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Reviews of The White Lady by Jacqueline Winspear

The White Lady

A Novel

by Jacqueline Winspear

The White Lady by Jacqueline Winspear X
The White Lady by Jacqueline Winspear
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2023, 336 pages

    Mar 2024, 336 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Book Summary

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.

Chapter 1

Kent, England

Every morning as Rose Mackie leaned over the bars of the wooden cot and picked up her three-year-old daughter, she gave thanks for the cottage. She gave thanks for the roof over her head, and she gave thanks for the fact that she wasn't putting up with Jim's mum and dad, and she wasn't living in a London prefab set among the thousands of other London prefabs built in haste to accommodate families left homeless during six years of war. She gave thanks because her little Susie could run across fields in fresh country air, and the child didn't have to wear a scarf over her nose to protect her tiny lungs from the lumpy yellow-green London smog that looked like something nasty the dog had brought up. Just the thought of those pea-soupers made Rose feel queasy.

A lot of things made Rose feel sick about living in London, the city its dwellers called "the Smoke." There was Jim's family, for a start—in fact, his family alone amounted to a good reason not to ...

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While some fans may be delighted with a chance to enjoy a variation on Winspear's well-regarded heroine, others may view it more with a sense of "been there, done that." Regardless, The White Lady features rich historical fiction and an intriguing protagonist. This fast-moving novel is sure to be a hit with many, and is recommended for most audiences, particularly those who enjoy books about the war years. It's sure to attract new fans to Winspear's works and would also make a good book group selection...continued

Full Review Members Only (597 words)

(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

New York Journal of Books
The White Lady is a perfect fit for lovers of historical mysteries featuring intrepid, resourceful women who emerge as equal to their male colleagues and sometimes are more courageous. As a neighbor comments about Elinor, 'She's handy with a gun.' And she's very clever. This is an excellent outing for Winspear.

Booklist (starred review)
Winspear is an absolute master of the character-driven thriller ... [and] the real strength of the novel, lies in the poignant and beautifully written backstory of Elinor's childhood in war-torn Belgium and her personal losses in a devastated London.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A poignant story of courage, misogyny, and misused power. A tense history-based thriller filled with anguish and suspense.

The Washington Post
Elinor's single-handed battle against the coldblooded gang is tied to this novel's timely theme: how men have always underestimated women and how women have used that to their advantage ... That Elinor uses this power for good is among the many reasons she is such an appealing character — and one I hope readers will get to know better someday.

Library Journal
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.

Publishers Weekly
Smart, nuanced...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.

Author Blurb Lee Child
The White Lady is wonderful ... a tense and twisty character-driven thriller, a heartfelt tribute to the twentieth century's bravest women, and a perfect match between story and storyteller. No one does this better than Jacqueline Winspear.

Author Blurb Louise Penny
The White Lady is a triumph of storytelling. Rarely have I been swept up into a novel, into the lives of the main characters, so quickly and thoroughly. 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.

Reader Reviews


: An Engrossing Tale of Mystery and History:
The interesting book "The White Woman" deftly consolidates parts of secrets, history, and the paranormal. novel vehicles the peruser on an exhilarating journey through time, holding their consideration until the absolute last page with its drawing in...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

British Women in the Second World War

WAAF teleprinter-operators in Debden, EssexJacquelin Winspear's heroine, Elinor White, was a member of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) during the Second World War, one of several British organizations in which women enlisted to aid the war effort.

When war broke out in 1939, millions of men left the workforce in Great Britain to enlist, leaving behind their wives, sisters, and mothers to manage the home front. It soon became apparent, however, that Britain needed these women to fill the newly vacant positions, and the government started a campaign to encourage women to take jobs outside the home. Many heeded the call, but the numbers didn't come close to filling the void.

Consequently, in 1941, the British government passed the National Service Act legalizing the ...

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