I am so enjoying our Maisie Dobbs Read-Along! As we head ever closer to the newest book published in the series, I'm already wondering what I will read when it's over! But more on that later. We have just finished reading An Incomplete Revenge, the 5th book in Jacqueline Winspear's series and I'm eager to discuss it.
In this latest installment, Maisie is called upon by James Compton - the son of Lord and Lady Compton, to investigate on his behalf for a potential business deal he has brewing. The story of the investigation is intertwined with the long-forseen death of her wartime love Simon Lynch, who finally succumbs to his war injuries.
With the country in the grip of economic malaise, Maisie Dobbs is relieved to accept an apparently straightforward assignment to investigate a potential land purchase. Her inquiries take her to a picturesque village in Kent during the hop-picking season, but beneath its pastoral surface she finds evidence that something is amiss. Mysterious fires erupt in the village with alarming regularity, and a series of petty crimes suggest a darker criminal element at work. A peculiar secrecy shrouds the village, and ultimately Maisie must draw on her finely-honed skills of detection to solve one of her most intriguing cases yet.
1. In this novel, we learn more about Maisie's heritage, as we discover that her grandmother on her mother's side was a Gypsy. What did you think of this revelation, how it played into the story and how it affects Maisie as a person?
2. As An Incomplete Revenge opens, Maisie has taken on a new pursuit, weaving. I thought that this hobby nicely echoed the work she does as an investigator, with her case maps connecting the threads and patterns of events and motivations. Winspear uses the weaving theme to describe her relationship with Maurice as well, when she refers to the "serious rent in the fabric" of their relationship. I hope we see Maisie weaving again in future novels. What did you think of her striking out in this creative new way?
3. I really enjoyed the character of Beattie Drummond. She's a rougher version of Maisie in a way, a young woman who is literally scrambling to get out of her hamlet to have a career. What did you think of Beattie, and of how she and Maisie interacted?
4. In nearly all of the novels so far there is both the immediate crime to be investigated as well as another crime from the past that has an impact on present events. In this novel, that past crime seems to be the most horrific yet -- an innocent family murdered by their entire town. I found it very hard to take this in, but of course fear and hatred fueled by a mob mentality has done far worse (and with WWII just on the horizon of Maisie's world, more horror of this kind is yet to come). What did you think of the reality of what truly happened to the van Maarten family?
5. Sadly, it is in An Incomplete Revenge that Maisie lays to rest her beloved Simon, who, after living for so many years unaware of his surroundings and unable to do anything for himself, finally fully succumbs to his war injuries. But with his death, we see an opening for Maisie to begin to live her life. What did you think of Simon's passing, his mother's reaching out to Maisie and how Maisie handles it all?
6. In addition to weaving, we also see Maisie dance in this novel, and it ends with her dancing alone in her apartment. What do you think Winspear is trying to tell us about Maisie through her dancing?
7. I enjoyed the Cockney slang as well as other new words I learned while reading An Incomplete Revenge and plan to use my nous (common sense) to remember to pack a bottle of Vimto (a purple soft drink) the next time I go to play some conkers (a game in which each player swings a horse chestnut on a string to try to break one held by an opponent), and hope that my gammy (lame) leg doesn't slow me down and that I don't get a birching (beating with a branch). What words or phrases were new to you?
We'll be discussing Among the Mad, the 6th Maisie Dobbs novel, on Monday, March 28th. If you still need a copy of the book, I have three to give away to the first three people who tell me that they still need it! My thanks to Picador for the giveaway copies.
The Mapping of Love and Death, the 7th novel in the series is on sale in paperback now (and we'll discuss it here on April 11th.) A Lesson in Secrets, the 8th and newest novel in the series is on sale on March 22nd. We'll be discussing that on April 25th and we'll be welcoming Jacqueline Winspear to Book Club Girl on Air the following night, April 26th to discuss all things Maisie Dobbs!
To stay updated on all events, be sure to follow along on Facebook. And check out Jacqueline Winspear's tour for A Lesson in Secrets to see if she'll be in a town near you!