Maisie Dobbs

Maisie Dobbs

Large Print - 2004
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Hailed by NPRs "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 literatures favorite sleuths. Maisie Dobbs isnt just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligenceand the patronage of her benevolent employersshe 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 private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.
Publisher: Thorndike, Me. : Center Point Pub., 2004.
ISBN: 9781585474066
Characteristics: 350 p. (large print) ; 23 cm.


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List - Mystery
Petoskey_AdultServices May 05, 2021

Maisie Dobbs #1

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Jan 03, 2021

This first Maisie Dobbs novel opens in 1929 London as Maisie sets up her first office as a "psychologist and investigator. " An early case involves an apparently unfaithful wife but Maisie discovers that instead of afternoon assignations, the woman visits the grave of a lost love, a badly injured World War I soldier who survived the war but not the return to civilian life. This opens the floodgates to events in Maisie's own past. Part 2 of the book is a flashback beginning in 1910 with young Maisie's life with her recently widowed father Frankie, an impoverished costermonger. Soon, she takes employment as a housemaid in a grand London household. This part is similar to "Upstairs, Downstairs" except Maisie is a brilliant child, thirsty for knowledge, a fact which her employers learn and encourage. She becomes her employer's protegee and is given an education with a tutor, Dr. Maurice Blanche. We follow Maisie's progress and her admission to Cambridge University. World War I interrupts Maisie's education as she volunteers as a Red Cross nurse and is sent to serve in a field hospital in France. She has a wartime romance with a military surgeon. Winspear writes movingly about the dreadful conditions of trench warfare and in the medical tents. Part 3 returns us abruptly to 1929 London where Maisie's former employer asks her to find out whether The Retreat, a private home for disabled former soldiers, is on the up-and-up. This second investigation into the lives of disabled WWI veterans forces Maisie to confront the loss of her own lover who survived the war but with a catastrophic brain injury.

"Maisie Dobbs" is the template for future Maisie Dobbs novels in which supporting characters recur and the reader experiences major world events through Maisie's life and investigations.

IndyPL_JillL Jan 02, 2021

I found this to be a sweet story with a fun cast of characters. I look forward to seeing how these novels grow as I read along the series.

Oct 17, 2020

I am ready to check this book out. How do I get it from “later “ to place on pickup table?
Thank you.
Nancy Bartholomew

Jul 14, 2020

This as just ok. Not compelling. About a woman’s experience with war, and how it affected soldiers, and their relationships.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Apr 08, 2020

I really enjoy the detailed WWI and 1920s setting, the strong female heroine, and the mystery combined with origin story format. I'll be checking out the sequel!

Mar 31, 2020

Jacqueline Winspear establishes what will inevitably be a lasting character in private investigator Maisie Dobbs. Opening in 1929 London, the novel wastes no time in bringing Dobbs’ charm and strength to light as she accepts a new case for a client suspicious of his wife’s activities. As Dobbs is solving this case with efficiency, Winspear cunningly leads her and readers alike to a case of far greater import. Dobbs stumbles onto information about a suspicious place called the Retreat where veterans are invited to relinquish their belongings and stay to heal. Once this mystery is in place, Winspear diverts readers’ attention to the making of her great detective. A great length of the novel is spent in Dobbs childhood, when at the age of thirteen she becomes a maid for Lady Rowan Compton. During this point in her life she meets Maurice Blanche, who recognizes her innate intelligence and trains her for years in the skills of observation. Later, Dobbs becomes a field nurse during World War I and meets the love of her life, Simon. Once Winspear has built the foundation of Dobbs’ history, skills, and knowledge, she returns readers to the mystery at hand. This leisurely-paced novel manages to be all at once historical, romantic, nostalgic, and suspenseful as it follows the unforgettable Maisie Dobbs solve this mystery.

Feb 10, 2020

This is the first book in a very enjoyable series! I've read the whole series and really enjoyed them. Set in England after the first World War, these books combine the best of historical fiction and mystery genres! Maisie is intelligent and sensitive as she navigates a field dominated by men. The supporting characters are as likable as Maisie.

Jan 15, 2020

I thought this was a pretty good book, though it is clear that this first book is setting a foundation for a series with it's slow build and great deal of flashback history.

*small spoiler*

I thought the gradual reveal of a cult-like following of broken people drawn to a crazy man, quite relevant - with current events as well as foreshadowing to WWII.

IndyPL_RobinK Aug 20, 2019

This is obviously more of a character buildup than a well sustained story. It jumps back in time and, if you are a Downton Abbey fan, you see many things the author got wrong about being in service. Then the day to day life of a nurse near the front lines didn't really get deep enough to really explain what life was like other than she was cold. The book picked up once she went back to the original mystery and it ended well. Just had lots to slog through to get there.

Jul 15, 2019

All ready to get deep into a historical mystery, I picked up Maisie Dobbs by author Jacqueline Winspear. And in a strange turn of events, after getting more than 200 pages through it, I can't say I ever got a good grasp on it.

Maybe it's because my expectations were indeed built up to read a *mystery,* but the book has relatively little of that. The book cover and the initial dive into the case and investigation are essentially a smoke screen, suggesting something that only takes up a few pages of the novel before the story goes in an altogether different direction. And that different direction, for maybe more than half the novel, is the (back)story of Maisie, a coming of age and wartime tale that doesn't seem to have much to do with the mystery—whatever the mystery is, which must pick up somewhere in the final third of the book.

As for the coming of age and wartime tale, it gave me mild enjoyment and an emotional tug or two, but I often found it to be slow, cursory, and predictable, with nothing that really stood out to me. With only about 70 more pages to go (dense pages with rather tiny type), I just ran out of steam. Hence, whatever the real mystery is in this book, for me it shall remain a mystery.

But I do like Maisie: a smart, compassionate, discerning woman who maybe could use a compelling flaw or two to make her character more interesting, but at least she isn't syrupy or hyper-angelic. So while I didn't finish this book, I do plan on trying at least one more in the series. With the extended introduction of Maisie's character and background taken care of in this first novel, perhaps a following one will be heavier on the mystery side.

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Jul 27, 2014

LauraSteinert thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 12 and 99

May 12, 2010

johnson_3 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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Apr 14, 2012

"...It is interesting, Maisie, how a time of war can give a human being purpose. Especially when that purpose, that power, so to speak, is derived from something so essentially evil."


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