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Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs #1)

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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  36,876 ratings  ·  3,904 reviews
Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence—and the patronage of her benevolent employers—she works her way into college at Cambridge. When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a privat ...more
Paperback, 309 pages
Published May 25th 2004 by Penguin (first published January 1st 2003)
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) Basically he became a detective when he studied forensic medicine.(He tells Maisie about learning what the dead can tell him). Part of the mystery…moreBasically he became a detective when he studied forensic medicine.(He tells Maisie about learning what the dead can tell him). Part of the mystery apparently is, "Who is Maurice Blanche, really?" We are given teasers--he may be a big noise in the Foreign office or such as that, given his "continental services" and the letters on the wall. Is he English, or foreign? Where did he really spring from? He's the mystery man that makes Maisie what she is.(less)
The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Alienist by Caleb CarrThe Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónMistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Best Historical Mystery
11th out of 1,125 books — 2,994 voters
Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth PetersThe Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan BradleyThe Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. KingMaisie Dobbs by Jacqueline WinspearSilent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
Favorite Historical Mystery Series
4th out of 723 books — 751 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Hannah
Aug 08, 2010 Hannah rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Hannah by: Carol Kerry-green
I picked up Maisie Dobbs from the library upon the rec. of my GR friend Carol, and have to say that this initial entry marks what may prove to be one of the cleverest mystery series since Dorothy Gilman brought the retired and intrepid Mrs. Pollifax to life back in the 1960s. (For more on Mrs. Pollifax, see The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax)

Don't go into reading Maisie Dobbs with any preconceived ideas about what you'll find there. Yes, it's a mystery -- somewhat. Yes, it's a historical novel -- some
...more
Hilary
In general I prefer to confine the term 'Mary Sue' to fan fiction, where it belongs. But when I tell you that Maisie has purple eyes, rippling black hair, outstanding intelligence, a near-psychic empathy with her clients, and is practically perfect in every possible way & I think I may be allowed an exception. On top of all this, the author researched the First World War background for this very, very thoroughly and, oh, how it shows! Throw in a faithful Cockernee sidekick (wiv an 'eart of g ...more
Leanna
A neighbor recommended Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs as one of the best books she’s read. The book cover boasts quotes from The New York Times (“Be prepared to be astonished”), NPR (“A quirky literary creation”), and Alexander McCall Smith (“[A:] real gift”). Naturally, I had high expectations.

Maisie Dobbs is a detective and self-proclaimed psychologist in post-WWI London, and the novel splits its time between a case and detailing Maisie’s background. Only half the book is a mystery as Mais
...more
Diane Librarian
This is a story about a cute, clever, and plucky young woman named Maisie Dobbs. Maisie is setting up her own private investigation practice in London. The year is 1929, and everyone we meet is still coping with the effects of the world war, including Maisie.

Maisie has a cute and charming way of talking with people and getting them to share their stories. Her first client is a man who thinks his wife is cheating on him. Maisie follows the woman, befriends her and learns her sad tale about a love
...more
Joanne
A beautifully written story of a young girl's rise from household servant to wartime field nurse to her own successful career as a private investigator during WWI-era England. This novel is so much more than just an historical mystery with a clever female sleuth. Winspear creates Maisie's story of her first professional case in such a way that with flashbacks we understand the physical and psychological scars of those who served during wartime...the sacrifices of the body, mind and heart....whic ...more
Hayes
Jan 18, 2013 Hayes rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Hayes by: Mystery Group Read
ETA Jan 2013: quick re-read before I start the rest in the series.
A little better the second time round. Clearer head, or something. But my original opinion, below, still holds. 3.5 stars

I liked this, very much; I just didn't love it. I wanted to be more connected to Maisie, but felt that she slipped away before I could learn to love her. I liked the story and the back story and the way they intertwined, although I found the switching back and forth in time was handled a little awkwardly.

