Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

    • Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
    • Published 2003
    • Other works by the author include 11 more mysteries featuring the character Maisie Dobbs

    • Maisie Dobbs is the only child in a poor family in London. When her mother dies Maisie starts work as a maid in a wealthy home. Through a chain of circumstances Maisie ultimately opens her own private investigation office. 
    • The agency opens in 1929 and Maisie takes on a case almost immediately. The story also flashes back to Maisie's beginnings and to World War I, all of which have a bearing on her current day case.

    • I have been meaning to try this series for a while because my best friend, aka Lady Chardonnay, loves it. The 12th book looks intriguing but I am not one who can just pick up a series with the most recent book. I have to start with book one.
    • The mystery itself is not necessarily the draw for this volume as it needs to introduce Maisie and present much of her backstory.
    • I watched all seasons of the TV show "Downton Abbey" which took place from 1912 through 1926. Maisie Dobbs takes place in the same country around the same era, approximately 1908 to 1929. I mention this because there are things I learned from Downton that made certain things much clearer: the servant hierarchy, the clothing, the changes wrought by the war and so forth.
    • I sometimes like to read the reviews on Good Reads, especially the bad ones (in both senses of the word). People either love this book or hate it. 
      • They seem to dislike that the mystery is not mysterious enough or something. One said, "I'll go back and re-read Agatha Christie!" Well, you do you.
        • I read these kinds of books because I like the era they occur in or I like the characters.
          • The Barker & Llewelyn series by Will Thomas takes place in London in the 1880s.
          • The Bryant & May series by Christopher Fowler takes place in London anywhere from 1940 until the early 2000s.
          • The Maisie Dobbs series takes place in London in the first three decades of the 20th Century (so far).
            • I think I have spotted the common denominator!
        • The mysteries are secondary for me but I can see how they would be a priority for many people. 
    • Another common Good Reads criticism is that Maisie is a "Mary Sue". This means that she is too good to be true. Here's a succinct general definition: perfectly ordinary yet somehow special. (Wesley Crusher on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" is a famous example of a "Gary Stu".)
      • Yes, most definitely. I did some quick research on what comprises "Mary Sues" and Maisie exhibits several traits that make her one.
      • On the other hand, so what? If you don't like that style of character then this book series won't be for you.
    • To sum up: I liked the book very much and already have the 2nd and 3rd books from the library!


  1. Eek, I may have misled you here, as I have only read the first few and wouldn't say that I "love" them -- but I like them a lot, and Maisie is a great character! Wow, there are 12 already??? I did love the second one, I think, or maybe it was the third one I really loved, but the fourth one was just so dark, I stopped reading. I agree that the 12th one looks great!

    1. Whoops, no, it was #6, Among the Mad, that I stopped reading. I know I read the rural one, #5, but I have NO memory of anything about the story. Were you forgetful like this when you were 53?