Thursday, March 7, 2013

ELEGY FOR EDDIE by Jacqueline Winspear

In Jacqueline Winspear’s Elegy for Eddie, I had a continuing feeling for the victim.

Usually I care about the detective or the other characters. This time, the whole thing was about Eddie.

The story starts with Eddie. We see his birth in a horse stall. We see his “simple mindedness.” We see his ability to communicate with horses. And we see him being used in a much larger scheme.

Eddie’s skills—his love of horses, his ability to remember details and drawings, his ability to go places almost unnoticed, his desire to please—set him up to be exploited.

It is April, 1933. The world is on the edge of massive change. Maisie Dobbs, a feminist woman detective, is facing changes she doesn’t even know are coming.

Eddie’s death appears to be an accident. But Eddie’s friends hire Maisie because they think someone murdered Eddie.

Maisie herself is in an ambiguous relationship. She loves a young entrepreneur whose work would require her to be a socialite. There is no way Maisie will do that. But she has to figure that out for herself.

Along the way, someone almost kills Maisie’s assistant. Maisie herself has to face her own controlling ways. And Maise finds out about a conspiracy to prepare for the upcoming war.

But still, for me the whole book came down to Eddie. I loved Eddie. I admired Eddie. And I felt sad that the beauty of Eddie’s personality made him subject to be used. 

Elegy for Eddie made me think again of the massive changes the world faced about the time I was born.  The industrial age was maturing and would then give way to something else. America was coming into its own. Britain’s power was waning, something that would become more clear in the blitzkrieg. Even the disgraced Winston Churchill was on the edge of his greatest hour.

This is a book for history lovers. It is also a book for people who care about the Eddies of the world.

I have had this book on my "to-be-read" list for quite a while. When it became available in an inexpensive e-edition from Amazon, I jumped at the chance to read it. I’m glad I did.   

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