I will
...more
Alaina
It took me a few tries to start this book. Probably the only reason I finally read it was because I'm trying to read the books I already have, instead of adding to my ever growing pile of books to read.

Maisie Dobbs is a new private eye in post WWI London, setting up shop and trying to earn a good client base in a world still getting used to the working woman outside of service. With a cunning mind, great determination, and a bit of luck and help along the way (from a supportive father and a libe
...more
Jennifer
I really enjoyed this first book in Winspear's mystery series. Maisie Dobbs is a very intriguing and sympathetic heroine full of admirable traits.

At age 13, after her mother's death, her father sends her to be a servant in the home of a kindly aristocratic family. The family sees much promise in the smart Maisie and offers to fund her education. WWI breaks out and Maisie feels called to volunteer. She goes to France as a nurse and her experiences impact her in a way that changes her life foreve
...more
Carolyn
I really enjoyed this introduction to Maisie Dobbs, one of the most interesting female PIs I've come across to date.

Born into a working class family where her father has a fruit and vegetable delivery business, Maisie dreams of becoming a teacher. However after her mother dies her father reluctantly sends her into service as a housemaid with Lord and Lady Compton. After discovering Maisie reading in the library in the middle of the night, Lady Comptom takes Maisie under her wing and arranges tu
...more
Allison
Maisie Dobbs starts out in the late 1920s, with Maisie just setting up her investigation business. It gets into the first real case, then takes a significant detour into the past to give Maisie’s backstory - I’d say probably half the book shows her childhood up through WWI nursing experiences. So although there’s a mystery, it really felt like a WWI historical novel much of the time, along with the horrors and sadness it left behind. Once Maisie’s character is fully established, it comes back to ...more
David
I've enjoyed all four books to date in the Maisie Dobbs series. Winspear is meticulous about doing her homework about the period in question (World War I and its aftermath), and the heroine, Maisie is muy simpática.

That said, not all four books are of equal quality. For my taste, this one (#1) is the best of the bunch, with #4 (Messenger of Truth) close on its heels. The plot to #2 was a bit too predictable, while #3 suffers from the opposite flaw - too many convoluted subplots, with a little to
...more
LJ
MAISIE DOBBS (Historical Novel/Mystery) – Okay
Jacqueline Winspear – 1st book
Penguin Books, 2003 – Trade Paperback
Set in England between 1910 and 1929 is the story of Maisie who goes from being the daughter of a fruit-and-vegetable man, to the in-between maid of wealthy aristocrats where she receives special tutoring, on to college and then serving as a Nurse in France during WWI and, finally, setting up an investigative service where she is asked to find out about “The Retreat,” a home for young
...more
BJ Rose
Having never read Jacqueline Winspear before, I came to this book with no expectations, but having read it, I can see why it won various Best First Novel awards, and I look forward to reading more in the Maisie Dobbs series, altho I'm not sure the others can hold the emotional impact of this one. This was not a happy book, but like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, it has that 'rising-above-what-life-dealt you' aspect. Maisie was a poor girl in service who caught the attention of Lady Rowan and Maurice ...more
Nicole
The only thing I didn't care for with this book is that Winspear started with the mystery, then gave Maisie's back story for the second third of the book, then went back to the mystery. I loved the setting (England and France during and just after World War I) and the odd little insightful observations on the psychology of the mind. The character of Maisie Dobbs completely won me over. An intelligent woman from the lower class making her mark on the world. Winspear didn't allow Maisie to be a ma ...more
Pam
A friend turned me on to the Maisie Dobbs series. I recommend that you read them in sequence. I enjoyed the historical references about World War I, which is a war that many of us today could not understand the horrific conditions that soldiers and nurses, in particular, endured in the trenches. Talk about post traumatic stress!

