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Maisie Dobbs

by Jacqueline Winspear

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Maisie Dobbs (1)

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4,7992702,304 (3.82)672
Fiction. Mystery. Historical Fiction. HTML:

The book that introduced the world to the intuitive, intelligent, and resourceful heroine Maisie Dobbsâ??one of literature's favorite sleuths!

Maisie Dobbs entered domestic service in 1910 at thirteen, working for Lady Rowan Compton. When her remarkable intelligence is discovered by her employer, Maisie becomes the pupil of Maurice Blanche, a learned friend of the Comptons. In 1929, following an apprenticeship with Blanche, Maisie hangs out her shingle: M. Dobbs, Trade and Personal Investigations. She soon becomes enmeshed in a mystery surrounding The Retreat, a reclusive community of wounded World War I veterans. At first, Maisie only suspects foul play, but she must act quickly when Lady Rowan's son decides to sign away his fortune and take refuge there. Maisie hurriedly investigates, uncovering a disturbing mystery, which, in an astonishing denouement, gives Maisie the courage to confront a ghost that has haunted her for years.… (more)

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» See also 672 mentions

English (270)  Italian (1)  All languages (271)
Showing 1-5 of 270 (next | show all)
I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't stay very interested. Maisie, in the end, was just too perfect to be likeable, and there were no real villians at all. Even the Major turned out to be just a man driven mad by the damands of the war, and his henchman similarly twisted and confused. Her love interest had been conveniently disposed of with a heroic death, all the characters were saved at the last minute, etc. Even Disney cartoon characters are more interesting. But there were several bright moments that rescued this book. I was moved by Maisie's experiences and observations as a field nurse during the war. Until he was revealed as a sad lunatic who only needed Maisie's understanding to be stopped in his tracks, I found the mystery of the Major and The Retreat intriguing. Those bright moments held me to the story, kept me slogging through the dull parts. At the very least, this story kept my mind otherwise occupied while getting my chores done over the weekend. That's worth something. ( )
  Doodlebug34 | Jan 1, 2024 |
Engaging characters, good plotlines ( )
  Jacquie_S | Oct 1, 2023 |
I would really like to give this book 3.5 stars. It kept my interest and the writing was enjoyable, but a bit slow. I think one Maisie Dobbs book will be enough for me. I'm glad I gave this series a try. ( )
  Maryjane75 | Sep 30, 2023 |
When I first started reading this, I thought it reminded me a little bit of the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series, how it is the story of a young woman who decides to start her own little investigation business. And then I noticed that a reviewer is quoted on the back of the book, making that exact comparison. But really, that's pretty much where the similarity ends. This book is set between the World Wars, and Maisie Dobbs is a veteran of WWI. She is described as having a particular gift, for creating an environment where people will confide in her and almost help themselves to the conclusion of whatever woe led them to seek her services. Part of this is her natural personality, and part of it is the training she received from her mentor. The first part of the book describes the "mystery of the week," and is almost inconsequential, except that is leads Maisie to a much bigger and more sinister issue, and opens the door for the reader to understand Maisie's personal story. The second part of the narrative is that story. The last part of the book concludes the mystery and sets up the future of the series. It felt very much like the first episode of a police procedural television series, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The writing is good and the characters are likable. I'll definitely go back and read more of Maisie's exploits. I have no doubt that WWII will become a character as the series continues (no spoilers here, just speculation), since it is hinted at in the last few paragraphs. I'm happy to have a new mystery series to pick away at. ( )
  karenchase | Jun 14, 2023 |
What a beautiful, heartbreaking, hopeful, amazing book. I have had it on my shelves for a number of years and many times I looked at it, thought about it, then put it back. Until now. And zowie! I am completely blown away by this book. The story covers the post-war years in England, then zips back with stunning clarity into the years just before the outbreak of the Great War, and wraps everything up in stunning fashion.

Maisie Dobbs has begun her own private investigation firm. Her first client is a gentleman of the upper classes who suspects his wife is having an affair, so hires Maisie to follow her. Which she does with great detail to present to her new client. And through the interactions Maisie has with this husband, and the caretaker of her building, and her internal conversations about her ever-cold feet, we begin to see that she has been impacted by the Great War.

When Maisie follows the young wife to a soldier's graveyard, the first hint that this book is different comes fully to light. Here we are in 1929, what America sees as the Roaring Twenties, watching two women tending the graves of the fallen soldiers in England. One no longer has a surname on his grave, and this leads to revelations about The Farm, where wounded and disfigured soldiers can go live in peace. To contemplate a situation wherein the shells were so powerful, faces were mutilated but the soldiers lived only to be shunned or receive "those" looks from their beloveds is heart-wrenching. And told with such compassion as the after-effects of the Great War.

The middle section details Maisie's growing up as a maid in service to a wealthy suffragette who thinks that maybe, just maybe, she can change the life of one person, even if she can't change the world. Well, she does. She recognizes the need Maisie has to read, to study, and enriches her mind by providing her with a tutor as well as the time she needs to study. And added to this idyllic reading time is the prevalent class consciousness of Britain that causes Maisie to doubt her own calling to education.

We do get to the War, and Maisie's service in Britain before finally being called to France, where she deepens her relationship with Simon, a gifted wartime doctor. And her life as a battlefield nurse, with the mud, the sleepless nights, the close quarters, the endless wounded, are so very well described. When they abruptly end and we are back in the modern era, there is still a mystery unfolding about The Farm and the repercussions of the battlefields, at home and abroad. ( )
  threadnsong | Apr 23, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 270 (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 (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Winspear, Jacquelineprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barrington, RitaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cassidy, OrlaghNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crosio, OliviaTranslatorsecondary 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."
... the veil that was lifted in the early hours, of the all-seeing eye that was open before the day was awake. The hours before dawn were the sacred time, before the intellect rose from slumber. At this time one's inner voice could be heard. (p. 25)
... consider the nature of a mask. We all have our masks ... (p. 223)
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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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Fiction. Mystery. Historical Fiction. HTML:

The book that introduced the world to the intuitive, intelligent, and resourceful heroine Maisie Dobbsâ??one of literature's favorite sleuths!

Maisie Dobbs entered domestic service in 1910 at thirteen, working for Lady Rowan Compton. When her remarkable intelligence is discovered by her employer, Maisie becomes the pupil of Maurice Blanche, a learned friend of the Comptons. In 1929, following an apprenticeship with Blanche, Maisie hangs out her shingle: M. Dobbs, Trade and Personal Investigations. She soon becomes enmeshed in a mystery surrounding The Retreat, a reclusive community of wounded World War I veterans. At first, Maisie only suspects foul play, but she must act quickly when Lady Rowan's son decides to sign away his fortune and take refuge there. Maisie hurriedly investigates, uncovering a disturbing mystery, which, in an astonishing denouement, gives Maisie the courage to confront a ghost that has haunted her for years.

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