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Maisie Dobbs

by Jacqueline Winspear

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Maisie Dobbs (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,9502352,157 (3.84)594
Private detective Maisie Dobbs must investigate the reappearance of a dead man who turns up at a cooperative farm called the Retreat that caters to men who are recovering their health after World War I.
  1. 70
    A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd (Anonymous user)
  2. 20
    The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller (cushlareads)
  3. 10
    A Killer in King's Cove by Iona Whishaw (vancouverdeb)
    vancouverdeb: Both books/ series feature a strong female sleuth.Both sleuths served in some capacity in WW11 Britain. Wonderful cozy mysteries with a twist.
  4. 10
    An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson (lahochstetler)
    lahochstetler: Female detectives solve mysteries centering on the devastating consequences of WWI.
  5. 10
    The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (cransell)
  6. 00
    Gone West by Carola Dunn (cransell)
  7. 00
    Dead Man Riding by Gillian Linscott (christiguc)
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» See also 594 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 233 (next | show all)
This is a wonderful book. I’m happy that it’s the first book in a series because I’m eager to continue and read the rest of the books.

Wonderful characters! Maisie and many other characters seem so much like real people. The story was great. There is a lot of absolutely brilliant humor! This book is not even close to being a comedy but it was so funny so many times. Lots of laughing and smiling at many amusing lines!!! There is also psychological sophistication when looking at people and at human nature and at psychological & physical challenges. I like that Maisie and her mentor(s) have so much understanding of the human condition and intuition when it comes to analyzing what’s going on with people.

My friend and I were disappointed that even though the story’s events took place from 1910-1929 that while WWI was covered the 1918-1920 influenza pandemic was not even mentioned. We both wanted to see how these characters and the places where they were coped with that pandemic, especially given our current situation.

I read this over a long period, reading out loud to a close long time (since age seven) friend who has cancer. We’d intended for me to read to her during her chemo treatments but the COVID-19 pandemic changed our plans when they’d no longer allow me to be present, so we read when we could, over a four month long period. It was a fun book to read aloud, though there were a few pages at one point where it was difficult because I was crying too hard. We both loved the book and started book two immediately upon finishing book one. From paperback to an Overdrive e-book edition from the public library given that e-materials are the only ones available to borrow right now. We will try to read book two much more quickly than we did book one.

This series is a great find. I’d had a couple of friends highly recommend it to me over the years so this first book had been on my to read shelf for a while. I’m glad that it is no longer languishing there!

4-1/2 stars ( )
  Lisa2013 | May 25, 2020 |
This is a great book - well written and engaging.

Exquisite as an Audible re-read. The reader is amazingly good with voices and some singing too. ( )
  mirihawk | May 21, 2020 |
Maisie seems to be both precognitive, AND and emotional empath. I've never heard of someone being able to immediately and psychically know another person's feelings, just by copying their body language. While this is probably pure fantasy, I gave it a try anyways.
The narrative is clogged down with unnecessary and cumbersome details, and there is too much forced sentimentality. I don't like it that she insisted on giving her clients psychological counseling to her patients, and then she instructs her first client to make a commitment to her, and his marriage. (Also, Maisie calls herself responsible to all involved in such investigations, and then goes out of her way to make friends with and invite the confidences of the woman she's supposed to be following. I can see what she did this, but her clients wife is emotionally vulnerable, and to lie about your name and why you are there seems incredibly unprofessional.) Also the way she repeatedly recalls supposed bits of wisdom from her mentor - ad nauseum. In fact, Maisie is constantly remembering, reliving, day dreaming, and such. How does she ever get anything done? See anything important? Or even pay the slightest bit of attention, to anyone/anything...?? Maisie may remember and repeat every learned nugget of wisdom her mentor taught her, but the slightest chill down her spine, and Maisie is off to spectacular suspicions. Yes, they ALWAYS turn out right, but I prefer the REAL way of finding out information in a case; legwork. This, she leaves up to her new flunky, the Cockney-flavored Billy. What a waste. (Not him, the style of learning clues. Maisie should rest less on her "cognitive powers", and more on her actual detective work).
The "mystery" seems incidental to the storyline, which I believe is finding out all about this mysterious countryside rest home for wounded soldiers, The Retreat. By the time she started talking Billy into pretending to be her brother, and the ex-boss Lady Whatsername to front a butt-load of cash to the place while Billy goes to live there, I bailed. Not only is this completely ridiculous as a storyline, but the author Winspear's florid and boring writing, the unrealistic plot line, and the narrator's silly voices for the other characters had me fleeing like a house-on-fire. I completely and totally skipped chapters 9 thru 20. Not at all interested in lead characters backstory. And, I don't even care...!

