. Well she might, as Elinor occupies a "grace and favor" property, a rare privilege offered to faithful servants of the Crown for services to the nation. But the residents of Shacklehurst have no way of knowing how dangerous Elinor's war work had been, or that their mysterious neighbor is haunted by her past. It will take Susie, the child of a young farmworker, Jim Mackie and his wife, Rose, to break through Miss White's icy demeanor�??but Jim has something in common with Elinor. He, too, is desperate to escape his past. When the powerful Mackie crime family demands a return of their prodigal son for an important job, Elinor assumes the task of protecting her neighbors, especially the bright-eyed Susie. Yet in her quest to uncover the truth behind the family's pursuit of Jim, Elinor unwittingly sets out on a treacherous path�??yet it is one that leads to her f… (more)

Media reviews

The White Lady, although we care about Elinor, her friendships and romances are mostly absent, thus she is a less well-rounded character compared to Maisie. To compensate for the lack of relationships, Winspear has plunged Elinor into two perilous wars, yet the author could have mined the action
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for more dramatic richness and extended these scenes. The novel has mysterious elements and some suspense, but it doesn’t fall squarely into either genre. Rather, it is a portrait of a redoubtable woman who unexpectedly is drawn into solving mysteries that have surfaced in the present but also have roots in her earlier life....he White Lady is a perfect fit for lovers of historical mysteries featuring intrepid, resourceful women who emerge as equal to their male colleagues and sometimes are more courageous. As a neighbor comments about Elinor, “She’s handy with a gun.” And she’s very clever. This is an excellent outing for Winspear, and if this novel is enjoyed, the first in her series, Maisie Dobbs, is highly recommended.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member cathyskye
Having been a fan of Jacqueline Winspear's long-running Maisie Dobbs series, I looked forward to seeing how her new heroine, Elinor White, would measure up. I'm happy to say that, in The White Lady, Elinor measures up quite nicely although I didn't grow to care for her as I did Maisie.

Readers see
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Elinor both in 1947 and as a teenager in Belgium during World War I. Her backstory illuminates Elinor's character and makes us wonder just how many other women were forced to do the same things Elinor did in order to survive. One of the most poignant scenes in The White Lady occurs when the young Elinor is attending class once her family has escaped to England. The teacher tells the girls that almost all the young men they could have been expected to marry have been slaughtered in the trenches of World War I, and that means that these girls will have to do well in school and learn how to take care of themselves; there will be no husbands to provide for them, no children to take care of them in their old age.

Elinor carries a lot of guilt for the things she had to do during both wars, and she believes that saving the Mackies from being dragged back into the criminal ways of their family is her chance for redemption. How she goes about saving them uncovers corruption in surprising places.

The White Lady is a strong story with much to say about survival, guilt, and redemption, and Elinor White is a character I wanted to embrace wholeheartedly. However, I always felt as though she never opened the door of her cottage to me, and it was that lack of emotional resonance that spoiled my reading a bit. Your mileage could definitely vary.

(Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Net Galley)
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LibraryThing member shazjhb
Fabulous book. Loved the interplay between wars and then peace. She writes good books with lovely characters.
LibraryThing member Andrew-theQM
I’ve long been a fan of the Maisie Dobbs books by Jacqueline Winspear so was really pleased to get the chance to read this new standalone by Jacqueline Winspear.

This is set just after the Second World War and we are introduced to Elinor White who lives a solitary life who becomes involved in
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trying to protect a young family who are threatened by the husband’s hoodlum family.

As the story develops we learn more about Elinor’s past and her involvement in both world wars even though she was only a child during the first one, and we also find out about a trauma that is affecting her, even in 1947.

I felt this book took a long time to get going and for me to feel fully involved in it but once it did I really enjoyed this story about an impressive woman and her actions during both the wars. I actually enjoyed the sections about her past more than the 1947 strand. There were certainly some great characters we met along the way as well as some not so great characters.

Overall I really enjoyed the story and am happy to recommend the book, although I did feel the end to the initial story from 1947 felt a bit too easy, but it did reveal more about Elinor’s life. Whilst good it didn’t feel it was in the same league as the excellent Maisie Dobbs books. I also felt it was left open to produce a sequel to the book or even possibly a series and I would be happy to read more.

Thanks to Net Galley, the publisher an author for a review copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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LibraryThing member jamespurcell
Very good stand alone novel about undercover work for women in England during and after both World Wars
LibraryThing member tangledthread
Elinor White lives in a remote cottage in England provided to her by the government for her service in WWII. She lives a solitary existence, but her reserve is broken by a young girl whose parents work for a neighboring farmer.

