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Maisie Dobbs [Paperback]

Jacqueline Winspear
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 24 2004 Maisie Dobbs Mysteries

Hailed by NPR’s Fresh Air as part Testament of Youth, part Dorothy Sayers, and part Upstairs, Downstairs, this astonishing debut has already won fans from coast to coast and is poised to add Maisie Dobbs to the ranks of literature’s favorite sleuths.

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.

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Maisie Dobbs + Birds of a Feather + Pardonable Lies: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
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Product Description

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Maisie is 14 when her mother dies, and she must go into service to help her father make ends meet. Her prodigious intellect and the fact that she is sneaking into the manor library at night to read Hume, Kierkegaard, and Jung alert Lady Rowan to the fact that she has an unusual maid. She arranges for Maisie to be tutored, and the girl ultimately qualifies for Cambridge. She goes for a year, only to be drawn by the need for nurses during the Great War. After serving a grueling few years in France and falling in love with a young doctor, Maisie puts up a shingle in 1929 as a private investigator. She is a perceptive observer of human nature, works well with all classes, and understands the motivations and demons prevalent in postwar England. Teens will be drawn in by her first big case, seemingly a simple one of infidelity, but leading to a complex examination of an almost cultlike situation. The impact of the war on the country is vividly conveyed. A strong protagonist and a lively sense of time and place carry readers along, and the details lead to further thought and understanding about the futility and horror of war, as well as a desire to hear more of Maisie. This is the beginning of a series, and a propitious one at that.
Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"[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, who intends to write a series featuring Maisie Dobbs, has created a winning character about whom readers will want to read more." —The Associated Press

"[Maisie Dobbs] catches the sorrow of a lost generation in the character of one exceptional woman." —The Chicago Tribune

