A 2021 Edgar Award Nominee for Best Critical/Biographical
“Jacqueline Winspear has created a memoir of her English childhood that is every bit as engaging as her Maisie Dobbs novels, just as rich in character and detail, history and humanity. Her writing is lovely, elegant and welcoming.”—Anne Lamott
The New York Times bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs series offers a deeply personal memoir of her family’s resilience in the face of war and privation.
After sixteen novels, Jacqueline Winspear has taken the bold step of turning to memoir, revealing the hardships and joys of her family history. Both shockingly frank and deftly restrained, her story tackles the difficult, poignant, and fascinating family accounts of her paternal grandfather’s shellshock; her mother’s evacuation from London during the Blitz; her soft-spoken animal-loving father’s torturous assignment to an explosives team during WWII; her parents’ years living with Romany Gypsies; and Winspear’s own childhood picking hops and fruit on farms in rural Kent, capturing her ties to the land and her dream of being a writer at its very inception.
An eye-opening and heartfelt portrayal of a post-War England we rarely see, This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing chronicles a childhood in the English countryside, of working class indomitability and family secrets, of artistic inspiration and the price of memory.
Winspear, the Agatha Award winning author of the Maisie Dobbs mystery series, uses her talent as a consummate teller of tales to share family stories, some of which she later discovered were greatly exaggerated or untrue, in this lovely memoir. Though she was born in 1955, she provides a visceral portrait of London during WWII and the hardships and cultural changes that shaped England in the decades that followed. She brings to life the sights and fragrances of the Kentish hop fields where her parents did seasonal work, and she unfolds the slow route she took to becoming a writer, starting in her 40s when she wrote her first novel inspired by family war stories. Along the way, she illustrates the kindness of Romany travelers, and devotes a chapter entitled "A Gypsy Life" that recounts how her parents, before they had children, lived in a caravan alongside some Romany families and became friendly with them. At one point, Winspear describes how betrayed she felt when she discovered that her mother lied to her by making her uncle, her mother's beloved brother, the hero of many of the mother's wartime stories when in fact some other, more distant relative was the hero. Readers of the Maisie Dobbs series will take particular pleasure in spotting the origins of places, characters, and even plotlines. The author's fans and lovers of recent English history will be delighted with this elegantly executed memoir.
While I was sad Jacqueline Winspear did not do another Maisie Dobbs novel, I have really loved this book. It brings into perspective many of her stories. Families are complex and she did not shy away from the difficult experiences. Her style of writing is easily readable and even though I did not grow up in England, I can relate to her life. Very well done!