Saturday, February 21, 2015

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

 Jacqueline Winspear has been writing Maisie Dobbs's mysteries for over ten years, but I have just now stumbled upon these quiet thoughtful mysteries set in Post-WWI England.  Maisie, who had served as a very young nurse during the Great War, has now hung out her shingle as a psychologist and investigator.  Quite the combination, isn't it?  Well, Maisie, herself, is a unique combination, as the first novel, which bears her name, reveals.  With a father who works as a vegetable seller, Maisie's modest upbringing and entry into servitude reminds me of the downstairs of Downton Abbey.  When her keen observation skills and compelling intelligence are noticed, and she is given a chance to study, it appears that the lines of class distinction may indeed be erased for Maisie.  More opportunities arise, but then the war arrives. Life after the war in England is a time of great adjustment and change.  

Winspear has wonderfully revealed in this first novel the back story which led to Maisie's education and her relationship with hercherished mentor Maurice at the same time immersing the reader in Maisie's first solo investigative case.  What seems to be a possible infidelity case instead leads Maisie into an investigation of a  remote country refuge for wounded war veterans.

That decade of great social change that followed Great Britain's painful sacrifices of WWI must continue to interest readers as shown by Winspear's successful series which now numbers ten titles.
If you think that the setting may be a little too old fashioned and slow for you, I encourage you to give at least one book a chance.  Good writers always seem to be able to make us think about our own world, no matter what the setting.  Winspear did that for me, with this observation, meant to describe England in 1929, but certainly fitting for today:  ...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. 

I found MAISIE DOBBS through our library system and plan to read more of the series.

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