Oh, well. Sometimes we finish books against our own better judgment, and I’m going to chalk this one up to Hurricane Irene. I read the first of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs books some time ago and didn’t like it. First, I am cranky about plucky class-disadvantaged heroines in historical novels. Second, Winspear’s writing strikes me as frequently awkward. Maybe she’s reaching for formality to give a flavor of the English inter-war period. But dialogue like this (from An Incomplete Revenge) is pretty wooden. This is Maisie talking to Billy Beale, her assistant:
Normally I would refrain from the widespread search of a property — it can be time-consuming at a point when manpower might be better utilized elsewhere. However, in this case I think it’s better than nothing. Billy, the boys found the silver close to the chestnut tree where they were collecting conkers. If we make an assumption that whoever made off with the goods leaped over the wall and then dropped the locket and paperweight as he landed and ran, more items might have been lost or a trail might still exist.”
I’ve stayed away from Winspear’s books since, but time hung heavy on my hands yesterday what with the streaming rain and howling wind and no subway service. I had picked up An Incomplete Revenge in the laundry room (again!), wondering if I should give Maisie another try. And really, I shouldn’t have. I was lured in by two themes: hops picking and gypsies. (You always hear about hops picking, right?) On both topics, I should have stuck with Wikipedia.