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A Lesson in Secrets

(Maisie Dobbs #8)

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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  14,277 Ratings  ·  1,339 Reviews
In the summer of 1932, Maisie Dobbs’ career goes in an exciting new direction 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 pa
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Hardcover, 321 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by Harper (first published 2011)
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Popular Answered Questions
Linda Flynn Actually, this was the first book I read from the series. Winspear provides enough background that I didn't feel while reading the book.
Rita Her most recent book is To Die but Once published in 2018, although I believe another is coming. This book is Number 8.

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Phrynne
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
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Hannah
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011-reads, mysteries
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
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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
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Deb
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
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
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Marianne
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
Joe
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
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Peggy
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
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
LemonLinda
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
Sue
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
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RebeccaS
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
Kathryn
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
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Siria
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
edh
Jan 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
I am very excited to finally see WWII on the horizon in this series. I describe it as a "slow burn" to prospective readers because I need them to understand that Maisie isn't about action and adventure as much as she is about peeling away the layers of the people who lived through WWI.

Here, we see Maisie starting to separate from her own practice and begin to take orders from the Secret Service. She is nosing around a small college dedicated to the practice of peace but which may harbor traitor
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MaryJo Dawson
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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Chrysta
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!
Neal Sanders
Jun 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Keeping a mystery series readable after eight books is a challenge for any writer. When I read ‘Maisie Dobbs’ in 2003, I was captivated by the character, the setting and the plot. But, what does a writer do once the main character’s back story is fully fleshed out?
There are multiple paths, most of them not pretty. Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series has taken on such a huge cast of secondary characters that the plot lines are little more than a distraction from the comings and goings of Ame
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Linda
Mar 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, mystery-light
A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear is another of the delightful"Maisie Dobbs" series. Maisie is a nurse from London, who served and was wounded during the war and now runs a private investigation company. She is highly successful and extremely well respected in a time in the late 1920’s and 1930’s when this would have been extremely unusual. Maisie is asked to join both the Special Service and Scotland Yard in the investigation of destructive and unusual events that seem to be advancing ...more
Glenajo
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Set in the years following WWI in England, the Masie Dobbs series employs a pervading sense of gloom felt as the people deal with the deaths of so many, disabled veterans, high unemployment, and the truly poor lower class. This series allows a ‘richer’ society to glimpse the difficulty of the time, and the amazing changes as one of the poor, Masie, begins to climb the ladder to a better life, albeit with the help of those above her and her brilliant mind. While some may argue that this was unusu ...more
Kat
May 25, 2011 rated it liked it
In today's NYT there was an Op-Ed piece titled something like "Why England Works". We threw out the paper so I cannot check who wrote it and what the exact title was. But the point of the column was that the British democracy/system of government actually works much better than the American one. They are in some ways much more adversarial with the "in-your-face" Question Time in Parliament, but at the same time much less ideologically divided than the US. Partly, because their elites all went to ...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
Tiffany
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Another lovely story by Jacqueline Winspear. In this one, Maisie goes undercover as a philosophy lecturer at a college, and while looking in to one subject, finds herself involved in a second mystery. Plus, mysteries at home: her former coworker/employee, and her beau; and attempts to convince both her father and her other employee to let her help them find better living arrangements.

This one wasn't as good as some of the other Maisie Dobbs stories, but it was a lovely read nonetheless.
Janice
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Maisie Dobbs is truly amazing. In the past she has been a nurse on the warfront, a therapist (with great intuitive skills), a private investigator, and has done some work in forensic pathology. Now she is a college professor, lecturing on Philosophy at a private university in Cambridge, although actually working undercover to find out about activities that may be developing that are contrary to the country's best interest. Those of us who have come to love Maisie in this series are not even surp ...more
Lbaker
My friend won this book from Goodreads, then passed it on to me. I have never read Jacqueline Winspear and her Maisie Dobbs series, but am always willing to read a mystery.

Although A Lesson in Secrets is book 8 in the Maisie Dobbs series, it was an enjoyable read when read alone. The book is set in England after the first World War and before the second, this was a very interesting time regarding secrets, spies, the enormous loss of life suffered during WW1 and the flu afterwards, the average p
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Carol
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
This is another good read in the Maisie Dobbs series, one of my favorite series. Winspear has really done her homework on this one, as she always does. Maisie finds herself independently wealthy, yet still working as she is asked by the British Secret Service to "spy" on the students & staff at an exclusive college to discover any anti-British activities. When the college president is murdered, Maisie becomes involved in more than just the actions of some future Nazis, but also the murder. I ...more
Susan
Mar 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audio, 2012
The only good thing about this story is that I finally finished it. I didn't like the storyline, I didn't like the characters, I didn't like the excessive filler in this story and I didn't like the fact that the previous entry was SO good and this one was really bad. What happened? It seemed there wasn't much to this story, hence the inconsequential filler, which is fine and good but not to this extent.

I'm finding this author is really a hit or miss with me and it makes me afraid to pick up the
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Betty
Nov 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am enjoying Maisie as I read the books. There are plenty of secrets that Maisie must keep. Maisie is working with the Secret Service and is teaching at The College Of St Francis, school established to bring about PEACE. There are worries that the Nazi party is there. While Maisie is present the Dean is MURDER.
Billie is working to Sandra find out why her husband died. James Compton is in Canada. All the characters continue to grow.
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Play Book Tag: A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear - 4 stars 2 11 Jan 03, 2017 11:15AM  
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3,749 followers
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
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Other books in the series

Maisie Dobbs (1 - 10 of 15 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)
“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.”
2 likes
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