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The White Lady
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Library Journal Review
Elinor DeWitt's happy childhood in Belgium vanished in 1914 with her father's disappearance. She was only 12 in 1916 when she was trained as a resistance fighter, sabotaging trains and having to kill several German soldiers to protect her sister. She tried to put the past behind her when she taught languages in England years later but was recruited to help the Allies in the next war. A traumatic experience and a head injury ended her wartime operations. Now, in 1947, Elinor White lives in a cottage provided for services to the country. She's 43, a silent figure to most in the small village. A little girl, Susie Mackie, breaks through Elinor's protective layer. Then, Jim Mackie's family comes calling. They're a powerful crime family in London, but Jim escaped from them. They want him back in the family fold, and they threaten Jim's wife and daughter, Susie. Elinor turns for help to several of her wartime acquaintances. That's when she discovers the treachery and lies she never knew about during her wartime years. VERDICT The award-winning author of the Maisie Dobbs series skillfully juggles three timelines in a riveting stand-alone about a woman whose wartime experiences overshadow her post-war retirement.--Lesa Holstine
Publishers Weekly Review
In 1917, Elinor White, the heroine of this smart, nuanced mystery from bestseller Winspear (the Maisie Dobbs series), was working in a resistance network in German-occupied Belgium, where she, then 13, was living with her 15-year-old sister and British mother. Elinor later emigrated to England and served as a British intelligence agent. Now, in 1947, she lives quietly in Kent, staying aloof from the inhabitants of tiny Shackleford until the arrival of Jim Mackie; his wife, Rose; and their three-year-old daughter, Susie. Jim has left London and taken work as a farmhand to break away from the crime family into which he was born. His brothers are now pressuring him to help them pull off their latest criminal operation. Trauma in Elinor's past has made her acutely sensitive to children in peril, and she can't resist trying to protect Susie and her parents. As Elinor uses her undercover skills and former intelligence contacts to try to foil the Mackie brothers' plans, her sleuthing has unexpected personal repercussions. The chapters illuminating Elinor's dramatic backstory add vulnerability to her characterization, enriching the suspenseful main narrative. This will please both Winspear's fans and new readers. Agent: Amy Rennert, Amy Rennert Agency. (Mar.)
Booklist Review
After taking her readers from 1910 to 1942 in her Maisie Dobbs novels, Winspear moves forward a bit in time to 1947 and introduces another extraordinary female protagonist, Elinor White. Elinor has been identified by different names in her lifetime, including her birth name Elinor De Witt, La Dame Blanche, and Linni, as she is known to family and friends. By any name, she has always had reason to believe that "fate was sprinting toward her." Now retired in rural Kent on His Majesty's "grace and favour," after serving bravely in two world wars, Elinor is living quietly, albeit dealing with her personal demons. But when a local family is threatened, she finds herself embroiled in a new kind of battle against a dangerous crime gang with corrupt ties not only to Scotland Yard but also to the highest levels of government. No one suspects that a practiced killer is behind the threats, and even readers will be surprised by the determination and skill Elinor summons when again called upon by fate. The real strength of the novel, however, lies in the poignant and beautifully written backstory of Elinor's childhood in war-torn Belgium and her personal losses in a devastated London. Winspear is an absolute master of the character-driven thriller, and although fans will wish for more of Elinor, they will reluctantly agree that she has earned some peace.
Kirkus Review
A poignant story of courage, misogyny, and misused power. In 1947, Elinor White lives in a village in Kent in a grace-and-favor house, rewarded for her service to the crown, and keeps her own counsel. A farmworkers's cottage nearby is home to the Mackie family: Jim, Rose, and little Susie, who befriends the wary Elinor. Jim comes from a family of notorious London gangsters, and when they want him to return to the fold, they'll resort to violence to convince him. In interspersed chapters we learn about the background that Elinor keeps to herself: She was a spy during both world wars. Back in 1914, in Belgium, 10-year-old Elinor, youngest daughter of a Belgian father and English mother, tries to catch a boat to England along with her mother and sister, Cecily, before the German advance, but they're too late and return to their home, now under occupation. Some time later, a mysterious woman named Isabelle approaches their mother and recruits the two girls to spy on the Germans. It's easy for schoolgirls to appear innocuous as they count the number of trains that pass by their village. The sisters are trained in sabotage and self-defense. Elinor is a natural, but Cecily is not, and when Elinor kills two German soldiers trying to rape her sister, Isabelle smuggles them out to England--where Elinor faces another war, decades later, by working with the Special Operations Executive and returning to Belgium. Now she hopes her contacts from those days will save Jim from the clutches of the Mackie family. Her wartime experiences come back to haunt her, leaving her unable to trust anyone. In the end, it's the gangsters who tell her the truth that will shatter her world and give her hope for the future. A tense history-based thriller filled with anguish and suspense. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Instant New York Times and National Bestseller

"A triumph. . . . Winspear creates in Elinor White (the 'White Lady'), a complex, endearing, achingly flawed hero. This is both fast-paced and thoughtful, bold and nuanced, a thriller that is thrillingly human. I loved it." --Louise Penny

The White Lady introduces yet another extraordinary heroine from Jacqueline Winspear, creator of the best-selling Maisie Dobbs series. This heart-stopping novel, set in Post WWII Britain in 1947, follows the coming of age and maturity of former wartime operative Elinor White--veteran of two wars, trained killer, protective of her anonymity--when she is drawn back into the world of menace she has been desperate to leave behind.

A reluctant ex-spy with demons of her own, Elinor finds herself facing down one of the most dangerous organized crime gangs in London, ultimately exposing corruption from Scotland Yard to the highest levels of government.

The private, quiet "Miss White" as Elinor is known, lives in a village in rural Kent, England, and to her fellow villagers seems something of an enigma. Well she might, as Elinor occupies a "grace and favor" property, a rare privilege offered to faithful servants of the Crown for services to the nation. But the residents of Shacklehurst have no way of knowing how dangerous Elinor's war work had been, or that their mysterious neighbor is haunted by her past.

It will take Susie, the child of a young farmworker, Jim Mackie and his wife, Rose, to break through Miss White's icy demeanor--but Jim has something in common with Elinor. He, too, is desperate to escape his past. When the powerful Mackie crime family demands a return of their prodigal son for an important job, Elinor assumes the task of protecting her neighbors, especially the bright-eyed Susie. Yet in her quest to uncover the truth behind the family's pursuit of Jim, Elinor unwittingly sets out on a treacherous path--yet it is one that leads to her freedom.

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