Maisie Dobbs Isn T Just Any Young Housemaid Through Her Own Natural Intelligence And The Patronage Of Her Benevolent Employers She Works Her Way Into College At Cambridge When World War I Breaks Out, Maisie Goes To The Front As A Nurse It Is There That She Learns That Coincidences Are Meaningful And The Truth Elusive After The War, Maisie Sets Up On Her Own As A Private Investigator But Her Very First Assignment, Seemingly An Ordinary Infidelity Case, Soon Reveals A Much Deeper, Darker Web Of Secrets, Which Will Force Maisie To Revisit The Horrors Of The Great War And The Love She Left Behind A neighbor recommended Jacqueline Winspear s Maisie Dobbs as one of the best books she s read The book cover boasts quotes from The New York Times Be prepared to be astonished , NPR A quirky literary creation , and Alexander McCall Smith A real gift Naturally, I had high expectations.Maisie Dobbs is a detective and self proclaimed psychologist in post WWI London, and the novel splits its time between a case and detailing Maisie s background Only half the book is a mystery as Maisie investigates The Retreat where injured soldiers escape the stares of society.In the other half, Winspear recounts Maisie s past She moves from being a greengrocer s daughter to an aristocrat s prot g to a WWI nurse to a private investigator Maisie Dobbs is almost too good to be true brilliant and dedicated, moving seamlessly between all ranks in society.The book is well written, but the split nature of its format backfires Maisie is too perfect to be an appealing heroine although a disturbing scene at the end of the book belies Maisie s perfection And Winspear does not fully develop the mystery, so its climax borders on the ridiculous.Winspear has written several books in the Maisie Dobbs series Though I haven t read them, they are apparently consistent with the genre and concentrate on mysteries and less on Maisie s history I will have to invest in the second novel before dismissing the series completely. I picked up Maisie Dobbs from the library upon the rec of my GR friend Carol, and have to say that this initial entry marks what may prove to be one of the cleverest mystery series since Dorothy Gilman brought the retired and intrepid Mrs Pollifax to life back in the 1960s For on Mrs Pollifax, see The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax Don t go into reading Maisie Dobbs with any preconceived ideas about what you ll find there Yes, it s a mystery somewhat Yes, it s a historical novel somewhat Yes, it s a exploration of psychological healing somewhat In fact, Maisie Dobbs is one of those books that can t really be pegged and shelved in it s own confined area The book starts in 1929, when Maisie sets up her detective practice and receives her first solo case A man wants Maisie to find out if his wife is having an affair After solving that, the book abruptly switches gears and goes back 19 years, to 1910, when young Maisie is just a lower class girl living with her widower, costermonger father While Maisie is decidedly low class in the ridged class structure of pre War Britian, she is anything but low class in her intellect Her bankrupt father sends her into service at the home of a wealthy and sympathetic upper crust family From here, we learn Maisie s backstory essentially, how she came to be Maisie Dobbs, Detective This portion takes up quite a bit of this 290 page book, so that by the time it s over, we re back to 1929 and Maisie s intuition leads her on an offshoot of her initial case, and the resolution of some feelings Maisie has been carrying around for quite a long time.The writing is spare and somewhat simple in places, which initially put me off However, once I got into its rhythm, I was hooked I loved the setting pre and post WWI England , and enjoyed Maisie s backstory with all it s information about being in service The ending was probably my favorite of all, but I won t tellI eagerly await my next installment of Maisie Dobbs to see if Winspear can keep up the novelty of her first book in the series.And oh yeah, the covers on the Penguin editions ROCK I want them as posters, they are so evocative of the era Excellent Well This was a waste of time I don t think there was an aspect of this book I did not hate Starting from the holier than thou main character, to the non existent mystery, to the amazing not resolution of the non mystery, to the abrupt hundred pages worth of tedious flashback in the middle of the mystery everything bothered me So Maisie Dobbs is a private eye She was a housemaid once, but it turned out that she was one of nature s rare prodigies, reading Latin by candlelight Her masters then decide that she ought to be tutored, along with all her work as parlormaid Enter Master Yoda from stage left, I mean, Maurice Blanche He fills her mind with such gems asRush into conclusions not In the stillness, wait awhile , which pop into her mind opportunely in present day when she s talking to