09 May 2011

Review: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs did something few women in the early 20th century were ever able to do. She rose from tradesman's daughter to Cambridge student to self-employed businesswoman. Thanks to pluck, determination, and smarts mixed with a bit of luck and years of hard work, Maisie is ready to rent an office in London and set up her practice as a professional investigator.

For her first solo case, Maisie agrees to help a man who is sure his wife has been unfaithful to him. Despite all her careful planning, Maisie is unprepared for the long-reaching effects this case will have on her own life, dredging up memories of her field nursing days in war-torn France and her own set of might-have-beens.

In Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Winspear introduces readers to one of the most endearing heroines to star in a cozy mystery series and sets the stage for more adventures to come. The mystery itself is less important in this first novel than is getting to know Maisie: how she came to be an investigator, the people who helped her along the way, her personality, and her own life experiences.

In 1929, the Great War is long over but not everyone has found peace: soldiers, medics, and other military personnel had few resources for dealing with shell-shock, disfigurement, and the loss of loved ones. Maisie and her acquaintances are not immune, and the shadow of the war permeates the novel. But Maisie is a practical young lady, and although she hasn't faced all of her demons, she is forward looking and resourceful and tries to stay positive.

Winspear has created a set of characters that will find a place in your heart, and you'll be reaching for the second Maisie Dobbs novel almost immediately. Maisie Dobbs will appeal to readers who like cozy mysteries, great characters, England between the wars, and strong female protagonists.

I listened to the unabridged audiobook (BBC America; 10 hr) read by Rita Barrington who did a great job keeping my attention and bringing the proper British flair to the novel. Barrington's pacing and subtle characterizations add to the enjoyment of the novel. A recommended audio.

Give it to me quickly: Travel to 1920s London to meet Maisie Dobbs, a resourceful, spunky, no-nonsense private investigator who solves her first professional case and comes to terms with her wartime experiences; moving yet fun and completely engaging.

Maisie Dobbs won multiple awards, including the Agatha Award for Best First Novel in 2003. For more on Jacqueline Winspear, visit her website.

Maisie Dobbs at Powell's
Maisie Dobbs at Book Depository
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Published by Soho Press, 2003 / Penguin, 2004
ISBN-13: 9780142004333
YTD: 44
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Rating: B+
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Pam (@iwriteinbooks) 5/9/11, 7:10 AM  

Oh, hooray! I love this series. I've exhausted my resources on it, just now, and I'm missing it terribly. I need more Maisie. Glad you got to this one. :O)

The Book Phantom 5/9/11, 7:42 AM  

Ooh - I'm not really a mystery fan, but this character sounds interesting. I love this period in history, too. Onto the reading list it goes! Thanks.

April (BooksandWine) 5/9/11, 8:37 AM  

I'm always looking for recommended audios, since I never know what to do with my audible credits, so YAY. Glad Maisie Dobbs is awesome in audio form, I'll have to blow one of my audible credits on Maisie.

Sheila (Bookjourney) 5/9/11, 8:44 AM  

I have yet to try Massie Dobb's - but hope to one of these days!

Zibilee 5/9/11, 9:05 AM  

I read this book a few months ago, and liked it a lot. Though I did like the sections that related Maisie's life a lot more then the mystery, this was a book that had me flipping the pages. I would love to read more of this series.

Barbara 5/9/11, 9:27 AM  

I have Winspear's Messenger of Truth in my goodie box waiting to be read. I hope it won't matter to read it out of order.

Julie P. 5/9/11, 9:47 AM  

Yay! You enjoyed it! I am so glad that you got this book "read" before BEA! Way to go with a challenge! ;)

Martha@Hey, I want to read that 5/9/11, 10:07 AM  

I'm so glad you started this series. It just keeps getting better and better. Can't wait to hear what you think of the rest.

Nan 5/9/11, 10:49 AM  

I love this character, and I love the series. It feels so real to me, and JW is excellent at describing the time period.

Kit Aerie-el 5/9/11, 1:25 PM  

Your reviews are always spot-on, and this book sounds like another great read. So I'm taking Maisie with me for my upcoming travel. Thanks!

Beth(bookaholicmom) 5/9/11, 1:33 PM  

I have decided to check out Maisie after reading all the great reviews about her but sadly there is quite a long list for her at the library. I'm hoping to read about Maisie at some point. I'm even more anxious after reading your great review.

Unknown 5/9/11, 1:53 PM  

I have a copy of this on my shelf. You are making me wish that I had the audio, but I guess that reading it is a good experience too. I do love mysteries like this from time to time. Thanks for reminding me about it.

caite 5/9/11, 2:03 PM  

I really liked this book. sadly, I have not found time to read any more in the series yet, but I look forward to it.

bermudaonion 5/9/11, 2:41 PM  

Everyone seems to love this series! I've got to get going with it.

Sandy Nawrot 5/9/11, 7:52 PM  

I feel left out. I may have to see if my library has jumped on the audio bandwagon with these...

Nise' 5/9/11, 8:44 PM  

My mom loves this series. I have every intention of getting to it.

Marg 5/9/11, 11:37 PM  

I can not even be able to think of how many times I have said this about this series, but I really, really need to start reading these books!

SiS 5/10/11, 9:38 AM  

Glad you found Maisie!! I love this series. And, as others have said, some of the latter books are the strongest...

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 5/10/11, 10:42 AM  

I just love the character of Maisie Dobbs, and all the history (and social history) I'm learning through Jacqueline Winspear's series.

I listened to the BBC audio of BIRDS OF A FEATHER (the 2nd Maisie Dobbs). Kim Hicks was the narrator for that one; I enjoyed her reading, I wonder how you'll compare the two.

SuziQoregon 5/10/11, 5:50 PM  

I'm so glad you enjoyed meeting Maisie!! I have felt that this series just gets better and better with each book. I enjoy the setting and the way she tells the story of England between the wars. The historical stuff is just as interesting to me if not more than the 'mystery' in each of the books.

Heather 5/10/11, 6:22 PM  

I have this on my ipod and expect to start listening to it by the end of the week.

Cathy 5/11/11, 1:14 PM  

So glad you enjoyed this book!

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