Leanna's Reviews > Maisie Dobbs

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
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Mar 12, 2008

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Read in March, 2008

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 Maisie investigates “The Retreat” where injured soldiers escape the stares of society.

In the other half, Winspear recounts Maisie’s past. She moves from being a greengrocer’s daughter to an aristocrat’s protégé to a WWI nurse to a private investigator. Maisie Dobbs is almost too good to be true: brilliant and dedicated, moving seamlessly between all ranks in society.

The book is well written, but the split-nature of its format backfires. Maisie is too perfect to be an appealing heroine (although a disturbing scene at the end of the book belies Maisie’s perfection). And Winspear does not fully develop the mystery, so its climax borders on the ridiculous.

Winspear has written several more books in the Maisie Dobbs series. Though I haven’t read them, they are apparently more consistent with the genre and concentrate more on mysteries and less on Maisie’s history. I will have to invest in the second novel before dismissing the series completely.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Cropsey (new)

Cropsey I enjoyed the book until the final few pages..then I HATED the author and MAISIE! I couldn't believe it!
I don't think I'll ever read another book of WInspear's.


Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) Very valid criticisms. I found myself skimming over the silly ending; I felt she went too much for the emotional impact bit...However it is a first novel, and I find of late that many writers of this type of mystery take a book or two to find their true voice and hit their form.


Marge Cree what a great story line. I was excited to see how this story would unfold. Unfortunately it didn't. There was no emotion or depth to this book. I felt like there was a book before this that I missed explaining things that this book sure didn't.


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