clients Anyhow On to the mystery A ladies infidelity is suspected by her husband, the lady is blameless, and Maisie spends some time giving him shit for suspecting his wife However it leads Maisie onto a suitably creepy post war hidey hole for army men affected by the war called The Retreat Nothing happens Then, there s someone else talking about the Retreat too, and Maisie decides to investigate Cut Flashback into Maisie s early life Some tedious accounts of class differences Maisie in college Maisie as a nurse in WW I France Maisie with Simon, a brilliant and talented young doctor who worships the ground she walks on Cut Back Where were we There s hardly a set up for a mystery in this book The half hearted attempt is cut abruptly so we have pages of Maisie backstory, for no discernable reason By the time the story comes back to the current time, I lost any inclination of knowing what would happen I had to finish it though Maisie herself I thought had a border line God complex She instructs her first client to make her a commitment, and to his marriage She calls herself responsible for the safety of all parties, but she makes friends with and invites confidences even after the husband has been sent away happy from her emotionally susceptible mark, by lying about who she is But let s not call this unprofessional She has dodgy methods of problem solving She may regurgitate the Maurice Blanche homilies to herself, but she the chill down her spine makes her jump into conclusions pretty much from the start She is never wrong though, so I suppose that doesn t matter either As for her personal life, she behaves despicably view spoiler Simon s alive, but unaware of his surroundings because of his war wounds I think It s been twelve years since this happened, and heroine has not bothered to visit him Her explanation how scared she was about not remembering them as they were She s a flake, true enough, but what s bad about this situation is a how happy Simon s mother is that madam finally condescended to visit the man she supposedly loved, b how Maisie has been so superior all through the book, with trite sayings such as I know about wounds, I know about disfigurement when she s done jack squat, and c zero insight into any thoughts Maisie might have had about Simon because the author thought that this needed to be a secret so there would be a big reveal shock dramatic music at the end hide spoiler PERFECT AS GUNS OF AUGUSTThe first chapter of this book is perfect, just as the first paragraph of Barbara Tuchman s The Guns of August is considered by some the finest in the English language CAME IN A DAYDREAMThe rest of Maisie Dobbs is magical too Unlike anything I had ever read, and I was already a veteran of historical fiction reads when I opened the first pages, which came to the author in a daydream when she was sitting at a stoplight in a storm in California.NONPAREILThe unique characterization of Maisie, Winspear s gorgeous writing and the emotional access to WWI through fiction make this a cherished read I ve read the entire series, yet nothing will match the wonder of meeting Maisie for the first time.MERCI Thank you, Jacqueline Winspear, for writing that daydream down This is a story about a cute, clever, and plucky young woman named Maisie Dobbs Maisie is setting up her own private investigation practice in London The year is 1929, and everyone we meet is still coping with the effects of the world war, including Maisie.Maisie has a cute and charming way of talking with people and getting them to share their stories Her first client is a man who thinks his wife is cheating on him Maisie follows the woman, befriends her and learns her sad tale about a loved one who was wounded in the war Later, the man died of suspicious circumstances, so Maisie investigates a farm called The Retreat, using her charm and wits to get an inside look.The middle section of the book is a flashback to how Maisie got to be so plucky and sweet and charming Her mother died at a young age, and Maisie had to go into service to help her father pay the bills Luckily, Maisie s master was a kind woman who observed the girl s cleverness, and encouraged her to study and take lessons from a tutor Eventually, Maisie earned the chance to go to college, although the war intervened in the end, Maisie shares her own sad story of what happened to her during the war.Did I mention that Maisie is cute and charming and sweet and plucky and charming A few friends recommended this book to me, knowing how much I enjoy charming British novels But an odd thing happened I thought this novel was TOO charming and precious Maisie was TOO cute and plucky The story was TOO predictable and bittersweet I felt like the author was hitting me over the head with a pile of those big books that Maisie liked to study in order to emphasize how cute and plucky she was This book is the first in a series about Maisie, and I m not sure if I will read any I m glad I finally