The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War by Jaqueline Winspear, review by Shirley Wells
Inspired in part by her own family history, Jacqueline Winspear—best-selling author of the Maisie Dobbs mysteries—has written a stand-alone novel with World War I as its setting. Coinciding with the centennial of the Great War--the first devastating, “modern” war of the 20th century—the publication of The Care & Management of Lies provides readers with a social history of war, showing what happens to ordinary people faced
with difficult and extraordinary circumstances.
In this case, the war is viewed chiefly through the lives of two British women, friends since school and now sisters-in-law. Politically active, Thea Brissenden is involved with women's suffrage, but after narrowly avoiding arrest at a war protest, she escapes (ironically) to the battlefield, volunteering as an ambulance driver in France. Kezia Marchant Brissenden follows the more conventional route of marrying Thea's brother Tom and becoming a farmer's wife. But when her husband is sent to France, Kezia breaks from the housewife mold to manage the staff and run the farm alone while writing imaginative letters to her soldier husband, describing fanciful meals she prepares for him in her mind in an attempt to keep his spirits alive. The correspondence back and forth between Kezia and Tom provides a small escape for her, Tom, and even his fellow soldiers to whom
he reads the letters aloud.
This moving portrayal offers readers a detailed glimpse of the dangers of war, the smells, the hunger, even the rats in the trenches, as well as the camaraderie and closeness of the men as they fight the enemy together. At home, the rationing, the separation from loved ones, and the government acquisition of land, livestock, and crops create a whole other type of battle that must be endured. The Care and Management of Lies presents a touching account of friendship, love, and loss amid the brutal chaos of war.