Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, #1)” as Want to Read:
Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  54,173 Ratings  ·  5,298 Reviews
Hailed by NPR’s 'Fresh Air' as part 'Testament of Youth', part Dorothy Sayers, and part 'Upstairs, Downstairs', this astonishing debut has already won fans from coast to coast and is poised to add Maisie Dobbs to the ranks of literature’s favorite sleuths.

Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence — and the patronage of her benevolent
Audio CD, 8 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Sound Library (first published January 1st 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Maisie Dobbs, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Camilla Tilly Personally I find it charming to read about her cloche hats and other fashion, about the slow pace that the crimes are solved in and that they are…morePersonally I find it charming to read about her cloche hats and other fashion, about the slow pace that the crimes are solved in and that they are solved with the head and not by DNA analysis and other modern equipment. The social history is part of the charm. But of course if one is not in to the 1920s and 1930s and a fan of Poirot and Miss Marple, then these books are definately not to recommend.(less)
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)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 17, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, crime, to, oxfam, it, goes
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
Oct 01, 2016 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of historical, vaguely female-empowering fiction
Is there anything more controversial at Goodreads than star rating? I think not (and yes, I think it's more controversial than porn or V-blogs). People have opinions on whether or not one should star books that weren't finished, whether one can star unread books by authors they don't like--or even do like--and then there are those that will actually argue a reviewer's rating based on the reviewer's interpretation, the infamous 'you read it wrong' offense.

Here I am, deciding to stretch my reading
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-charm
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
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
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. I listened to the audiobook. It's beautifully done. I am going right into book 2. I'm already attached to the characters.
Jun 30, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
This book just didn't work for me. Maisie Dobbs was mostly annoying and a very boring character and the story was very bland.I liked the ending, but probably not enough to want to read more books about Miss Dobbs unless anyone can convince me that they will get better.
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
Jun 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jamie Collins
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
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recall reading this book when it was first released but, like so many other series I start, somehow this fell by the wayside. So, I decided to give it another try and really enjoyed getting re-aquainted with Miss Dobbs. In this first novel we learn about her setting up her own private detective agency, but we also learn about her back story.

This novel is set during 1929 and also before, and during, WWI. The echoes of that conflict hang over this book, and the characters within its pages, as th
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Review written August 2, 2017

3 1/2 Stars - Nice start. The story and crime case hooked me and I'm convinced to continue with these (audio)books

Maisie Dobbs was a pretty nice and interesting audiobook listening to a historical crime fiction in the easy "Cozy Mystery" genre. This book is also the first part and serial starter with a lot of Maise-books to catch up with.


England, 1929 — 10 years after WWI

Maisie Dobbs is a bright and clever woman who jus
Jan 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maisie Dobbs is one of those easy to love kind of characters. She is a brilliant young housemaid who is discovered by her British aristocratic employer whose patronage leads her to Cambridge and beyond. However, WWI breaks out and things happen which will change the course and perspective of her life. The first of this series is in part a synopsis of her life and how she is to eventually become a private investigator and in part a mystery to be uncovered all dealing and interconnected with the w ...more
Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Feb 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First book in a mystery series featuring a female detective and set in 1920s England. There were alot of chapters devoted to Masie's background story, with the mysteries placed at the begining and end parts of the book. The sections about Maisie's time as a field nurse during World War I were especially well-written. Great character development, but a bit weak on the mystery parts. Hopefully the next book will show improvement there.
[Name Redacted]
MAURICE: "Look, Rowan, it's our new friend, Maisie!

ROWAN: "What's that name again? I forgot."

MAISIE: "Welllllllllllll...
The name's Maisie D.,
And I rock the telly!
I'm half-Joe Camel
And a third Fonzarelli!
I'm the kung fu hippie
From Gangsta City!
I'm a rappin' surfer,
You're the fool I pity!"

ROWAN: "Ooh, Maisie is one outrageous dudette!"

MAURICE: "She's totally in my face!"
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Book Concierge
Book on CD narrated by Rita Barrington

This is the first in a series featuring a former housemaid and Army Nurse. The book begins in 1929, and Maisie Dobbs has opened her own private investigation agency. Her first case is a man who believes his wife is unfaithful. Maisie gets to the truth quickly, but it leads to some painful memories.

I like Maisie and the supporting characters who will, no doubt, make appearances in subsequent books in this cozy mystery series. But this first book spent way to
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: Maisie Dobbs / Jacqueline Winspear - 2** 3 11 Feb 01, 2017 12:36PM  
Around the Year i...: Masie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear 2 17 Jun 23, 2016 09:27PM  
Historical Myster...: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear 18 55 Jun 11, 2016 09:05AM  
Books similar to Maisie Dobbs series 6 65 Jan 21, 2016 10:23AM  
2017 Reading Chal...: Maisie Dobbs 1 13 Jul 23, 2015 02:13PM  
Cozy Mystery Corner : Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear 24 63 Apr 30, 2015 05:21PM  
  • A Duty To The Dead (Bess Crawford, #1)
  • The Prime Minister's Secret Agent (Maggie Hope Mystery, #4)
  • Death at Wentwater Court (Daisy Dalrymple, #1)
  • Murder on Astor Place (Gaslight Mystery, #1)
  • Justice Hall (Mary Russell, #6)
  • In Like Flynn (Molly Murphy Mysteries, #4)
  • Cut to the Quick (Julian Kestrel Mysteries, #1)
  • An Expert in Murder (Josephine Tey, #1)
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 about Jacqueline Winspear...

Other Books in the Series

Maisie Dobbs (1 - 10 of 13 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)

Share This Book

“Truth walks toward us on the paths of our 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.” 46 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.” 37 likes
More quotes…