checked out this one to see what the fuss was about, but my curiosity has been satisfied. I love this book I listened to the audiobook It s beautifully done I am going right into book 2 I m already attached to the characters. A beautifully written story of a young girl s rise from household servant to her own successful career as a private investigator during WWI era England This novel is so much than just an historical mystery with a clever female sleuth Winspear creates Maisie s story of her first professional case in such a way that with flashbacks we understand the physical and psychological scars of those who served during wartimethe sacrifices of the body, mind and heart.which has made Maisie develop a sense of purpose in life that goes beyond just solving mysteries She has empathy for those who suffer or are in need, and this first installment of Maisie Dobbs will reveal the path that has brought her from servant to beginning her own professional business A great beginning to a series that I can t wait to continue.4.5 stars Is there anything controversial at Goodreads than star rating I think not and yes, I think it s controversial than porn or V blogs People have opinions on whether or not one should star books that weren t finished, whether one can star unread books by authors they don t like or even do like and then there are those that will actually argue a reviewer s rating based on the reviewer s interpretation, the infamous you read it wrong offense.Here I am, deciding to stretch my reading boundaries a little by giving Miss Maisie Dobbs a try I enjoy mysteries, I love a good female lead and hey I m a nurse, so why not Well, because I am generally bored by historical fiction But you know stretch, right I discovered Maisie Dobbs was both better and worse than I expected Better, because I generally enjoyed it until the worse part a deep immersion into Maisie s past from ages thirteen to twenty ish.Remember how I mentioned recently that there is a shortage of niceness Not in Maisie s world Maisie is Little Women, Nancy Drew and the intuition of Claire DeWitt wrapped up into one self assured bottle of plucky, industrious kindness Maisie has a benefactor who has encouraged her to set up a little detective shop, and so she rents a room and makes friends with Billy, veteran and odd jobsman A man makes an appointment to ask M Dobbs to discover if his wife is cheating on him, and much like Claire DeWitt, Maisie tells him that she may not like the answers she finds and so he must trust her to do what s right Maise gets close to the wife, discovers the mystery of her visiting the grave of a recently deceased veteran, and uses her skills to accidentally encounter the wife and forge a connection She discovers the mystery of the veterans home for the disfigured, coincidentally the same place her benefactor s son is planning to retreat to Before too much progress is made, we journey back to Maisie s youth when she first encountered her benefactor.So here s the deal I actually liked the absolutely tropey Maisie intelligent, book smart, industrious, honest, and attractive who, much like Nancy Drew, is practically perfect as well as the apple of her daddy s eye I was vaguely interested in the obvious non mystery, a home for disfigured veterans where men are mysteriously dying The writing is decent, with solid character building But the transition to the past was awkward and continued for far, far too long to maintain any sense of suspense perhaps helping the reader forget the solution and basically had little to do with anything except to build character background and show Maisie s own role in the war I almost quit I loaned the book to my mom in the meantime, until self flagellation led me to finishing It remained rather boring, in an insipid, historically romantic kind of way, using one of my absolute, very least favorite excuses for a criminal behavior and laughable denouement and not in a good way There was a bonus character twist that really made little to no sense.On my personal scale of enjoyment, it was a solid meh I m just not interested in historical fiction as a rule, so you have to be an ah maz ing writer for me to enjoy it hello, Connie Willis In my world, it s about two stars for enjoyment, veering uncomfortably close to a Did Not Finish Yet the writing skill if not plotting is actually much higher On the niceness scale, it s a solid five, and on the Mom s Scale, it was good enough to warrant checking out the next book from the library I might even skim the next one, to see if Winspear learned some plotting So there you go unrated because of niceness. This book just didn t work for me Maisie Dobbs was mostly annoying and a very boring character and the story was very bland.I liked the ending, but probably not enough to want to read books about Miss Dobbs unless anyone can convince me that they will get better.
- 309 pages
- Maisie Dobbs
- Jacqueline Winspear
- 20 April 2017 Jacqueline Winspear