This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing
November 2020 Indie Next List
— Scott Lange, The Bookman, Grand Haven, MI
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“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.
Praise For This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing…
Fall 2021 ABA Indie Next Reading Group Selection
An IndieNext Selection for November 2020
A LibraryReads Selection for November 2020
Praise for This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing
“The author of the Maisie Dobbs series of cozy British mysteries picked hops as a young girl to help support her family, which struggled to subsist in the hardscrabble landscape of rural Kent. This childhood memoir, though frank in its details of postwar privation, is at heart a love story—her parents’ love for each other, and hers for them and the meaningful life they gave her.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“The best-selling author of the Maisie Dobbs mystery series pulls back the curtain on her hardscrabble postwar childhood in rural Kent, England, in which bitter poverty was offset by good cheer and family love.”
—The New York Times
“I fell in love with Jackie Winspear almost at once, right there on Page 24 of her engaging, amusing and moving memoir of growing up in the post-World War II English countryside . . . You don’t have to be a boomer or have had a mirror experience to get pulled into the world Winspear re-creates. It’s a world both nostalgic and soberly realistic, full of crystalline descriptions of the Kentish countryside and the now long-gone hop gardens that once flourished there.”
—The Washington Post
“The book is heartfelt and humorous, poignant and frank, and — as with the Maisie Dobbs books — beautifully written.”
“A lovely memoir whether you are a fan of Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs mysteries or not. This is her personal account of her English childhood, including the harrowing stories and trauma of the second world war on her grandparents and parents, and her young life living on farms around Kent.”
“Evocative . . . Walking with her through this complex thicket of rumination and reminiscence offers readers a chance to understand more about the writing process, while revealing details of a family heritage well worth recording.”
“As we have seen in her Maisie Dobbs series, Winspear's talent as a writer shines in her attention to detail and expert depictions of the emotional impact of war.”
“Has there been another title this fitting to the moment released this year? I doubt it . . . An extraordinary story of a childhood that spanned huge changes in society and a family grappling with the world lurching ahead. It was the perfect read for this year.”
—The Secret Library Podcast
“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, New York Times bestselling author of Almost Everything: Notes on Hope
“Jacqueline Winspear's memoir takes the reader through the early and adolescent years of the author's life as well as the history of her parents' young marriage in a fashion that is simultaneously endearing, touching, amusing, heartfelt, and astonishing . . . It's a love letter and a beautiful work of gratitude toward the people and the place that made the author what and who she is.”
—Elizabeth George, New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Lynley novels
“A beautifully rendered, elegant work of literary architecture joining the present to the past. Jacqueline Winspear's memoir of an English country childhood is also an homage to the remarkable parents whose choices and outlooks shaped her. Their stories of hardship and gratitude became hers, and hers became this unforgettable book.”
—Hope Edelman, New York Times bestselling author of Motherless Daughters and The Aftergrief
“This is a memoir both evocative and unflinching. Without a trace of self-pity, Jacqueline Winspear portrays a childhood of rural poverty overcome by hard manual labor, lifelong love amid emotional wounds, and a profound understanding of how 'the gift of place' creates meaning . . . An illuminating portrait of a time and place that is as optimistic as it is deeply moving.”
—Sally Bedell Smith, author of Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life
“[Winspear's] words are hopeful and bright, and imbued with a resilience that will resonate with readers . . . The book will appeal well beyond Winspear’s fan base as a literary memoir deeply linked to history and as a meditation on place and family.”
—Library Journal, Starred Review
“[Winspear] draws distinctive portraits of postwar England, altogether different from the U.S., where she has since settled, and her unsettling struggles within the rigid British class system. An engaging childhood memoir and a deeply affectionate tribute to the author’s parents.”
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“Though she was born in 1955, [Winspear] provides a visceral portrait of London during WWII and the hardships and cultural changes that shaped England in the decades that followed . . . [An] elegantly executed memoir.”
Praise for Maisie Dobbs
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Agatha Award Winner for Best First Novel
Macavity Award Winner for Best First Novel
Alex Award Winner
“Compelling . . . powerful. [Maisie Dobbs] testifies to the enduring allure of the traditional mystery . . . even though I knew what was coming this second time 'round, its final scene is still a punch in the gut.”
—Maureen Corrigan for NPR’s Fresh Air
"[A] deft debut novel . . . Romantic readers sensing a story-within-a-story won't be disappointed. But first they must be prepared to be astonished at the sensitivity and wisdom with which Maisie resolves her first professional assignment."
—The New York Times
"The reader familiar with Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency . . . might think of Maisie Dobbs as its British counterpart . . . [Winspear] has created a winning character about whom readers will want to read more."
"[Maisie Dobbs] catches the sorrow of a lost generation in the character of one exceptional woman."
"One of the best and most influential crime novels of the young century."
—Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
“A fine new sleuth for the twenty-first century. Simultaneously self-reliant and vulnerable, Maisie isn't a character I'll easily forget.”
—Elizabeth George, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of the Inspector Lynley series
“The book is much more than a cosy mystery—it is also about women's growing emancipation and the profound changes to society after the First World War.”
—Mail on Sunday
“A delightful mix of mystery, war story and romance set in WWI–era England . . . A refreshing heroine, appealing secondary characters and an absorbing plot [make Winspear a] writer to watch.”
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“A poignant and compelling story . . . [Winspear handles] human drama with compassionate sensitivity while skillfully avoiding cloying sentimentality. At the end, the reader is left yearning for more. Highly recommended.”
—Library Journal, Starred Review
Soho Press, 9781641292696, 312pp.
Publication Date: November 10, 2020
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. In your opinion, how much of this memoir is Winspear’s own story, and how much is it her parents’? Is she offering anecdotes from her parents’ lives in order to contextualize her own life story, or because they have become her own life story—or both?
2. On memoir, Winspear says, “we don’t just look back at an event in our past; we are remembering the memory of what happened.” What do you think she means by that? Is that how you would describe memoir? How are memory, memoir, and history similar or different?
3. In several episodes from her childhood, Winspear describes being profoundly affected by things she learned about women who lived in her neighborhood; in several cases, she recollects that their stories pointed her toward novels she would later write. Do you have personal memories like this from your childhood—people who you might not have known well, but whom you still think about decades later because of something they said or did, or who affected the way you think or live your life?
4. The title of the book comes from Winspear’s father’s oft-repeated saying during hard times, “this time next year we’ll be laughing.” Do you relate to that phrase? Were there particular examples of perseverance during hard times in the book resonated with you? Do you or does someone in your family have a maxim that you look to for reassurance?
5. The theme of war-era PTSD runs through the personal stories of both sides of Jacqueline Winspear’s family, and she discusses the scientifically proven theory that traumas can be hereditary. Is her family story a very British one? Or are there comparable or analogous American stories about the “Greatest Generation” or the generation born between the two World Wars?