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Jennifer Vido | Jen's Jewels Interview: THE WHITE LADY by Jacqueline Winspear


The White Lady
Jacqueline Winspear

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A Novel


April 2023
On Sale: March 21, 2023
Featuring: Elinor
352 pages
ISBN: 0062867989
EAN: 9780062867988
Kindle: B0B6YMJGNM
Hardcover / e-Book
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Also by Jacqueline Winspear:
The Comfort of Ghosts, June 2024
The White Lady, April 2023
A Sunlit Weapon, April 2023
A Sunlit Weapon, April 2022

Jennifer Vido: What inspired your new standalone novel, The White Lady?

Jacqueline Winspear:  I wanted to explore the life of a female character who had served in two wars, from girlhood to womanhood – and who is then faced with a skirmish in a third war, that of the fight against organized crime in post-war 1947 London. Her background was never going to be passive – she was trained in the art of killing in the Great War and is called upon to do the same in the Second World War.

Writing this novel gave me leave to explore how people endure war and the scars that remain, even though, for most, those scars are hidden in the quest to just get on with life after peace has been declared.  As one of the characters said in my novel, Birds of a Feather, “War is never over when it’s over – it lives on inside the living.”

 

 Jen: Who is Elinor White, and what has brought her to the English village of Shacklehurst?

Jacqueline:  Elinor is the woman who has served in two wars in undercover resistance roles. She lives in a “grace and favor” house on the outskirts of the village of Shacklehurst, Kent. A grace and favor property is one given to a servant of the Crown to live in for the rest of their lives as a mark of gratitude for service to the country.  To all intents and purposes, Elinor is retired though only 43 years of age.

Those who read my memoir, This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing, will recognize the woman who inspired the character of Elinor White.  This story has been percolating since I was three years of age.

 

 Jen: How does the arrival of the Mackie family impact Elinor’s present circumstances?

Jacqueline: The Mackie family – Jim and Rose Mackie and their little girl, Susie – are Elinor’s neighbors, and they arrived in the area roughly at the same time.  However, though Elinor is protective of her privacy, the little girl draws her from her shell.  It’s the threat to the family – especially Susie – that draws Elinor into the brutal world of post-WW2 organized crime in London.

 

Jen: What sparked your interest in addressing the tragic misfortunes of women and children during wartime?

Jacqueline:  Simply knowing about the way in which children are impacted by war. I saw it in my mother and how her wartime experiences – evacuation to live with strangers, and later the experience of being bombed out of her house and home more than once, and simply living through a time of conflict – impacted her. That drew me to find out more about how children are affected by conflict.  It was an interest rooted long before I ever became a professional writer.

 

Jen: Typically, how much research is needed for your novels to ring true with readers? And what are some fascinating tidbits about WWII you’ve learned along the way?

Jacqueline:  There is no prescriptive response to this question.  At this point in my life and work, as a writer of historical fiction concentrating on a given era, I don’t have to conduct loads of new “research” as such – I have so much information at my fingertips, though there are sometimes specifics I need to clarify. However, I’m always asked about research, and although facts play a crucial part in anchoring the narrative in its time and place, it is really important to underline that the most important element is the story and the universal truths that can only be revealed in a work of fiction.  If a writer gets too bogged down in research, then the storytelling can suffer.  The most important element regarding research is not how much you do but how you use it – and my general rule of thumb is that research is like an iceberg: only 7 per cent should be visible above the surface.  If you are determined to use every scrap of research material, you might as well be writing narrative non-fiction.  Too many facts peppered throughout the story are like speed bumps on a road and can be detrimental to reader enjoyment.

I don’t think I learned or used any new knowledge about WW2 – I just braided what I knew to be true into the story.

 

 Jen: What’s the best way for readers to stay up to date on your latest happenings?

Jacqueline:  There’s my website – particularly my newsletter archive, as my newsletters are really essays on an element of behind the story.

I also write a regular blog on some aspects of women’s history/women’s lives:  https://womensong.com

Finally, I keep my readers up to date via my Facebook page.

 

Jen: What’s on your TBR stack?

Jacqueline:  Femina: A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of It, by Janina Ramirez.  Oppenheimer: A Life Inside the Center, by Ray Monk.  I’m also currently reading The Laughter, a novel by Sonora Jha, and waiting in the wings is Wallace Stegner’s All The Little Live Things.

 

Jen: Thanks for stopping by to chat about The White Lady. Best of luck with your fascinating thriller.

THE WHITE LADY by Jacqueline Winspear

The White Lady

A Novel

 

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.

 

Mystery Historical [Harper, On Sale: March 21, 2023, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780062867988 / eISBN: 9780062868008]

Buy THE WHITE LADYAmazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Love's Sweet Arrow | Walmart.com | Book Depository | Target.com | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Jacqueline Winspear

Jacqueline Winspear is the author of two previous Maisie Dobbs novels, Maisie Dobbs and Birds of a Feather. A national bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book, Maisie Dobbs was nominated for seven awards. Birds of a Feather has been nominated for the 2004 SCBA Best Mystery Novel, as well as the Dilys, the Agatha, and the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award. Originally from the United Kingdom, Winspear now lives in California.

Maisie Dobbs

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK

About Jennifer Vido

Jennifer Vido

Jennifer Vido writes sweet romances set in the Lowcountry filled with southern charm and hospitality. In between chapters, she interviews authors for her bi-weekly Jen’s Jewels column on FreshFiction.com. Most mornings, she teaches an arthritis-friendly water exercise class for seniors before heading to the office to serve as the executive director of a legal non-profit. A New Jersey native, she currently lives in Maryland with her husband and two rescue dogs and is the proud parent of two sons who miss her home-cooked meals. To learn more, please visit her website.

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