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A Lesson in Secrets

(Maisie Dobbs #8)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  19,154 ratings  ·  1,642 reviews
In the summer of 1932, Maisie Dobbs’s career takes an exciting new turn when she accepts an undercover assignment directed by Scotland Yard’s Special Branch and the Secret Service. Posing as a junior lecturer, she is sent to a private college in Cambridge to monitor any activities, “not in the interests of His Majesty’s Government.”
When the college’s controversial pacifist
Hardcover, 321 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by Harper
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  19,154 ratings  ·  1,642 reviews

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Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Number eight in the Maisie Dobbs series.
I think I liked this one the best in the series so far. I really enjoy all the historical facts about England in the period between the two World Wars and I love following Maisie to places in London and its surrounds which I know quite well.
The mystery was handled well and I did not guess the culprit until quite late in the piece. Maisie herself is in a good place - her assistance being sought by a certain Government agency shows she is well regarded which
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mysteries, 2011-reads
Rating Clarification: 2.5 Stars

Disappointing installment in the Maisie Dobbs series. Certainly, this one had the potential to be a real turning point in the series, as Maisie (and Great Britain in general) move further away from the Great War and now feel the first ominous rumblings of Hitler's rise to power.

I had begun to enjoy these books again after the last two in the series (Among the Mad and The Mapping of Love and Death), both of which were extremely entertaining reads and developed Maisi
Judith Starkston
Jacqueline Winspear fans won’t need any prodding to read her latest Maisie Dobbs mystery, A Lesson in Secrets. The rest of you should be ashamed of yourselves. This is her eighth book in the series, and by now you should have been gobbling up these first-rate novels set in the years following World War I.

Maisie’s character makes for uncommonly good reading. Winspear avoids all the simplistic, predictable versions of independent female sleuth that have proliferated over the years. She has descr
Apr 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011-books-read
I love the Maisie Dobbs series and I looked forward to this newest installment. Maisie is recruited by the British intelligence to go undercover as a philosophy lecturer at a "peace" college at Cambridge. It's 1932 and there is a growing fascination with Hitler's rhetoric. Maisie's brief is to find out whether any of the "peace" activities are damaging to the Crown. On the home front, Billy's wife is expecting a fourth child, James Compton seems to be less than truthful, and Sandra, a former Com ...more
Melissa Lenhardt
Nov 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
I’m not sure how or when I first discovered the Maise Dobbs series. I think I happened upon the first book, Maisie Dobbs, at the library. Intrigued by the setting – England between the wars – I picked it up and immediately liked the character. It was an interesting mystery novel in that a large portion of it was a flashback to the character’s past. I can’t even remember her first case, truth be told. It was Maisie and her personal story that kept me interested. Since then, I have waited anxiousl ...more
Dec 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A Lesson In Secrets is the eighth book in the Maisie Dobbs series by British-born American author, Jacqueline Winspear. After being (somewhat ineptly) followed for some ten days, psychologist and investigator, Maisie Dobbs finds herself recruited into the Secret Intelligence Service by Brian Huntley (as was hinted by her late mentor during his last days), to work a job in conjunction with Robbie MacFarlane of Scotland Yard Special Branch. Having signed the Official Secrets Act, she is to pose as ...more
♥ Sandi ❣
2.75 stars

I failed to like this book in the Maisie Dobbs series. I was disappointed. I think I see a pattern in Winspear's writing that I don't care for. It appears that her method of deepening or darkening a mystery is to add characters. Characters that give absolutely nothing to the story being read. If this is her way of covertly masquerading the mystery in her storyline, I am saddened.

There was one thing that did surprise me in book. It stated that Maisie had black hair and blue eyes. That
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
A Lesson in Secrets is the eighth book in a series but the first for me; so reading it already felt like uncovering a bit of a secret. The protagonist, Maisie Dobbs a highly insightful, but cagey detective who rarely let's her friends or her audience know exactly what's on her mind. She's a likable character who with a rich past; though it often felt like much of that past was re-told from the earlier seven novels.