***(Rita Barrington, I'm very sorry I have insulted your narration abilities. You do have a lovely singing voice though.... I'm so sorry you got stuck with this job).

I just cannot get past the fact that Lady Rowan felt it necessary to not only
A) put Maisie through school and college, when she was a domestic, but also
B) fund her entire company, give her furniture, and even demand her lawyers recommend the place to others, and also
C) keep shelling out money she probably wasn't going to get back, to these trips, the soldier retirement home, and such.
This just isn't realistic, feasible, or anywhere near reality. The writing or overly flowery, and sometimes pretentious as well. I cannot spend precious time listening to an audiobook that annoys me so greatly. And Maurice Blanche is a TOTAL RIP OFF OF POIROT. Only not quite so annoying.
I cannot recommend this novel to anyone, unless you want to be annoyed. Quite possibly to death. 2 stars. ( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
Maisie Dobbs is a really engaging character. The author brought the girl to life in a style that makes the reader care about her protagonist and all the difficulties which she faces. However, the backstory intruded in the momentum of Masie's intellectual development with the support of the charming Lady Rowan and the intriguing Maurice Blanche. I didn't want to read all the detailed scenarios from WWI nursing, battlefield injuries and horrors. Despite skimming these sections, the plot was derailed until the narrative in current time (1929, that is) took over again.

The supporting characters of Maisie's father, Frankie, and Billy Beale were strongly drawn and developed a compelling theme of change in British society between the two world wars. The detective aspects of Maisie's career were innovative and contributed the most enjoyable feature of the novel. If the next book in the series continues with this theme, it will be a successful series for me. ( )
  SandyAMcPherson | Apr 24, 2020 |
The character of Maisie Dobbs is wonderful and complex, as are the cast of characters that surround her. But, the writing is rather cumbersome, and not really my cup of tea. She describes everything in detail. I know some people really enjoy that but so much of the description was just setting that had little to do to move the story. I get that this is a period piece, set right after World War I, but a lot of the details draw the reader away from the actual story. The plots are well done, and I didn't figure it out right away, so that's a plus for Mrs. Windspear.

This particular book covers a lot of ground, with her backstory making up half the book. I wouldn't recommend that to any first time writer, but it works here because Maisie has such an interesting backstory. It Downtown Abbey meets MASH crossed with a Miss Marple story.

She does get a little preachy with the way Maisie tries to fix everyone by the end of each job she takes, but its kinda sweet. We need more of this sort thing, not less. I'm going to read the next book. ( )
  Kardaen | Apr 24, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 233 (next | show all)
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.
added by khuggard | editSchool Library Journal
 
For a clever and resourceful young woman who has just set herself up in business as a private investigator, Maisie seems a bit too sober and much too sad.
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Winspear, Jacquelineprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barrington, RitaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davidson, AndrewCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Now, he will spend a few sick years in institutes,
And do what things the rules consider wise,
And take whatever pity may dole.
Tonight he noticed how the women's eyes
Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
How cold and late it is! Why don't they come
And put him to bed? Why don't they come?

Final verse "Disabled" by Wilfred Owen. It was drafted at Craiglockhart, a hospital for shell-shocked officers, in October 1917. Owen was killed on November 4, 1918, just one week before the armistice.
Dedication
This book is dedicated to the memory of my paternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother.

JOHN "JACK" WINSPEAR sustained serious leg wounds during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. Following convalescence, he returned to his work as a costermonger in southeast London.

CLARA FRANCES CLARK, nee Atterbury, was a munitions worker at the Woolwich Arsenal during the First World War. She was partially blinded in an explosion that killed several girls working in the same section alongside her. Clara later married and became the mother of ten children.
First words
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.
Quotations
In seeking to fill your mind, I omitted to instruct you in the opposite exercise. This small book is for your daily writings, when the day is newborn and before you embark upon the richness of study and intellectual encounter. My instruction, Maisie, is to simply write a page each day. There is no set subject, save that which the waking mind has held close in sleep.
"Lord Compton has received word from the War Office that our horses are to be inspected for service this week.... I *cannot* let them go. I don't want to be unpatriotic, but they are my hunters." ... "Lady Compton. Our sympathies. The country needs one hundred and sixty-five thousand horses, but we need them to be fit, strong and able to be of service on the battlefield."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This Work is the first volume of Jacqueline Winspears' "Maisie Dobbs" Series (2003). Please distinguish it from Winspear's "Mysterious Profile" of the title character, which shares the Maisie Dobbs title but was written exclusively for the Mysterious Bookshop (#25 in a Series) and published in

limited, numbered or lettered editions.
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