Monday, March 16, 2009
An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
16. An Incomplete Revenge - fifth in the Maisie Dobbs series
by Jacqueline Winspear
paperback, 303 pages
I was so pleased when my friend Judi gave this to me for my birthday. It is a rare treat, and one all readers can appreciate, to be able to read two or more of a series back-to-back. The minute I closed Messenger of Truth, I began An Incomplete Revenge.
In this book, we travel to a place which is wrapped in pain and darkness. During the First World War, a Zeppelin dropped a bomb on a small village in Kent, killing the local baker, his wife, and daughter. Word was later received that the son was killed in battle. Many, many sons from the village also died in the war. This in itself could create such a feeling of grief, but there have also been acts of vandalism and suspicious fires over the years since the attack. They occur during the hops-picking season in September, when Londoners and gypsies come to work in the fields. The villagers distrust these two groups, and anyone else who is an outsider. Maisie is hired by a company, which wants to buy part of the local estate which houses a brickworks, to find out what is behind the episodes.
Though in many ways, the darkest of the Maisie Dobbs books so far, I really liked An Incomplete Revenge. We learn much about the Romany gypsy culture, including some of the language. I was very interested in the lurcher, the "dog of the gypsies." We get to know more about Maisie's assistant, Billy Beale, and how his family is coping with something that happened in Messenger of Truth. We hear about people from other countries who have changed their names to better 'fit into' English life. We also learn about bullying in schools, and what happens to both parties when they reach manhood. It is a book absolutely packed with historical and societal information, as well as more of Maisie's personal life. I just loved it.
At the very end of the book, Maisie's friend Priscilla gives her a gramophone and a record by "a gypsy now famous in Paris, a man who had blended French passion with the spark of the Roma."
Here is Django Reinhardt on guitar doing Minor Swing, which you may recognize from the movie Chocolat.
The next in the series, Among the Mad has just come out and I'll be buying it next year in paperback to join all the others on the shelf. These are books I can happily read again and again.