BookBrowse has a new look! Learn more about the update here.

Excerpt from The White Lady by Jacqueline Winspear, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The White Lady by Jacqueline Winspear

The White Lady

A Novel

by Jacqueline Winspear
  • Critics' Opinion:
  • Readers' Opinion:
  • First Published:
  • Mar 21, 2023
  • Paperback:
  • Mar 2024
  • Rate this book

  • Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Rose? Rose, are you alright?"

Rose Mackie looked up, her eyes red-rimmed as she held on to Susie.

"Oh, nothing. It's nothing, Miss White. We're just getting a bit of fresh air out here. To be honest, Jim's older brothers are visiting us, and those boys never saw eye to eye, so I thought us two girls would leave them to it and get a ray or two of sunshine."

Elinor looked up as raised voices came from behind the closed front door, then back at Rose. She could see the reddish outline of a bruise beginning to form along Rose's cheekbone. "What's happening, Rose? What's going on?"

"N-nothing. Nothing at all. As I said, it's just a bit of a family upset, about ... about Jim's ... about Jim's granddad." Rose Mackie stalled; Elinor knew another lie would follow. "You know, he's getting on, and the family want to put him in a home, and well ... there's a bit of a row. And silly me, I picked up Susie and she had her toy train in her hand and bonked me on the nose with it. I'm perfectly alright—but you know how it is if you're hit on the nose, it causes a few drops of water to run." She paused, smiling through tears at her child. "Let's tell the nice lady we're perfectly happy—shall we, Susie?"

The child mimicked her mother, saying only the word "Happy" while waving Teddy One Eye.

Elinor nodded, then smiled at Susie, running her fingers through the child's curls. "Rose, look, if you and Susie—"

"Well, I'd better get going inside," said Rose, interrupting whatever Elinor White planned to say next. "I'll make Jim's brothers a nice cup of tea so they all calm down. I tell you, family! Can't live with them or without them, eh?" Rose Mackie smiled. "Wave to the lady, Susie. Wave goodbye."

Elinor returned Susie's wave, knowing it was time to turn away. She had been dismissed, her concern neither required nor welcome. She nodded to Rose, then began to walk toward the stile—though she did not proceed toward her intended route through the forest. Instead she clambered over a five-bar gate to her left and ran alongside the field toward her home, which she approached from the back garden, then along the gravel path at the side of the house to the front door. She tore off the tape from above the doorjamb, unlocked the door and closed and bolted it after entering. Speed was of the essence, but speed should never compromise diligence—even if she could not help but imagine a livid bruise beginning to flower around Susie's eye, and not her mother's. Elinor knew that if a man hit a woman, then a level of societal restraint had broken down, and in time—even a short time—brutality against a child might not be far behind. Perhaps it had already happened. And if Jim had seen a brother strike his wife and not acted, it meant he had been restrained. There was a visceral feeling deep within Elinor, a sudden internal commitment to protecting her neighbors—one in particular—so the young family would not have to endure another unexpected drop-in from Jim's siblings, who she was sure had no interest in any future arrangements for an aging grandfather.

With haste Elinor changed into a dark-grey skirt and jacket, a silk blouse, silk stockings and a pair of shoes that were both stylish and practical, the heel enough to draw attention to a well-turned ankle, but not so high that she could not run. Or drive. Picking up a black brimmed hat and her shoulder bag, she opened a drawer set underneath her desk and took out cash and a set of motor car keys. She ran down the stairs, out the front door, locked the door, replaced the tape and stepped along the path to a small barn that served as a garage at the side of the house. Selecting a key, she released a padlock securing the double doors, pulled them open and removed the cover from a black and maroon Riley RMB motor car—an automobile that could achieve a speed almost equal to that of the Ford parked outside the Mackie house. She started the motor car, then stepped out—the engine had been dormant for a while, so she had to allow a minute for the oil to get around the engine—and pressed another key into the lock of an adjacent cupboard. She nodded as she chose a silenced 9-millimeter Welrod pistol, a weapon she was well familiar with. They had called it the "bicycle pump" in the war because it could be concealed with ease and was close to silent. She locked the cupboard, took her place in the driver's seat and slipped the pistol into her shoulder bag—if she carried a bag, it would always have enough room to conceal a weapon.

Excerpted from The White Lady by Jacqueline Winspear. Copyright © 2023 by Jacqueline Winspear. Excerpted by permission of Harper. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start
discovering exceptional books!
Find Out More

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman and a Thief
    A Gentleman and a Thief
    by Dean Jobb
    In the Roaring Twenties—an era known for its flash and glamour as well as its gangsters and ...
  • Book Jacket: Early Sobrieties
    Early Sobrieties
    by Michael Deagler
    Dennis Monk is sober now, and he expects some applause. Or at least some recognition that he's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Coin
    The Coin
    by Yasmin Zaher
    A popular choice for book jackets in recent years, perhaps especially in the historical fiction ...
  • Book Jacket: The Night of Baba Yaga
    The Night of Baba Yaga
    by Akira Otani, Sam Bett
    When Yoriko Shindo gets into a brawl on a busy street in 1970s Tokyo, she has no idea what the ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Lady Tan's Circle of Women
by Lisa See
Lisa See's latest historical novel, inspired by the true story of a woman physician from 15th-century China.
Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Very Long, Very Strange Life of Isaac Dahl
    by Bart Yates

    A saga spanning 12 significant days across nearly 100 years in the life of a single man.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L T C O of the B

and be entered to win..

Win This Book
Win Smothermoss

Smothermoss by Alisa Alering

A haunting, imaginative, and twisting tale of two sisters and the menacing, unexplained forces that threaten them and their rural mountain community.

Enter

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.