But the secrets go deeper than the main character. This is a mystery story with m
Dawn Michelle
Another excellent addition to the Maisie Dobbs series. I really enjoy this series and this one had me guessing from the very beginning. And just when I thought I had it all figured out, I was TOTALLY wrong. WOW. I love it when that happens!!
There was one thing I was right about and I am unsure of how Maisie didn't see this [and truly rolled my eyes at the reveal of the mystery] as she is much smarter than that; it was the only part of the book that rang untrue.

It was interesting to see how mu
May 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Though Maisie's success in love and work and her new personal wealth are well-deserved, I fear that she may become less interesting as a main character. Her appeal as a heroine was in her struggle to overcome poverty and war to become an independent working woman between the wars in 20th century London. Our talented heroine's hard work has reaped huge rewards. Still, her elevated station in life means there's a loss of tension in the plots and subplots. There is also increased alignment between ...more
This was not my favorite. Too slow? Too circuitous? Something was off to me. 3 1/2 stars.
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
You simply cannot go wrong with a Maisie Dobbs book. This series by Jacqueline Winspear is a progression through the years before, during and after WWI and although I am sure you would enjoy any one of them as a stand alone read, I would recommend starting from the first. This one is set in 1933 as Europe is marching slowly but surely to WWII. Fascism is rearing it’s ugly head in England and many will accept anything as long as it keeps the peace. The cold hard ugly truth of war is too well reme ...more
Elizabeth  (Thoughts From an Evil Overlord)
This may be my favorite Maisie Dobbs. It has an interesting mystery as always, but it's more Maisie as woman coming in to her full stride of life that grabbed me. She now has an established inquiry agency with Billy Beale as her assistant. She is so well-regarded that Scotland Yard and the Secret Service have called her in for some under cover work. She is teaching philosophy at a new college in Cambridge, watching for signs of anti-government leanings of students or staff. On her second day the ...more
Jan 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers of historical fiction, mysteries
This is the 8th in the Maisie Dobbs series and she has reached late 1932. With economic times still hard in England and Europe as a whole, Hitler and the Nazi party on the rise in Germany and the Secret Service recruiting her to look for suspicious behavior at a peace college, Maisie has more than enough to keep herself busy before the murder of the college principal.

In this installment, there are developments in every part of her life. Her private inquiry business continues to thrive, she is no
Feb 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
This is the first Maisie Dobbs novel I have read and I'm sorry that I haven't read the others after reading this one! I intend to correct that right away.

Maisie is recruited by the British Secret Service in 1932. They ask Maisie to keep tabs on Greville Liddicote. Liddicote is the author of a pacifist children's book that the government went to great pains to suppress during WWI and he has founded a college in Cambridge devoted to maintaining peace in Europe. Maisie keeps tabs on Liddicote by be
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I think with each book I fall more and more into this series. I love how each books brings so much character development and none of the characters are just living static lives. I read these books for the interesting mysteries, but also to see what is in store for each recurring character. The writing is sophisticated and beautiful and the story lines are also full of emotion and intrigue with interesting outcomes. I am happy that Maisie is finding some happiness and progress in her life, though ...more
This is the eighth in the Maisie Dobbs series of novels but the first I've read. Maisie Dobbs is one of those slightly unbelievable characters who populate these sorts of mystery novels—born into a working-class English family in the late nineteenth century, she goes into service but is Discovered as a bright young thing, goes to Cambridge, serves as a nurse during the Great War, and eventually becomes a private investigator and the heir to a comfortable fortune. Did I mention that even in 1932 ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: challenge
I love these books. Maisie is such an interesting character and I love watching her solve cases. She also lives in such an interesting time in history and in this book especially it was interesting to see some of the things going on in Britain, knowing what will be happening in less than a decade. I'm still hoping Maisie will find her happily ever after and am more convinced that she just needs to let herself be happy. ...more
MaryJo Dawson
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Here is another enjoyable read in the Maisie Dobbs series, with the quality of the story and the consistency in the characterizations - except...

