Book review: The White Lady, by Jacqueline Winspear

Sometimes the library really comes through. They got me this March release by Maisie Dobbs author Jacqueline Winspear much faster than I had any reason to expect!



Title: The White Lady
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Publication Info:
Harper Collins, 2023. 321 pages (hardback or Kindle).
Source: Library

Publisher's Blurb:
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 pathyet it is one that leads to her freedom.

 My Review:
Jacqueline Winspear writes war and the aftermath of war exceptionally well, getting into the heads of survivors and the scars that live in there. In this fast-reading novel she manages to give us both WWI and WWII and a heroine who bears scars from both wars. The story moves quickly, but this isn't a non-stop-action kind of novel, but one that builds up like a mystery (and might qualify as such in some ways, though it is not a classic whodunnit, either). 

Winspear has taken a chance by making three interwoven storylines, from WWI, WWII and the "present" (about 3 years after the end of the second war), but it works, and works well. As the past gradually unfolds to get us to where Elinor White is now, the danger in the present likewise builds. I admit to finding the war-time flashbacks a bit more interesting than the real-time events, but all of it held my attention.

A part of me doesn't quite believe the resolution, as it seems a little too neat a path to freedom, to borrow the description from the blurb and not give too much away. In the end, though, I enjoyed it all, and hope Miss White finds the positive future hinted at.

My Recommendation:
A great summer read with a bit more substance to it as we are forced to think about what war does to the participants, military and otherwise. Well-written and hard to put down, as I've come to expect from the author.

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed an electronic copy of The White Lady from my library, and received nothing from the author or the publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”   

 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2023
 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.

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