The mysteries are interesting as they involve the human pysche. A must read.
Kimber
This was recommended by a friend and I have to say that I am loving it. I cry in all the wrong places - it's the happy parts of the book that make me cry. It makes me realize that I live an easy life.
Chaitra
Well. This was a waste of time. I don't think there was an aspect of this book I did not hate. Starting from the holier-than-thou main character, to the non-existent mystery, to the amazing (not) resolution of the non-mystery, to the abrupt hundred pages worth of tedious flashback in the middle of the mystery; everything bothered me.

So. Maisie Dobbs is a private eye. She was a housemaid once, but it turned out that she was one of nature's rare prodigies, reading Latin by candlelight. Her master
...more
Jamie
I wanted to like this, because I found the premise and the setting very interesting. These mysteries feature a female private detective, a veteran WWI nurse working in London in 1929. This first book is heavily concerned with the first World War and its veterans.

But the writing, while I can't point to any specific problem, left me a bit cold. The protagonist Maisie also rubbed me the wrong way. I don't like that she feels it mandatory to provide psychological counseling to her clients, or the wa
...more
Trish
I got about 2/3 of the way through this audiobook and just couldn't take it anymore. Maisie is the flattest character I have read in a long time, and in fact I can't even think of a flatter character. She is a one-dimensional, and oh too good to be true, character doing all the "right" things, I just couldn't listen to it anymore. Some of the book's critics have compared her to Nancy Drew; well I read all of the Nancy Drew books and Maisie Dobbs is no Nancy Drew, she could only hope to have 1/2 ...more
First Second Books
It’s so awesome to have a female detective during World War I – and one who’s solving exciting, active cases while building her career from the ground up!

This book is exciting, thrilling, and a whole lot of fun.
Mari
A friend highly recommended that I read this, and I'm so glad I did! I'm so impressed with Winspear's writing style. I was completely caught up and swept away by both the characters and plot. The author has an ability to create characters with real depth - even the ones you don't spend much time with in the story. The writing is well crafted in a way that will feel comfortable to folks who tend towards literary fiction, making this a great novel to give to folks who don't normally read genre fic ...more
Tony
This first installment in the Maisie Dobbs detective series starts out promising enough. The title character is a young London private investigator embarking on her first case in 1929. Maisie, who seems to employ psychology and empathy in her work, also has the benefit of a kindly old mentor, a wealthy yet liberal benefactor, and a cheeky bloke of a handyman. We soon discover that Maisie was a nurse in France during World War I and then we flash back for 135 pages. Starting in 1910 when she is 1 ...more
Ailish
This book was OK, but for most of the time I found it hard to like Maisie Dobbs, even though I really wanted to. I felt that the novel largely served to introduce the character as the protagonist of what will be a series, with a thin, predictable mystery wrapped around it.

I would have preferred a bit more real detective work and a bit less sitting cross-legged on cushions meditating or relying on prophetic cold chills and shivers to solve the mysteries. It was also hard to decide whether Maisie
...more
Karen
Nov 26, 2008 Karen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those interested in WWI; fans of Alexander McCall Smith.
Gee, I have to respectfully disagree with Bethany on this one! I really enjoyed this book. The story was interesting and kept me reading to find out what would happen next. I found the WWI detail fascinating, especially since I had never read anything about that era from the point of view of a nurse before. I did think the long middle "flashback" section about Maisie's war experiences went on a bit too long (I had almost forgotten what the mystery was by the time we got back to the present day), ...more
AnnaMay
This was so refreshing to read!

The characters were very endearing. Masie, Mrs. Crawford, Mr. Carter, Billy, and of course her WWI friends.

I like the WWI time setting. What an unfair thing war is. So many lives are ruined by it. I appreciated how she didn't glorify it, yet maintained the glorious tribute deserving to those who served and sacrificed.

