The Care and Management of Lies

Harper. Jul. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780062220509. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062220523. F
Winspear's beloved period mysteries featuring Masie Dobbs (Leaving Everything Most Loved) depict an England haunted by memories of the Great War, so it's no surprise that she uses the conflict as the backdrop to this elegiac historical, her first stand-alone novel. Kezia and Tom Brissenden have been married only a few weeks when Britain declares war on Germany on August 4, 1914. Tom enlists, leaving his town-bred bride in charge of his sprawling Kent farm. His commanding officer is Edmund Hawkes, an aristocratic neighbor whose loneliness is magnified amid the horror of the trenches. Meanwhile, Thea Brissenden, Tom's sister and Kezia's estranged best friend, volunteers as an ambulance driver on the front lines to avoid charges of sedition stemming from her involvement with a pacifist group. Kezia and Tom exchange letters full of love and well-intended deceit concocted to shield the other from anguish, while Edmund and Thea struggle to overcome self-deception and find meaning in a senseless war.
VERDICT Though this is not a mystery, Winspear's fans should welcome the keen period detail and thoughtful tone so familiar from the Maisie Dobbs books, while historical fiction readers will be gripped by this sensitive portrayal of ordinary men and women on the home front and battlefield. [See Prepub Alert, 1/26/14; for more novels about World War I, see Mara Bandy's roundup "Battle Scars," LJ 11/1/13.—Ed.]
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