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5.0 out of 5 starsHighly recommend, can't wait to read Book 2
Reviewed in Canada on February 29, 2020
If you're looking for a new Ken Follett or John LeCarré, Maisie Dobbs is not for you. However, if you're looking for a well-written crime caper, Maisie Dobbs is perfect. Set in the late 1920's, book 1 reflects on one of the horrific aftermaths of WW1. Although this in itself is a very serious subject, I call the book a crime caper because the violence is downplayed, it's not a true thriller and there is no sex. The protagonist, Maisie Dobbs, may be a little too bright and intuitive at times and Maurice Blanche (her tutor) is so much bigger than life as to be almost unbelievable, however, Jacqueline Winspear manages to keep our interest with well-developed characters and a good flow to the story. I found her style a little reminiscent of Agatha Christie and her famous Miss Marple.
5.0 out of 5 starsInteresting Cross Between Mystery and Serious War Literature
Reviewed in Canada on April 2, 2019
This is far from a formulaic mystery. The author takes us on a journey from Edwardian life as a "tweenie" (lowest rank of maidservant) through life as a Red Cross nurse in World War I, all on her way to resolving a mystery taking place in 1929 in rural Kent. She makes it all seem more real than the latest newscast. Along the way she weaves in a lot of wisdom about how to deal with the difficulties of life. All of this is done without sacrificing any of the important elements of a good mystery: a suspenseful plot, an engaging heroine and interesting supporting characters, a breath-holding climax, and a satisfactory resolution. I'll be reading more by this author.
This series is well-written, fascinating, and seems to be quite well-researched. This first book begins with Maisie as a British nurse during the first World War in France, but she comes from a unique background which sets her apart on many levels. She began her life as a maid in service but was discovered to be gifted with remarkable intelligence and insight and was mentored in her education by a distinguished friend of the family for whom she worked, eventually attending Girton College at Cambridge. The series gets even better as it continues!
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 interesting.
Maise Dobbs is very similar to Precious Ramotse, a detective in Alexander McCall Smith's series No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. They both use intuition to figure things out.....and I normally don't like mysteries....this one is great!
5.0 out of 5 starsBeautifully written and thoroughly likeable.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 27, 2018
My girlfriend can't put these books down. She hasn't spoken to me in three weeks. I ran out of things to do (well, I ran out of money to do things) so I decided to read the first book. Two days later and I have started book 2. Jacqueline Winspear has created a wonderful, likeable and wholly plausible hero in Maisie Dobbs. The characters, plot and narrative keep the pages turning. In short, these are the rare books that make you want to get home from work early, light the fire, pour a glass of wine and spend all evening reading.
3.0 out of 5 starsA decent book marred by inauthentic spelling .
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 17, 2020
A perfectly good idea for a story spoiled for me by the use of American spelling. Each “woolen ” and “color” jarred and took me out of the world of 1920’s Britain that Ms Winspeare had tried to create. Surely an author brought up in Britain within a British family, using British characters, locations, events, and essentially appealing to the British public, would have the insight to insist on British spelling? I have no problem with American expressions and spelling within an American context and indeed would expect to find these there. It’s about authenticity, verisimilitude and respect for the reader. I doubt I can read another Maisie Dobbs story, set as they are in this strange, mid-Atlantic invention.
1.0 out of 5 starsThe Downton Abbey Murder Mystery
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 21, 2020
I gave this one star because at least it's written in words, not binary. I started to read it, and having given up (which I NEVER do) at chapter 6, I decided to look at the Amazon one-star reviews - every one of which I agree with Especially the one marked "Bunkum" I am simply stunned that people obviously buy more than one of the books in this series. The writing is clunky and dull, the characters are unbelievable (a 15 year old cockney housemaid who sails through the cleaning of a London mansion after getting up at three each morning to read Nietzshe result -" dark circles under her eyes") Numerous "descriptions" of London that read like the A to Z, a story that rambles so far and wide from anything resembling a plot that you NEED an A to Z. Anachronisms and inaccuracies abound. And why the author, who is English, thought it necessary in a book about England to spell so many words the American way is beyond me. As you can probably tell, I have seldom read such an irritating pile of poop.
I recall reading this book when it was first released but, like so many other series I start, somehow this fell by the wayside. So, I decided to give it another try and really enjoyed getting re-aquainted with Miss Dobbs. In this first novel we learn about her setting up her own private detective agency, but we also learn about her back story.
This novel is set during 1929 and also before, and during, WWI. The echoes of that conflict hang over this book, and the characters within its pages, as though it were yesterday. Maisie’s first client in the book is Christopher Davenham, who suspects that his wife, Celia, is having an affair. On investigation, Maisie discovers that she is mourning a man she loved. However, he did not die in the trenches, but in a retreat, run by an ex-army officer who offers a place for the injured and scarred to live without being stared at.
As the book progresses, this storyline intersects with Maisie’s own back story. We discover that she started life as a servant at the house of Lady Rowan; whose only son James is intending to relinquish both title and wealth to go to the same retreat. Gradually, we learn how Maisie’s intelligence was recognised by Lady Rowan, who encouraged her to gain an education; how the war intervened and how Maisie has reached the point in her life that she has by the time we meet her. With Maisie feeling something is really wrong at the Retreat, she sets out to investigate, with Lady Rowan’s approval.
This really does set the scene for what became a long running series. I look forward to continuing these books and am really glad I gave this another try. Maisie is an interesting character and this novel covers so much – from a touching love story, to life below stairs, early university education for women, nursing during the first world war and more. Somehow, the author holds all the threads of the storyline together and you are left with a satisfying novel and a main character you have come to care about.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 9, 2019
After a run of reading some exceptionally gory thrillers and detective series, I felt in need of something more gentle to slow my heart rate - which this, indeed did. Perhaps a little too gentle for me - not sure I'll be reading the next one before I get a fix of one of my more, um...accident prone detectives. But come back to the series I probably will. This was well written and much of the book was taken up by Maisie's back story - how she came from being in service as a teenager to a wartime nurse and, finally, running her own detective agency.
I liked the characters, many of whom will no doubt turn up in the next book, and I liked the London 1920s setting. The cockney speaking became a bit irritating to read, but I suppose it was necessary. Nothing mind-blowing, but a pleasant read for a rainy Sunday.