Her back story is that she was recruited into the Belgian Resistance
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during WWI as a 15 year old girl. She was evacuated to London after a narrow escape, along with her mother and sister. After completing her schooling and starting a career in Paris, she returned to London as Hitler was preparing to evade. While teaching at an all girls school, she was once again recruited for resistance activities in WWII Belgium.

The narrative moves back and forth between her resistance activities and her current postwar situation. The narrative is much like the Maisie Dobbs stories in style, but is darker.
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LibraryThing member vancouverdeb
Elinor White is 13, living in Belgium, when she and her older sister are recruited to be operatives for the Belgian resistance. Elinor and her sister carry out several missions before their luck runs out and Elinor is forced to make a split second decision which will trouble her for the rest of her
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life .Elinor's skills and courage are once again needed during WW11. Though she is courageous and resourceful, the tragic events of WW11 leave her haunted.

Post WW11, Elinor lives in small cottage in the Kent countryside. She lives a fairly content, but quiet life, ever vigilant and somewhat of a recluse. When a young family moves into a small cottage close by, Elinor is drawn into the Mackie family as she witnesses violence against them. Jim Mackie, his wife and their young daughter have escaped London to be free of Jim's criminal family

Told in three timelines , this makes for a fascinating read, and Elinor discovers that people are not always who they seem , and even trusted colleagues keep secrets.

I am a big fan the Maisie Dobb's series , and I really enjoyed this new stand along novel. I'm eager to read whatever Jacquline Winspear writes next

4 stars
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LibraryThing member fromthecomfychair
I enjoyed the story of Elinor White's espionage work through two world wars. And I have read all of Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series. But this novel had a very flat affect. We don't really know Elinor White as a person. I think trying to cover the events of two wars, and their aftermath left Winspear
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little space for character development, so while the story was interesting, it had little emotional resonance.
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LibraryThing member Lisa2013
I love the Maisie Dobbs books so much but I felt reluctant to read this book because I was afraid I wouldn’t like this new character/book.

I did like it, quite a bit. I hope that the author sticks to her plan to make this a standalone book though. I don’t want another series. I feel as though
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the White Lady story has now been told. Even though the last two Maisie books wonderfully wrapped up all the reader could want about Maisie and all the characters, I would read any future books if the author decides to continue writing books in that series.

Most of the chapters in this book were really long and that made it harder for me to pick up the book to read the next one. Almost every chapter required a significant time commitment.

What I liked about this book: The characters and settings are wonderful. The research seems good. It feels like an epic going through two wars with a fair amount of aging of the main character but it never dragged for me. The storytelling and writing are excellent. I don’t generally like mob stories but this was a different sort of mob store and I thoroughly enjoyed Elsie and also liked Jim & his family and even Jim’s father in a way.

What I didn’t like about this book: There were too many toward the end of the book reveals. Just a bit too much happened to the main character. It wasn’t so much that things were unbelievable (though they are improbable) but it was an exhausting reading experience for me and so much of what goes on seemed unnecessary. (I won’t give details, not even in spoiler tags, but it was just too much and I’m thinking the story might have been better without at least a quarter of it.

3-1/2 stars
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LibraryThing member SignoraEdie
Winspire writes another engaging story
LibraryThing member bfister
A hyper-vigilant recluse living in rural England in post-War England gradually gets to know the couple with a small child living nearby and can't help but become protective when the man's criminal family members threaten them to induce him to participate in a job he has refused. It's clear she's
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highly competent and quite capable of violence if necessary - and as the conflict plays out, we learn about her past. As a child in Belgium she aided the British during World War I and, after moving to England and studying languages, she again joins the war effort, aiding resistance fighters. Now she finds ways to infiltrate the criminal family in London while planning ways to protect her peace-loving neighbors.

The historical immersion is brilliantly done in all of the time frames involved, and our protagonist is a fascinating character - prickly, strong, intelligent, aloof, and tortured by something she'd had to do in the war. Other characters are also wonderfully developed, including a woman in the crime family who is overlooked but smarter than she's given credit for. The plot is woven together effectively, and the past is vividly evoked. Altogether, this is an immersive, intelligent, and compelling novel. Immensely enjoyable.
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LibraryThing member janerawoof
Kept my interest all the way. Story of a woman, Elinor, serving in the Resistance in Belgium in both world wars, whose experiences drive her to beat up on herself, so that she can't forgive herself for her first [since they are her first] and last murders. This one is of an innocent. She seeks
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redemption in her attempt to pull a young man and family away from his Mafia-like family. The young man, Jim, does not want to enter that life and has tried to escape it into the country. Character driven with plenty of adventure. Three timelines in the story, following three stages in Elinor's life: each world war and a couple of years afterwards.
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LibraryThing member pennykaplan
Jacqueline Winspear’s heroines are all alike…superheroes gifted with determination. A entertaining story of a Belgian/English woman who serves Britain as an agent during the two world wars…nicely complicated plot and characters, but I’m sorry the heroines are all so much alike.
LibraryThing member terran
Elinor White, the primary character in this book, was traumatized by her wartime experiences, including being trained to kill at only 12 years old. Elinor’s involvement in dangerous, clandestine activities, injury and mysterious psychiatric treatment leaves her unable to move on with life after
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the war. She lives a very solitary existence until a neighboring family is threatened and she becomes involved in order to protect the five-year-old daughter. She renews contact with a former wartime comrade who is now a highly placed police officer in order to gain information about the neighbor's criminal family background.
I could have done without the detailed activities and relationships of the Mackie crime family members, but their relationship with the police was important to the plot and realistically portrayed. As usual in spy stories, there is a betrayal and sacrifice which leaves me with mixed feelings at the end. I would like to know what Elinor's future holds.
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LibraryThing member acargile
I love Ms. Winspear's historical fiction novels. The reader is the same as the reader for Maisie Dobbs, and she reads the character with the same personality.