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Even if she hadn't been the last person to walk through the turnstile at Warren Street tube station, Jack Barker would have noticed the tall, slender woman in the navy blue, thigh-length jacket with a matching pleated skirt short enough to reveal a well-turned ankle. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The eponymous character is an anomaly of the time (housemaid made good so to speak) who, with the help of the kindly bourgeoisie, transcends her humble birth to become a psychologist-detective with experience as a nurse in WWI, a tragic lost love, schooling at Cambridge/Girton (before women were able to attain degrees) and so on. There's a mystery here, too, but mostly the story is Maisie's and she's terrific.
The prose is redolent of its place and time and, even though Maisie may be a revisionist, she's most refreshingly wonderful if too pure and serious. Can't wait for the next Maisie mystery.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good lead, great minor characters! July 2 2004
MAISIE DOBBS is written in three parts. In the first part, Maisie is setting up shop as a private investigator. A man hires Maisie Dobbs to follow his wife, who he thinks is cheating on him. She follows this woman to a graveyard where she stands over the grave of a man named Victor, just Victor. Maisie finds out from the caretaker that this man was a war veteran whose face had been hideously defiled. There are other graves in the graveyard without a surname and Maisie is suspicious.
The second part is flashback. We see Maisie rise from a maid, to a student at Cambridge, then a WWI nurse. We see her getting up at three in the morning to read the books in her employer's library. When she is discovered, rather than fire her, her employer takes her under her wing to assure her an education.
In the third section we return to Maisie's investigation of a suspicious farm called The Refuge which had been formed as a haven for WWI veterans who had been deformed in battle.
Although sometimes over-earnest with a plot line that's a bit too convenient, Maisie Dobbs is a worthwhile read. The likeable lead, the setting, and the theme of soldiers with little to live for kept me turning the pages with relish. Jacqueline Winspear is also smart enough to keep you guessing about what happened to Maisie's doctor lover right up until the end. The book is also peppered with enjoyable minor characters that help round out the personality of our Maisie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deserves the accolades it has received March 5 2004
By Larry
In England, 1929, Maisie Dobbs sets herself up as a private investigator in London. Previously she has worked as a housemaid, as well as a nurse during the Great War in France. The country is still reeling from the shock of the catastrophic loss of almost a whole generation of young men. Her first case involves a man who suspects his wife of infidelity. Investigation of the case leads Maisie to The Retreat, a convalescent home for severely wounded soldiers. However, things at The Retreat are not all that they seem to be.
Jacqueline Winspear manages to lend a strong sense of reality to the historical setting of her debut novel. Interestingly, the construction of the novel is in three parts. The first part introduces us to the heroine and her first investigation. The second part of the book takes us back ten years before the war and Maisie's upward mobility from the position of a housemaid to student to nurse. While part three concerns the matter related to The Retreat. Without a doubt the strength of the book is the vivid realism of the descriptions of the people and places of England between the wars. Not since Charles Todd created his wonderful Rutledge series have we been treated to such an auspicious and original new historical series of this time period. The book's major weakness is the tepid and predictable mystery of The Retreat.
This is a book that will receive much accolades and should be on the short list of all the major awards. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book...hope it's not beginner's luck.... Sept. 26 2003
Over the years, I've read a number of excellent 'first' novels followed by mediocre second, third, etc. novels. Hopefully, Jacqueline Winspear will be able to match her excellent first novel MAISIE DOBBS with the future series of stories she promises. Winspear has created an extremely likeable and interesting heroine and complemented her with a unique supporting cast of characters as well as an intriguing plot or two. With the exception of one relatively implausible scene and an exactitude of description that at times makes her tale somewhat formulaic and distracting (do I really care about the color of the little bows on the client's wife's shoes?), I found this book a good and interesting read.
Maisie Dobbs 'exists' in the late 1920s, but the book contains a good deal of material describing life in the Belle Epoch and the period during and immediately after WWI. The horrendous loss of millions of men in WWI left women like Maisie facing an uncertain life without the prospect of a mate and children. What could one do but become a strong single woman who earned her own keep. .
Winspear deftly explains though her somewhat deconstructed tale how Maisie's young life shaped her latter life-where we find her at the start and ending of the tale. Maisie came to have an understanding of psychology and the occult, and she turned to medicine as a career choice she abandoned after the war. Maisie uses forensics in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes, an understanding of human nature in the Miss Marple sense, and has a penchant for getting into tight situations ala Harriet Vane. She also drives a 'motor' Capt. Hastings would have adored. I like Maisie Dobbs and I hope to see her in print again very soon.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Maisie Dobbs
An excellent book. Looking forward to reading more novels by this author. I would recommend this book to my book club
Published 3 months ago by lindance
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm a Fan
It's another great episode in the life of Maisie Dobbs. I love the series. Each episode is an adventure. Ms. Winspear allows us to know Maisie and her colleagues. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Michal
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Read Audio Book
Once again, Jacqueline Winspear has left my spell bound by the every day activities of Psychologist/Investigator Maisie Dobbs. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Heather Pearson
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 chapters in and I'm HOOKED!
I'm very much engaged in this book and it's only been 2 chapters!!! I love the references to post-war London, the main character Maise is completely loveable and her cases are... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Zoe Middleton
5.0 out of 5 stars British Mystery
Besides the thoroughly enjoyable character of Maisie Dobbs herself, this one had lot more depth to it. Read more
Published on Dec 28 2009 by Ronald E. Dines
2.0 out of 5 stars This needed a lot more work
Set in 1929, in England, Maisie Dobbs is the first book in a series about a former housemaid/World War I nurse who sets up in the post-war years as a psychologist and private... Read more
Published on July 11 2004 by Bucky
1.0 out of 5 stars Stick to being a maid, Maisie!
I bought this book for two reasons: one, I love this genre, and two, I love anything set during WWI. Read more
Published on July 2 2004 by L. Cattafi
2.0 out of 5 stars Eh. Not bad, but not as good as touted, either.
This won an Alex (young people's library award) NOT an Agatha. It was also nominated for an Edgar. Read more
Published on June 29 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo and Hip-Hip!
This book was nominated by the Edgar and Agatha Committees for the simple reason that it's worthy of a nomination. Read more
Published on April 7 2004 by eduardo
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific read!
I was delighted with this author's first effort! I hope she'll write many more books in this series. Read more
Published on March 27 2004 by CML
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