The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War

Jacqueline Winspear, author of the popular between-the-wars Maisie Dobbs mystery series (Leaving Everything Most Loved; Elegy for Eddie), steps back a few years with a standalone novel set in the first few months of World War I. Written in gentle, elegiac prose, The Care and Management of Lies focuses on the lives of three people: brother and sister Tom and Thea Brissenden, and Kezia Marchant, best friend of Thea and new wife of Tom.

Tom and Kezia are slightly worried by Thea's suffragette ways, but life is mostly quiet and content for the Brissendens until the war breaks out. Tom enlists, leaving Kezia struggling to run the farm alone as Thea heads off to France as an ambulance driver. At the core of the story are the letters that Tom and Kezia exchange. Kezia writes up lavish meals that she pretends she's serving to Tom (although he doesn't know that there are food shortages back home, and that Kezia's cooking is imaginary). In return, Tom writes about how he misses Kezia, and what he'd change about her cooking, rather than about the rats in the trenches and the sergeant who has it in for him.

The letters are engaging, connecting the reader to Tom and Kezia through meals that they aren't actually eating. And somehow, the beauty of their carefully managed lies transcends the inevitable tragedy that war brings to the Brissendens. Maisie Dobbs fans won't be the only ones to enjoy this quiet novel; the centenary of the Great War is honored in truly fitting fashion by The Care and Management of Lies. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

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