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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Levitt, Steven D.; Dubner, Stephen J.: Freakonomics | Main | Davies, Martin: The Conjurer's Bird »

Winspear, Jacqueline: An Incomplete Revenge

  

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Henry Holt © 2008, 336 pages
3.5 stars

An Incomplete Revenge is the fifth installment in Jacqueline Winspear's series featuring investigator/psychologist Maisie Dobbs. In this outing Maisie is asked to look into a rash of petty crimes and suspicious fires in the village of Heronsdene, where her client, James Compton, is hoping to purchase a large property. Maisie's employment coincides with hop picking season, and the village and its neighboring farms are consequently flooded with outsiders, migrant workers of a sort--Londoners, including Maisie's assistant Billy Beale and his family, who work the fields every fall to earn some extra cash. The gardens are also being worked by a family of gypsies who turn out to be integral to the story.

Winspear's plot is slow-moving but ultimately rewarding, as Masie comes to unravel the mystery of Heronsdene, the great secret that has wrapped the villagers in a sort of collective depression since the Great War ended. But one doesn't really read a Maisie Dobbs novel for the plot, at least not primarily. Nor are Winspear's characters the dominant feature of her books. Maisie may be a well-developed character--saddled as she is with the Great Unhappy Fact of her life, her beau's tragic injury in the War. But her concerns and sorrows fail to move me, I'm afraid. Winspear's series is more about the atmosphere of the books, the feel of England after the War, when people were still smarting from their losses, a time that was slower than ours but which had seen its horrors. The author pays a great deal of attention to period details--for example, her descriptions of clothing and room furnishings. But these can be overdone:

"She had only to knock once, and the door was opened by a woman in her early sixties, wearing a gray skirt with a blue cardigan and a floral sleeveless wraparound housecoat fastened with a length of cord around the waist. She wore knitted stockings that had gathered at the ankle and black lace-up shoes. Her hair was tied back in a bun so tight it seemed to pull at the corner of her eyes."

All this--and the woman's parlor is described at some length as well--about an unimportant character.

The book is a slow read, with small moments sometimes stretched too far by way, I suppose, of setting the mood:

"Maisie reached for her tea, which she had set down when the interview began. She sipped; then, continuing to rest the saucer in her hand, she held the cup to her lips but did not drink. When she sipped again, she looked directly at Sandermere."

That pace (just drink the damned tea, Maisie!), combined with the somber tone of the books--Maisie is herself wrapped in a bit of depression, tied with a length of cord around the waist--make for a moody read. That's not necessarily a bad thing: you'll just not be skipping merrily through Winspear's pages.

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Comments

1.

Hello Deb

I just dropped by to tell you that I have given you an award. If you click on my name it should be linked to the correct page.
Just in case here it is again:
http://paradise-mysteries.blogspot.com/2009/01/bloggers-who-inspire-me.html

2.

I really like Winspear's style. Haven't read this novel yet, but looking forward to it. Thanks.




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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.