Title: Messenger of Truth (Maisie Dobbs, #4)
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
“With a true masterpiece, there are no words required. Discourse is rendered redundant. That’s why the work of a master transcends all notions of education, of class. It rises above the onlooker’s understanding of what is considered good or bad, or right or wrong in the world of art. With the artist who has achieved mastery, skill, experience and knowledge are transparent, leaving only the message for all to see.”
I went into Messenger of Truth with some hesitation. The only reason for me starting it was due to a “Mystery Book Discussion” at my local library. Despite my initial reaction, I actually learned to enjoy the idea of art, as well as, this novel. The idea of art telling a story similarly to writing never before seemed possible to me. However, how the author describes Nick’s artwork makes me want to delve into the six-piece masterpiece of the deceased artist.
As a “messenger of truth”, Nick Bassington-Hope creates art that is extremely realistic and literal. Being one who served our country, Nick both experienced and saw many traumatic events of the reality of war, which later served in his ability to draw propaganda for the war. But, not only did he experience the sad truth of war, but also the reality of how people back home were living: sick, poor, and struggling to survive.
I can dance with life again.
The above phrase was written on one of Nick’s American sketches and is a recurrent image in Messenger of Truth. This can also be related to Maisie’s growth throughout the book. At the beginning of the novel, we find Maisie struggling with figuring out if she made the right choice in leaving her comfortable lifestyle and moving to her own place and finding her true identity, like a dancer not being confident at the start of a dance. As the story progresses and Maisie sees how the Bassington-Hopes, mainly Nick and Georgina, have come to pave their own paths in life despite “going against the grain”, she starts to believe that it may be possible for her to do the same, gaining the confidence she needs and taking more risks. In discovering the truth behind Nick’s death, we discover the true meanings behind Nick’s paintings: the blood and horror of war, the striking poverty and disease residing all around. Nick believed it was duty, through his paintings, to depict the wretched reality of the status of the world as it was; the truth. People don’t want to always see the truth for what it is, but, rather, the “better”, “more appealing” version. By solving the case of Nick’s death and realizing these truths, Maisie has now built the confidence she needs to pave her own path in life, bowing at the end of a marvelous performance, the crowd roaring.
DECEMBER 2017 MYSTERY BOOK DISCUSSION