Miss Elinor White is a new heroine in Jacqueline Winspear’s large catalogue of early 20th century novels set in England. Fans of the Maisie Dobbs nooks will be familiar with author Winspear’s dedication to documenting, albeit in fiction, the fortitude of Brits caught up in World War I and World War II.
The first chapter opens in 1947, post-war England, as Elinor is poised to return to secret resistance missions like those she carried out in both wars. Her acquaintance with Jim, Rose, and little Susie Mackie prompts her to protect them from war-like evil. The timeframe switches to 1914 Belgium in the next chapter. Readers find pre-teen Elinor surrounded by terror and violence inflicted on a neutral nation by Germany. And so the story unfolds in chapters set in 1914-17 and 1944-47.
Author Winspear delves into Elinor’s musings, self-recriminations and commitment to saving innocent lives as the storyline advances. Hints at potential blurring of the line between good and evil emerge as more characters are added to the mix. The gruesome details punctuate an already grim tale. At times there’s little hope for resolution of Elinor’s dilemmas. Readers will have to decide whether to commit or quit before the end.