This book lost a star in my rating only because Winspear has Maisie go farther in her relationship with James Compton than I think the lady she developed, in her time period, would have gone. That was the only disappointment.
Mal Warwick
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
December 1932. Adolf Hitler is agitating to become Chancellor of Germany as his following grows. Many Britons, too, especially the aristocracy, are finding a lot to like in Herr Hitler and his Nazi Party. In increasing numbers, they are campaigning to resist any effort by the United Kingdom to go to war with Nazi Germany—a war that many wiser heads are already predicting. The Nazis and the Fascists are joined by many pacifists. But Maisie Dobbs is not among them. She abhors the anti-Semitism of ...more
Pamela Mclaren
Its 1932 and intrepid former WWI nurse, not private inquiry agent, Maisie Hobbs is on an undercover assignment at the direction of Scotland Yard's Special Service. She's a junior lecturer at a private college led by an academic known for a children's book about ending all war. The governments concerned that the college may be the setting for activities "not in the interests of his majesty's government." The case become more complicated when the principal is murdered.

On the home front, Maisie is
Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
At first, I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy this series. Maisie Dobbs seemed immersed in privilege and wealth and I struggled to concentrate and be interested in her life. However, it wasn’t long before I was hooked and enmeshed in the 1930’s and the lives of Masie and her friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances. As Alexander McCall Smith says on the cover “Masie Dobbs has not been created – she has been discovered”. And what a revelation she is!
It’s a bit odd coming to a series in the mid
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Maisie Dobbs! Such a great historical fiction cozy mystery series! You can feel the time period is on the cusp of WWII as Hitler and his political party are mentioned more in this book. It was in interesting twist to see Maisie not in her usual role as an investigator but as an instructor at a college. Can’t wait to see what’s up next for Maisie!
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another interesting installment. Watching the developments of the world in 1932 from a present day eye is both interesting and extremely hard to take. Maisie has become one of my favorite heroines. I love the things she does personally and professionally. And super happy for Billy in this one. I definitely want more of Stratton...
Diana (DomesticGoddess)
Maisie ended the call and left for the station. She wondered how she had become so much more adept at telling lies since she signed the Official Secrets Act. But then, secrets and lies always went together.

Wouldn’t surprise me if Headley isn’t a Fascist—mind you, the corridors of power are littered with Fascist leanings; anything to save the upper classes through disenfranchisement of the common man while allowing the common man to think you’re on his side.”
May 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Another Maise Dobbs adventure. Getting a bit predictable, but a nice easy read.
Oct 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I have absolutely loved this series until this point, but this installment felt scattered and somewhat superficial. I kept losing track of the threads, and felt curiously unmoved. Some of my favorite characters, such as Billy and Frankie, were barely present. But Maisie Dobbs is a character I will follow, wherever she goes.
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's odd how the secret service is more concerned about Communism than Fascism. Nope, nothing relatable or relevant here at all. ...more
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Such a fascinating sense of terror and unease that is starting to seep in while reading these, with the buildup of the Nazi party in Germany and what it means for England.
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Play Book Tag: A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear - 4 stars 2 13 Jan 03, 2017 11:15AM  

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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

Other books in the series

Maisie Dobbs (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, #1)
  • 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)
  • Elegy for Eddie (Maisie Dobbs, #9)
  • Leaving Everything Most Loved (Maisie Dobbs, #10)
  • A Dangerous Place (Maisie Dobbs, #11)

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The bestselling mystery writer takes a break from her Maisie Dobbs series to pen a stand-alone historical novel, The Care and Management of Lies,...
27 likes · 14 comments
“Wolfgang von Goethe:"A man can stand anything, except a succession of ordinary days.” 12 likes
“(a statement someone makes to Maisie regarding attitudes prior to WWII):
"...the corridors of power are littered with Fascist leanings; anything to save the upper classes through disenfranchisement of the common man while allowing the common man to think you're on his side.”
More quotes…