A young couple disembarks from a train in a small English town looking for a new life. Thankfully, a local farmer needs help and offers
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housing, although it's not much in way of housing. The young wife enjoys walking with her daughter and tries to befriend a local lady whom she passes frequently. This lady seems distant until the little girl pulls her in. The become nodding acquaintances. Then, the lady sees that there's a problem. Some men arrive and rough up the couple. The lady follows. Meet the white lady.

Elinor follows the men and seems to know a great deal about taking care of herself. Upon arriving in London, Elinor goes to an old friend who works with the police. Our young husband is from an infamous family, and they want him back for a job. Elinor vows to help this couple get away from the corrupt family. While working through this endeavour, the reader has many flashbacks revealing Elinor's past and how she became so capable around such rough people.

I so enjoyed the novel. Elinor has had a difficult life and has had to defend herself and others. At what point does one have faith that leave violence behind and choose peace? This is Elinor's journey.
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LibraryThing member AdonisGuilfoyle
Well, that was interminably dull. Instruction manuals have faster pacing and a better resolution. I felt like there was a decent plot bubbling under the surface - the introductory chapters were good - but the end result was laughable. Why would a supposedly intelligent and independent woman like
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Elinor trust a bent copper with her theories? Why would he indulge her obsession with a random family if he were genuine? One World War as background was interesting, two was overkill. And poor Elsie, the best character in the book, was woefully sidelined.

The writing was not only cliché bingo but also seemed to aimed at children, explaining simple terms that most people know or could be deduced from the context. Switching back and forth between both world wars and the late 1940s only dragged out the inevitable rather than building tension or developing the characters, but at least Elinor's childhood in Belgium was emotional and evocative - the SOE backstory was just ridiculous. I have no idea what the Mackie mafia subplot was supposed to be, apart from a very tenuous bridge between past and present.

I'm just disappointed. I expected a historical novel based on the real life brave men and women of the SOE and got a Hallmark aga saga.
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LibraryThing member rmarcin
Elinor White, aka DeWitt, is a former British spy who worked in both WWI and WWII. She was recruited as a young girl by Isabelle, to notify them of German trains passing, and to try to derail the trains. Later, after working in Paris after university, she returns to London, where she finds
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devastation. She once again returns to service in WWII. A death of a child haunts her.
Now, in post-war London, she meets a young family in turmoil. Elinor calls upon her old friends to inquire about this family and their business. She uncovers a crime family, but wonders how far into the government they infiltrated. She tries to save the family, while also redeeming herself from her past.
Good story, an enjoyable and interesting read.
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LibraryThing member thornton37814
Elinor DeWitt, aka MIss White, lives in a village in Kent. When her neighbor experiences threats from his family which is involved in organized crime, she wants to take action for his small daughter's sake. Although Dutch, she assisted in the English in espionage during the war, receiving a special
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"grace and favor" property for her assistance. She has the connections to provide help and the skills to help the family. This is one of those dual timeline stories, and it really doesn't work very well. The ending fell flat for me. This is not Winspear's best work.
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LibraryThing member 4leschats
Elinor White has lived through two world wars and helped to defend her country in both. Now, she lives in a "grace and favor" cottage in a small British hamlet. While her intent is to keep to herself, she is drawn into connection by baby Susie. When she finds mother Rose holding Susie and crying,
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Elinor finds herself drawn into conflict with the powerful Mackie family who want Susie's father, Jim, to return to the criminal fold.

As Elinor seeks to help Jim, Rose, and Susie escape, she reunites with old colleagues and discovers layers of duplicity that have harmed her for years. Making friends with Elsie Mackie, Elinor also sees how men in all areas underestimate the power of a strong woman.
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0062867989 / 9780062867988

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