Monday, March 16, 2015

Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear

Synopsis From Back Cover:

London, 1933.  Two months after Usha Pramal's body is discovered in the waters of a city canal, her brother, newly arrived in England, turns to Maisie Dobbs for help.  Not only has Scotland Yard made no arrests, but evidence indicates they failed to conduct a full investigation.  Usha had been staying at an ayah's hostel, a refuge for Indian women.  As Maisie learns, Usha was different from the hostel's other residents.  But with this discovery comes new danger, as a fellow lodger who was close to Usha is found murdered. 

As Maisie is pulled deeper into a unfamiliar yet captivating subculture, her investigation becomes clouded by the unfinished business of a previous case, and by a growing desire to see more of the world.  At the same time, her lover, James Compton, gives her an ultimatum she cannot ignore. 

It's been almost two years since I read the previous book in the series, Elegy for Eddie, and I'm finding that I can almost copy that review, and paste it here. Now since then, I have gone back to read the books I skipped over, and as of right now, I've read the entire series, including the next book, A Dangerous Place, which I will have a review of later in the week.  Maisie is still a little too angsty in this one, still a little too unsure of herself, or what she wants in life.   The title fits not only the story, but where her mindset is at.

By the way, I'm trying to write this review, and not allow it to be tainted by the fact I've already read the next one.

I know Maisie has been through a lot in her short life, that she has lost more than most of us will ever have to deal with.  Her experiences in the first World War, and what she suffered through, will always taint her perceptions of who she is, and what she wants.  I really do get it.  I also get that if Maisie was the creation of a less gifted author, that a lot of the issues would be glossed over and forgotten, and that would be a damn shame.  Maisie Dobbs in one of the most complex and four dimensional characters I've come across in a long time.  Jacqueline Winspear has done a find job at developing her into a character that is so admirably damaged.  I just wish, and while it was to a degree, that the angst had been spread out just a tad bit more.  I wish Maisie had been dealing with all of her issues the entire length of the series, and not have them come to the forefront in the last two books.

Maisie has deep wounds that she forced to the back or her mind, thought she had dealt with, but with the death of her mentor Maurice, she is now having to deal with them head on.  For the last two books she has been reevaluating her place in life, what she wants out of it, and on a more fundamental level, who she is.  Me personally, I wish it hadn't taken two full books to do it, that she would have made up her mind on some of the subjects long before, but I get that I can't make a character behave in a certain way, just to appease my sense of timing.  And yes, I get that unless you have been reading this series from the beginning, you won't understand half of what I'm saying, so I apologize for that.  I can honestly say that I'm relieved by the end, because I know she is finally on the right track, that she isn't going to be stupid and reject James, that she is finally going to allow herself to be happy.

One little side note before I move onto the actual mystery aspect of the book, I'm not sure I'm completely comfortable with what happens to Billy in this book.  Having him flirt with the idea of having an affair with Sandra, seems so out of character of him.   I get that he and his family have had some horrific things happen to them, and that he probably feels more adrift than Maisie, but when is enough enough.  I think the author has done a real disservice to this character, it was almost as if she wasn't sure what to do with him anymore, so lets just screw his life up completely, and push him aside.  I know that by the end, he is back on the right track, but it still feels as if the author is done with him, and that's a crying shame.  Billy has been the oddly beating heart of the series, and it's going to be horribly saddening to see him go away.  I just wish we would  have had more closure with him, and his family, before that happened.

If you can't tell by know, this series, for me at least, is about the characters more than the mystery aspect.  As in the previous books, the mystery itself, while rather violent, still has, for lack of a better word, a gentleness about it.   This author is so gifted at writing Maisie's character into the story, it's a little hard to differentiate where her and the mystery are separated.  The author, much like Dame Christie, is gifted at weaving a rather intricate story into a tale that is both challenging, and easy to follow.  At no point in time, with any of these books, have I felt as if I was being tricked or purposefully led astray by the action.  It's, as always, well crafted and well told, and worth the read.

One last note, if you think this review is a jumbled mess, I get it.  My feelings are so over the place, so confused in my head, that writing a coherent review for this one, has been a struggle.  I tried to express myself as clearly as I could, but I'm not sure if I pulled it off.  So please accept my apologies, but also know that if I didn't like this character, and this series as much as I do, I wouldn't be having this issue.

I would like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this book. Please visit the tour page to read other reviews.

Challenges: A-Z Mystery


Katherine P said...

I've only read the first 4 books in this series but have mixed feelings about it as well. The characters are so well developed and multi-layered yet I got frustrated with what felt like a retread of the same issues over and over. I'm very surprised about the issue with Billy. From what I remember of his character it definitely doesn't feel right. I've been a bit conflicted by this series and it seems like I'm not the only one. Thanks for sharing!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I love a good character book and I can see feeling conflicted about it when the author changes things. Still it didn't put you off the next book so that tells me how well she writes. I've had series like that. One or two books weren't good but the series on the whole was good.

bermudaonion said...

Elegy for Eddie is the only Maisie book I've read and I didn't love it so I haven't read any more. I think I need more than the character of Maisie.

Bellezza said...

I haven't read this, but as you could tell from my post on A Dangerous Place, I probably won't be pursuing any more Maisie Dobbs novels. She just didn't work for me.

It's been great to read your comments at my blog, and I hope I've found the right Ryan as the gravatar wouldn't work. ;)

Debbie Rodgers said...

I agree that this series is definitely about the characters rather than the mysteries.

And I have felt frustrated and conflicted many times during the entire series - but I keep reading (and loving) them. I think that says a great deal about Winspear's writing.

The conflict is part of the draw: how boring to have everything go along as we'd like all the time.

Unknown said...

Wonderful review! It doesn't come across as a jumbled mess at all. It feels in depth and multifaceted.

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I'm not up to this point in the series yet but I will get there. Maisie is one of those characters I keep coming back to, even if I don't want to read the series straight through.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!