I appreciated the ending very much. I found this book to be just true-to-life to not be 'hoakey' like the other mysteries I've tried lately, yet it w
...more
Sarah
I had no idea what this bookclub selection was about before I began. Although I am only giving it 3 stars, I must say that I enjoyed the book very much. It is well written and you are hooked right away. I liked it enough that I would be willing to read more of the series or more of this author. My problems with it are that in this first novel of Maisie Dobbs I didn't like how Winspear split the book up with the story of a case she was solving, mixed with the background of Maisie's early life lat ...more
Karen Beck
What a wonderful period timepiece of a book!
Really brings the 'great war' to life.
I will be reading more of Maisie!
Naomi V
This book was recommended to me by a colleague and then on the way home that very evening I heard a review of the tenth anniversary of the publication of the first book on a podcast of Fresh Air. What a coincidence; compounded by my mother-in-law, who is a great reader, mentioning it to me soon after. How could I not give this book a try?

I'm glad I did. Maisie Dobbs is a wonderful character; independent at a time (World War I and shortly thereafter) when women weren't necessarily so, and fortun
...more
Angie
I hated this book so much. And whenever I hate an audiobook I have to wonder how much of that is due to the narrator and how much blame should be placed on the text. I'm not sure it matters in this case.

Maisie Dobbs is flawless. Jaqueline Winspear should have just called her Mary Sue. She's born into the lower class but has excelled despite her humble upbringing. She has extraordinary talents to get people to open up to and trust her. It's in her eyes, you see. And even as a baby there was some
...more
Rick Fisher
4.5 stars.

Excellent read. Jacqueline Winspear has a beautifully simplistic style of writing. She is detailed yet subtle in the delivery. JW hits all the right notes while composing a wonderful story. One not overglorified by wordiness or bellicosity.
As a fan of Charles Todd's Bess Crawford series, I wasn't sure about beginning another series about a war nurse/detective. But, I am pleased this series was recommended to me.
The character of Maisie Dobbs is a superbly thought out ingénue with a penc
...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Maisie Dobbs 1 9 Jul 23, 2015 02:13PM  
Cozy Mystery Corner : Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear 24 48 Apr 30, 2015 05:21PM  
The Genre Explorers: April BOTM - Maisie Dobbs 2 5 Mar 31, 2015 07:26PM  
Mysteries & C...: November read - Masie Dobbs 27 64 Nov 29, 2014 10:36PM  
Do you think Maisie will progress beyond post-WWI London? 6 107 Sep 15, 2014 04:37PM  
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Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in the county of Kent, England. Following higher education at the University of London’s Institute of Education, Jacqueline worked in academic publishing, in higher education and in marketing communications in the UK.

She emigrated to the United States in 1990, and while working in business and as a personal / professional coach, Jacqueline embarked upon a li
...more
More about Jacqueline Winspear...

Other Books in the Series

Maisie Dobbs (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs #2)
  • Pardonable Lies (Maisie Dobbs, #3)
  • Messenger of Truth (Maisie Dobbs, #4)
  • An Incomplete Revenge (Maisie Dobbs, #5)
  • Among the Mad (Maisie Dobbs, #6)
  • The Mapping of Love and Death (Maisie Dobbs #7)
  • A Lesson in Secrets (Maisie Dobbs #8)
  • Elegy for Eddie (Maisie Dobbs #9)
  • Leaving Everything Most Loved (Maisie Dobbs #10)
  • A Dangerous Place (Maisie Dobbs, #11)
Pardonable Lies (Maisie Dobbs, #3) Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs #2) The Mapping of Love and Death (Maisie Dobbs #7) Messenger of Truth (Maisie Dobbs, #4) An Incomplete Revenge (Maisie Dobbs, #5)

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“Truth walks toward us on the paths of our questions...as soon as you think you have the answer, you have closed the path and may miss vital new information. Wait awhile in the stillness, and do not rush to conclusions, no matter how uncomfortable the unknowing.” 38 likes
“Shame, isn’t it? That we only like our heroes out in the street when they are looking their best and their uniforms are ‘spit and polished,’ and not when they’re showing us the wounds they suffered on our behalf.” 29 likes
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