Thursday, March 24, 2016
Published April 2014 by HarperCollins Publishers
Source: the publishers and TLC Book Tours
Remember last week when I hadn't finished this book when I was scheduled to review it? I finally finished it this past weekend and ended with somewhat mixed feelings about the book.
What I liked: I very much enjoyed Winspear's exploration into the life of Indian immigrants living in England between the World Wars, from young ladies who came to England as ayahs (nursemaids) only to be let go by the families who had hired them with no way home to Indian women who married British men and British women who married Indian women. All had such varied experiences and allowed Winspear to bring some Indian culture into the story.
The characters are familiar friends, although I wished we would have seen more of Priscilla (Maisie's outspoken friend) and Maisie's father who both liven up the books when they're around.
Winspear never gives away her mysteries; on the other hand, as Maisie begins putting the pieces together, it answer is always based on clues that Winspear has given readers along the line. It give me the chance to be challenged to try to solve the mystery but I'm never so far ahead of the game that things get dull.
The title is so well suited to the story, with both the young women who have traveled to England for a new life and Maisie who is planning on traveling to India leaving everything most loved.
With World War II looming on the horizon, Winspears' characters are being to see it coming and it raises some interesting moral questions which trouble Maisie and, I imagine, will cause her a lot more trouble in the new book.
What I didn't like: The relationship between James and Maisie seems stagnant and it's hard, given Maisie's thought process, to imagine that they are really as in love as Winspear tells us they are. Billy seems to be the character who will never live happily ever after, once again suffering in this book. It's a good friend to Maisie and I wish Winspear would have found a different way to move him forward without moving him backward first.
Honestly? It dragged a bit, with a lot of internal dialogue as Maisie pondered whether or not she should leave England for an extended trip following in her mentors footsteps. The idea seemed to come to her suddenly without a good explanation as to why she felt she should make the trip and then a lot of the book was spent as she tried to make herself take the leap.
Of course, we know now that there's another book after this one, but Winspear could easily have left readers with this book as the last in the series. So many things were tied up, with Billy, Sandra, and Frank all settled and the investigative business shut down. If she'd wanted to end the series in just the kind of way I like book to end, without everything ending neatly, she could easily have left us wondering where Maisie's journey would take her and whether or not she and James will every end up together. Clearly, that's not what she's doing but one does wonder if Winspear's grown tired of the series as was and is bringing Maisie back for a different kind of adventure. I've enjoyed the books enough that I'm sure I'll go along for the new ride with Maisie.