Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review of The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear

From USA Today --

Jacqueline Winspear's 'Mapping of Love and Death' doesn't disappoint --

By Deirdre Donahue --
04/14/2010 --

Sometimes when you adore a series, you're terrified to crack open the next installment, fearing disappointment. Fortunately, Jacqueline Winspear's fans can rest easy. Her new Maisie Dobbs mystery, The Mapping of Love and Death, the seventh in the series, is excellent.

Begun in 2003, Winspear's series centers on Dobbs both as a character and as a symbol of the seismic upheavals — social, cultural, economic — that World War I caused in Britain. Dobbs, who comes from London slums, starts off as a maid in a great house. Her thirst for knowledge eventually lands her at Cambridge University.

She leaves that haven to volunteer as a battlefront nurse in France. The war exposes her to love and to soul-searing carnage. Marked forever, Dobbs trains as an investigator/psychologist, setting up shop in Depression-era London.

Mapping centers on an American family who have come to London after the remains of their missing soldier son, a trained cartographer, are found in France in 1932, two decades after the war. Also recovered: his diary and love letters from an unknown woman.

As Dobbs unravels the dead soldier's past, her creator brings the story to a satisfying conclusion. But the real pleasure is Winspear's insights into human beings and history.

Most moving is the way Winspear, a Brit living in California, captures the doomed young man's yearning for the sun as he sits in the mud of the Somme.

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