Book Review: Maisie Dobbs
Synopsis: Maisie Dobbs, Psychologist and Investigator, began her working life at the age of thirteen as a servant in a Belgravia mansion, only to be discovered reading in the library by her employer, Lady Rowan Compton. Fearing dismissal, Maisie is shocked when she discovers that her thirst for education is to be supported by Lady Rowan and a family friend, Dr. Maurice Blanche. But The Great War intervenes in Maisie’s plans, and soon after commencement of her studies at Girton College, Cambridge, Maisie enlists for nursing service overseas. Years later, in 1929, having apprenticed to the renowned Maurice Blanche, a man revered for his work with Scotland Yard, Maisie sets up her own business. Her first assignment, a seemingly tedious inquiry involving a case of suspected infidelity, takes her not only on the trail of a killer, but back to the war she had tried so hard to forget.
My review: 4 stars.
As always, I’m late to the game when it comes to popular fiction series, so when I had the opportunity to read Maisie Dobbs, I took it. It’s a title on many to-read lists for fans of historical fiction, as it was first published in 2003. Author Jacqueline Winspear is about to publish her 13th (!) book in the series. And I can see why– the characters are endearing, Maisie Dobbs is a fascinating woman, and Winspear skillfully blends suspense/detective work with a little bit of romance and great story lines.
Maisie Dobbs takes place after World War I, and the first book in the series establishes her life story and experiences that brought her to her role as a private investigator who has great instincts and the ability to connect with people/clients in meaningful ways. The story starts in 1929, then shifts back to her younger years and then the War, before then shifting back to 1929 present day to wrap up the novel. This sort of structure worked for me, as it kept me reading through the first section as I wanted to figure out more about her back story.
This novel’s great mystery involves a place called The Retreat that is essentially a rest home for World War I veterans who had major injuries, as well as the unseen injuries of “shell shock,” which we now call PTSD. One of the nights I was reading the book, Q was watching the movie The Hurt Locker on TV, and it was an interesting comparison of the similar emotional struggles and trauma of the soldiers written about in Maisie Dobbs and those in modern-day Iraq.
Serious subject matter aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will definitely be adding the 12 other titles to my reading list. You can check out more of them here and learn more about Jacqueline Winspear’s other titles on her website.
As part of the TLC Book Tour of this book, I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.