Monday, March 20, 2023

The White Lady by Jacqueline Winspear

First Lines: Kent, England. 1947. Every morning as Rose Mackie leaned over the bars of the wooden cot and picked up her three-year-old daughter, she gave thanks for the cottage.
Life in her grace-and-favor cottage in the rural English countryside is just what Elinor White has longed for. Although her fellow villagers know that her cottage was provided by the Crown for services rendered during the recent war, they have no idea that her service actually began during World War I... or how dangerous it was.
Elinor is happy keeping herself to herself until young farmworker Jim Mackie, his wife Rose, and their tiny daughter Susie are threatened. Jim, too, has worked hard to escape his past. He wants no part of his family's life of organized crime, but his brothers track him down and insist that he comes back for a big job they're planning-- or else.
Things are looking rather dire until the Mackies learn that they have Elinor White on their side. You see, Elinor White has worked almost her entire life to ensure that predators never catch their prey. Not on her watch.
Having been a fan of Jacqueline Winspear's long-running Maisie Dobbs series, I looked forward to seeing how her new heroine, Elinor White, would measure up. I'm happy to say that, in The White Lady, Elinor measures up quite nicely although I didn't grow to care for her as I did Maisie.

Readers see Elinor both in 1947 and as a teenager in Belgium during World War I. Her backstory illuminates Elinor's character and makes us wonder just how many other women were forced to do the same things Elinor did in order to survive. One of the most poignant scenes in The White Lady occurs when the young Elinor is attending class once her family has escaped to England. The teacher tells the girls that almost all the young men they could have been expected to marry have been slaughtered in the trenches of World War I, and that means that these girls will have to do well in school and learn how to take care of themselves; there will be no husbands to provide for them, no children to take care of them in their old age.

Elinor carries a lot of guilt for the things she had to do during both wars, and she believes that saving the Mackies from being dragged back into the criminal ways of their family is her chance for redemption. How she goes about saving them uncovers corruption in surprising places.

The White Lady is a strong story with much to say about survival, guilt, and redemption, and Elinor White is a character I wanted to embrace wholeheartedly. However, I always felt as though she never opened the door of her cottage to me, and it was that lack of emotional resonance that spoiled my reading a bit. Your mileage could definitely vary.
The White Lady by Jacqueline Winspear
eISBN: 9780062868008
HarperCollins © 2023
eBook, 336 pages
Historical Mystery, Standalone
Rating: B 
Source: Net Galley


  1. I like Maisie Dobbs as a character, Cathy, so I know what you mean about Elinor not quite measuring up. Still, Winspear is quite good at setting the historical context and depicting time and place. And she writes interesting characters. Glad you thought this was a good 'un.

    1. Yes, it is a good one. It will be interesting to see if it's a standalone or actually the beginning of a new series.

  2. Maybe Elinor will open up and you'll be able to connect better with her in subsequent books. I have to say, the premise of this one, and Elinor herself intrigue me. Might have to check this one out. :D

  3. I've got this one on my 'to try' list and will see how it goes. Like Lark, I'm hoping that this might be a 'first in a series' book and Elinor will reveal more. Or maybe that's just how she is. Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. The publisher is acting like it's a standalone. We shall see.

  4. Winspesr is such a good writer that a B for her is probably an A for others. Thanks for the reminder to add this to my library hold list!


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