Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reading guide for Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Pardonable Lies

by Jacqueline Winspear

Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear X
Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2005, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 2006, 368 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. Three significant figures in Pardonable Lies -- Avril Jarvis, Pascale Clement, and the younger Maisie Dobbs of the detective's own tormented recollections -- are all about thirteen years old. Why does the novel choose this moment in the three girls' growth and development as a focal point for observation? Do the three girls have anything in common apart from age?
  2. Although a number of mothers, including Agnes Lawton, Irene Nelson, Mrs. Jarvis, and Maisie's own mother, are essentially absent as characters, they exert profound influence over events in the novel. What is the significance of the theme of the absent mother in Pardonable Lies?
  3. In quite a few classic detective novels, including The Maltese Falcon and Farewell, My Lovely, homosexual characters experience violent or disrespectful treatment. Does the treatment of homosexuality in Pardonable Lies fundamentally differ from that in older detective fictions? How and why?
  4. Compare Maisie's current relationship with Dr. Andrew Dene and the role that her crippled ex-lover Simon continues to play in her life. Which is more important to Maisie, and why?
  5. Maisie lied about her age to go to war and now routinely risks her life as a private investigator. Nevertheless, Priscilla Evernden observes that Maisie has "kept to the safe places." Is she right? Explain.
  6. Many of the characters in Pardonable Lies, including Maurice Blanche, Ralph Lawton, Jeremy Hazleton, and Maisie herself, engage in elaborate deceptions. Is there a deception in the novel that you consider less "pardonable" than the others? Why?
  7. Is there a deception in the novel that you consider more "pardonable" than the others? Why?
  8. Like Jacqueline Winspear's previous novels, Maisie Dobbs and Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies is haunted by inescapable memories of World War I. In a sense, the war is the great crime from which the legal offenses and ethical transgressions of Winspear's novels are the offshoots. How are the webs of falsehood and deception in this novel a response to the experiences and traumas of war? Do the lies in the novel make the aftermath of the war easier to bear, or do they compound the war's original immorality?
  9. Although Jacqueline Winspear frequently focuses on the physical and psychological scars of warfare, Pardonable Lies offers instances of something beautiful or noble that has emerged from the horror. Examples include the birth of Pascale Clement and Ralph Lawton's heroic service in the Flying Corps. How does the novel's introduction of these silver linings enrich or complicate Winspear's depiction of the war and its aftermath?
  10. Maisie often uses her training as a psychologist to take decisive control of a situation. Nevertheless, she sometimes experiences social situations in which she feels a lack of control. What are some of these situations, and why does she find them daunting?
  11. The daughter of a costermonger, Maisie has risen somewhat above the limitations often encountered by members of her class. However, issues pertaining to class persist in the novel. Compare Jacqueline Winspear's treatment of aristocratic characters like Sir Cecil Lawton and Priscilla Evernden with her rendering of characters like Billy Beale and Lady Rowan's servants.
  12. Maisie, who gives such extraordinary courage and support to others, must continually battle an inner sense of her own inadequacy. What are the sources of this feeling, and does she triumph over it?
  13. Maisie knows a great deal about comforting others. Consider, however, the persons from whom she derives comfort. Do they have anything in common? To whom does she turn for particular kinds of support, and why?
  14. In Chapter 8, Maisie asks herself, "What do I believe in?" Is this question answered in the novel? Does Maisie have beliefs that either strengthen or hinder her in her work or in her life?
  15. Jacqueline Winspear offers a number of detailed descriptions of her characters' clothing. Given that Maisie is such a cerebral character, highly focused on the inner workings of the mind and heart, what may be the purpose of such external descriptions in the novel?
  16. What role do Maisie's nightmares play in the unfolding of the plot and her character?


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.

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!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Liberty Equality Fashion
    Liberty Equality Fashion
    by Anne Higonnet
    With the title Liberty Equality Fashion, it may seem like Anne Higonnet's new book is an unserious ...
  • Book Jacket: Real Americans
    Real Americans
    by Rachel Khong
    Rachel Khong's sophomore novel Real Americans is an intergenerational saga that questions racial and...
  • Book Jacket: A Short Walk Through a Wide World
    A Short Walk Through a Wide World
    by Douglas Westerbeke
    From the very first page of A Short Walk Through a Wide World, debut novelist (and librarian!) ...
  • Book Jacket: The Swans of Harlem
    The Swans of Harlem
    by Karen Valby
    Journalist Karen Valby's first book, The Swans of Harlem, introduces readers to the little-known ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Romantic Comedy
by Curtis Sittenfeld
A comedy writer's stance on love shifts when a pop star challenges her assumptions in this witty and touching novel.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    This Strange Eventful History
    by Claire Messud

    An immersive, masterful story of a family born on the wrong side of history.

Win This Book
Win Only the Brave

Only the Brave by Danielle Steel

A powerful, sweeping historical novel about a courageous woman in World War II Germany.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

R is a D B S C

and be entered to win..

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.