World War I and its aftermath provided fertile ground for a mystery, says British-born Jacqueline Winspear, as she proves in her popular “Maisie Dobbs” series – 13 in the collection now. Her readers can hear Winspear discuss her inspiration and her craft at a free event at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 20, in the Library Center auditorium. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
Winspear’s WWI-era series and her standalone award-winning “The Care and Management of Lies” highlight the human stories and complex issues surrounding the Great War. That makes her the perfect guest speaker for the Library’s One Read, which this month is focusing on WWI through art, literature, film and scholarly lectures.
“Such great social upheaval allows for the strange and unusual to emerge, and a time of intense emotions can, to the writer of fiction, provide ample fodder for a compelling story, especially one concerning criminal acts and issues of guilt and innocence…” she writes.
“Maisie Dobbs,” the first in her series, came to Winspear while daydreaming in a traffic jam during a California rainstorm. She saw, in her mind’s eye, a young woman in the garb of the late 1920s, wearing a cloche hat and carrying a battered document case, emerging from a London subway station. “Her name was Maisie Dobbs,” Winspear explains. “She was a psychologist and investigator, and at one time had been a nurse on the battlefields of WWI France. And – as readers later learn – she is as shell-shocked as any man who went to war.”
The character stayed in her head all day, and that night she began writing what became the first chapter of “Maisie Dobbs,” her first novel. It went on to become a National Bestseller and won numerous awards. Since “An Incomplete Revenge” was published in 2008, each of her novels has been an instant New York Times and National Bestseller.
Readers thank her for providing closure on old wounds. A 94-year-old reader finally understood her own father’s post-war torment and suicide..
“Other readers – many veterans of more recent wars and their families – have reported similar experiences, and I can only imagine that reading a series of novels where the roots of each story are set in a tumultuous time of conflict can open conversation and perhaps a means of understanding,” Winspear writes.
“Indeed, humans have been trying to make sense of their lives through stories since the days when myths and legends were passed on from parent to child, or in community around a fire as the sun went down on the day.”
For more information about Winspear’s talk April 20, call 616-0564.
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