An Incomplete Revenge
As a Maisie Dobbs newcomer, for me this book was a revelation. It is fresh, unpretentious, and totally gripping. Unlike her other books—this is the fifth in the series, and a sixth is already out–An Incomplete Revenge is set in a rural environment, in Kent where London’s “East Enders” and other seasonal labourers come every September to pick the hops. Winspear knows Kent well—she grew up there –and she not only reflects the claustrophobia of a small community but also the strength of human relationships, especially when they close ranks against a common threat.
The story is set in 1931, but the Great War still casts a long shadow over the village and its inhabitants—many of the village boys were killed when their Kent regiment was annihilated, and the village is full of other secrets. Maisie herself also faces renewed personal loss which forces her to come to terms with her past, especially with the help of a mysterious stranger, Aunt Beulah Webb, a gypsy matriarch who is portrayed with extraordinary humanity and insight. The rich detail surrounding Kentish life, hop-picking, and the visiting gypsies is skillfully woven together in this compelling story of a community forced to come to terms with its shameful past. Winspear writes about age-old themes— discrimination, prejudice, and self-discovery—with clarity and a heart-felt love of period and place.