Publication date: July 1, 2014
Thea and Kezia have been friends since childhood and have just finished college to begin their teaching careers in The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear. That is until Kezia decides to marry Thea’s brother Tom, leaving Thea feeling isolated and betrayed. While Kezia adapts to married life and being a farmer’s wife, Thea throws herself into the suffragette movement. Then the war comes and their relationship is further frayed when Thea’s suffragette beliefs turn into active pacifism. With details of both the stir and activity in London played off against the more bucolic feel of life in the country, Winspear manages to give the reader a portrait of England as the war began and then as it went beyond the brief skirmish so many believed it would be into a slog from which the end was not visible.
But he knew, too, that he had not surmounted fear, that he might never overcome the terror inside. He knew it lived with him, would eat with him and would go to bed with him at night and come to him in his dreams. Yet he was not afraid of death, of that final moment of life. He was afraid of the dying that came before the end.
Winspear fills The Care and Management of Lies with such a varied cast that all aspects of the war are represented, from those left behind, to the battlefields and their horror.With impeccable pacing she then divides the action between the farm as Kezia strives to manage it in Tom’s absence to the fields of war in France where her husband and numerous other men struggle and suffer in battles that gain neither side any purchase just more and more dead. For Kezia, still a newlywed, the best way she can help her husband is to write him letters filled with descriptions of the dinners she is cooking for him in his absence. A woman who had never had to cook for herself, her inventive combinations and mishaps become Tom’s link to the world he left behind and the woman he loves. What he cannot know is that there is no food, that everything has been requisitioned by the army and Kezia is eating only marginally better than he is.
As each character moves through the novel Winspear shares the most intimate details of their inner life as they try to make do with a situation none of them thought they’d be facing. Tom ends up in a battalion reporting to his next door neighbor, Kezia is asked to take a German POW as a field hand to keep the farm functional, and Thea faces the worst of what war does and realizes that perhaps her judgment of her friend was unwarranted. In The Care and Management of Lies Winspear populates the battlefields in France and the farm land in England with characters of depth and detail in a novel that is compulsively readable. Like the war the tension ratchets up as the war rages on and the losses mount. Who will be impacted?
This book can be purchased online at:
The Elliott Bay Book Company
Have you read a lot of Winspear? I’ve always wanted to read her, but haven’t know where to start. Is this a good start?
I’d not read any Winspear before this. I know she has a whole series of novels with a WWI heroine. It was good summer reading.