Friday, January 14, 2011

book review: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

The backstory: I've been intending to read Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs (and the rest of the series) since it began in 2003. Thanks to Book Club Girl's "I'm Mad for Maisie!" Read-along, I finally took the plunge, and boy am I glad I did! You can join in on the discussion questions for this novel on her blog today.

The basics: Maisie Dobbs is a single woman in London after World War I who sets up her own private investigation business.

My thoughts: First novels in new mystery series often involve a very personal mystery story. Sometimes these personal escapades are more successful than others, but Jacqueline Winspear takes a unique spin on it. The novel begins in Maisie's present day. She receives her first client, a man concerned his wife is cheating. As Maisie begins to investigate, she discovers a deeper mystery. Then the book jumps back in time to Maisie's teens. I wasn't expecting the jump, but I loved it. I'm a huge fan of stories about life's journeys, and Maisie's is fascinating. I enjoyed her back story as much as the compelling mystery she sought to solve.

I enjoyed this novel immensely, and I appreciated the non-linear telling. Maisie is a fascinating character I rooted for in all of her endeavors. I was enchanted with both time periods explored in the book, and I read it in less than a day. I'm looking forward to Birds of a Feather, the second Maisie Dobbs mystery, which I will review on January 31st.

The verdict: Maisie Dobbs is an endearing historical mystery sure to appeal to fans of both mysteries and historical fiction.

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)

Length: 320 pages
Publication date: July 1, 2003
Source: my local public library

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  1. I don't usually read mysteries, but I do like historical fiction and have been told that Winspear's mysteries are "cozy," which I think I can handle! It sounds, too, like there's more to these books than the mystery. Thanks for the lovely review -- I'll be sure to keep Maisie Dobbs in mind.

  2. I read this book quite awhile ago, and while I loved the Maisie's present day story, I found the mystery elements didn't surprise me as much as I thought they could have. I think that is partially because I am not really a mystery reader per se and I tend to overthink things when reading these types of books. Maybe it is just my competitive nature coming out, and I am trying to solve the mystery before the protagonist does. Though It wasn't a perfect read for me, I did end up enjoying it, and I am glad you did too!

  3. Maisie Dobbs is one of the very best fictional characters ever written. As good as the first book is, the series just gets better!
    Jacqueline Winspear is a wonderful author and a great speaker. If you have the chance, go to one of her signings. She's very engaging and tells fascinating stories!

    Erin~ I think you were misled. The Maisie Dobbs series can't be categorized as "cozy". They are more about the effects of WWI on Great Britain and its people. The mysteries are wonderfully crafted and very interesting but, IMO... not "cozy" but, most definitely, worth reading! I LOVE them!!

  4. Oh wow, this does sound like a series I could really get into!

  5. I'm so glad you joined the read-along, I am loving Maisie too! Especially while watching Downton Abbey, I love being able to *see* the time period I'm reading about.

  6. I'm looking forward to reading this one - I won this in a giveaway and it's sitting on my nightstand just waiting for me!


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!