My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Equal parts love story, mystery, and historical fiction, Maisie Dobbs follows the adventures of a clever woman set on making her way in the business of sleuthing. Little Maisie gets her start as a maid in wealthy home, but as soon as the Lady of the house realizes the potential of the girl cleaning her fireplace, she becomes a benefactor in Maisie’s education.
Thanks to natural smarts and dedicated study, Maisie works her way into Cambridge University where she excels. However, the call of duty to the French battlefields of World War I sends Maisie on a different course. She steps away from university and serves as a nurse to wounded soldiers fresh from the trenches. The brutality and horror of war will weigh heavy on her long after she returns home. Especially, since her time on the war front is linked with memories of her first love.
To her credit, Maisie returns to Cambridge and finishes her studies after the war. Thanks to her childhood tutor and clever wit, she jumps right into the business of private investigating. One of Maisie’s first cases leads to a mystery involving the death of a wounded World War I veteran, which naturally dredges up many horrific memories. Despite her own demons, Maisie works relentlessly on the case with her own brand of deduction and fact-finding. This is one tough woman and it takes more than a murderer and wartime memories to scare her away from sniffing out the truth.
Jacqueline Winspear deserves huge kudos for enlivening early 20th Century London with so much detail. The same is true for the characters she creates as they feel so real their pulses practically bounce across the page. Maisie herself exudes incredible spirit and determination, but her pain is also quite palpable when it comes to all she’s endured in her young life.
Maisie Dobbs is a great read for anyone who loves a strong female character and historical escape mixed with a little romance and intriguing mystery.
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