Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Divided between past and present, between her female
gender and her male-dominated profession, and between her British identity
and part-gypsy ancestry, Maisie Dobbs is a character of intense inward
divisions. How do these divisions both complicate and strengthen Maisie as a
A variety of pivotal scenes in An Incomplete
Revenge involve dramatic uses of fire. What range
of moods, feelings, or symbolic meanings does fire represent in the novel?
Although several of the residents of Heronsdene are
developed individually as characters, the townspeople are also dominated by
an ominous group psychology. What might Winspear be suggesting through her
portrayal of this town about the limits of people's abilities to think or
choose for themselves?
Maisie is freer from class prejudice than most of the
other characters in Winspear's novel. Nevertheless, does an awareness of
class difference influence her relationships with people like Billy Beale
and Priscilla Evernden? How?
Animals, especially dogs and horses, appear prominently
Incomplete Revenge. How do their presence and the
way they are treated help us to better understand Winspear's human
Followers of the Maisie Dobbs series have shared the
heroine's dread anticipation of the death of her long-incapacitated friend
Simon Lynch. Does his death in
Revenge affect Maisie (or you) in the ways that
you anticipated? What choices does Winspear make in describing Maisie's
emotional response, and do you agree with them?
A character from a previous Maisie Dobbs mystery observed
that war is despicable because it is "not over when it ends." How might this
seeming paradox be applied to
Revenge? Through the death of Simon Lynch and the
group confession that marks a climax in the novel, do you think Maisie and
the townspeople of Heronsdene are moving toward a long-awaited closure, or do you think they will
continue to be trapped and haunted by the memories of the Great War? On what
do you base your judgment?
What is Maisie's attitude toward the gypsy elements in
her ancestry? In a novel that counsels the acceptance and understanding of
different ethnicities, is Maisie sufficiently accepting of her own mixed
At the end of the novel, Maisie dances alone in her
apartment. Discuss the significance of this gesture.
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Picador.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.
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