Yes, belonging to two book groups is a challenge, and I still haven’t finished The Children’s Book that I wrote about last time. I do have an excuse; one of the book groups is run in our wonderful local library and the Library service provide a set of books for members to borrow so that it is completely free to join in. Horray! What with one thing and another there were insufficient copies of the book to go round this month, so I did borrow one and speed re read it so that I could return it for another member to have lots of time. If I ever wondered why I do these things, I remember the literature courses that I have done during the day over the years which required reading things like Middlemarch instantly. I was talking to someone earlier who was tackling Mill on the Floss for a group. I read that for a course and was depressed for days! Despite both of us coming from the Midlands, I think that the latter tome was not one of Eliot’s best.
But I digress…
The book that I did speed re read was Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear. This is a very early Maisie Dobbs mystery and one which features a lot (too much?) of her ability to feel atmosphere and emotions.
It is very good on the after effects of World War one, and is a good murder mystery in its own right. It is a good idea to have the same detective and her associates in each book as it saves a lot of time in reexplaining motivations, abilities and emotions, provided of course it is able to stand alone for someone who hasn’t read the earlier books. If I had picked this one up without reading the previous novel I may have been a bit confused, but equally there is a lot of wallowing in past challenges in this book.
Maisie is drawn into seeking a lost woman and cannot avoid becoming involved in a murder mystery. There is a bit of deliberate concealing of relevant facts which is not quite within the rules of crime writing, but this is still a fascinating read. I have written about one of her later books in this series, which became bogged down in Windspear’s evident research on Gypsies. I think that she has a tendency to hang each book on a topic and become a bit obsessed. Overall I like the Maisie Dobbs books and would definitely borrow more in the series. I think that I would invest in the complete set if I saw them going cheap; certainly my experience of rereading this one shows that I spotted other aspects of the novel and picked up on other themes this time through. I don’t usually re read books that I am not studying, but at least I read it quickly!