65 pages • 2 hours readJacqueline Winspear
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The narrative turns to Lady Rowan Compton’s history and biography to explain how she came to occupy such an important role in Maisie’s life. Lady Rowan was born in 1863, determined to pursue her interests despite society's limits on her conduct as a woman. The young Rowan befriended Maurice Blanche, a school friend of her brother’s. Maurice was unique in his intellectual gifts and ability to honestly cultivate connections across social classes and backgrounds. After Rowan’s marriage to Lord Julian, Maurice challenged her to take her political opinions outside her home and into society. Consequently, she became an activist for women’s suffrage.
Ten years into this activism, Maurice challenged Rowan to consider social inequities beyond her own class and took her to the poverty of London’s East End.
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Lady Rowan was stunned by the conditions and equally surprised to find that Maurice still worked as a doctor in these poor communities where he was known and beloved. Rowan reflects on her day, realizing, “Maurice is right, I can do more” (72). On that same evening in 1910, a 13-year-old Maisie Dobbs was quietly weeping over the loss of her mother. Maisie’s father, Frankie, was grieving both the loss of his wife and the need for his daughter to find work to help with the family finances.
By Jacqueline Winspear