Maisie Dobbs


Title: Maisie Dobbs

Author: Jacqueline Winspear

Genre: Mystery–Historical

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 294

Geographical Setting: London

Time Period: WWI-era England

Series (If applicable): Maisie Dobbs

Plot Summary: Intelligent, spunky Maisie Dobbs deals with “discreet investigations” for a living in London just after World War I.  Her first case appears to be a run of the mill infidelity matter but leads her to the Retreat, something of a convalescent home and monastery combined, and elevates the mystery to a higher level.  As the mystery unfolds, so does Maisie’s personal history, from working as a servant in a grand household, to her education encouraged and supported by Lady Rowan, to her time spent on the front as nurse during World War I.  Mystery, history, war and romance are woven together in this upbeat and engaging read.

Subject Headings: The Teens (20th Century); Women detectives; Extramarital relations; Domestic workers; Nurses; Human nature; Women psychologists; The Twenties (20th century); Psychologiest-detectives; Murder; World War I veterans; World War I; Dobbs, Maisie; Housekeepers.

Appeal: compelling; easy; relaxed; comfortable; compassionate; poignant; upbeat; engaging; series (characters); strong secondary characters; character-centered; richly detailed; historical details; accessible; engaging; unpretentious; well-plotted; compelling;

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character-driven; engaging; strong woman protagonist

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell.  This memoir of a “affecting portrait of a vital, intelligent young woman“ (Kirkus) details the author’s time in service as a kitchen maid in 1920s England. Readers might enjoy reading about what Maisie’s life may have been like had Lady Rowan not encouraged Maisie’s education.

Elsie and Mairi Go to War: Two Extraordinary women on the Western Front. Elsie Knocker and Mairi Gooden-Chisholm, like Maisie, are courageous, intelligent and unconventional women who set up an aid station on the Western Front.  Readers who enjoyed Maisie Dobbs may also enjoy this true account of spunky nurses during World War I.

The Great Silence: Britain from the shadow of the First World War to the dawn of the Jazz Age by Juliet Nicolson.  Readers who appreciated the details of Britain during the World War I era in Maisie Dobbs may appreciate this social history of the first two years in Britain following World War I.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming.  This first novel in mystery series also features a strong, smart, independent woman protagonist who is war veteran.  Though In the Bleak Midwinter takes place in the US after the Iraq War, this compelling story also offers a strong sense of place that readers may have enjoyed in Maisie Dobbs.

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd. Like Maisie, the main character in this mystery series is a strong, resourceful and self-sufficient woman serving as a British nurse during World War I.  The only difference between this character-driven, compelling mystery series and Maisie Dobbs is that the mysteries take place during the Great War.

Alfred and Emily by Doris May Lessing.  Half fiction and half memoir, Alfred and Emily opens with a novella that imagines what life for her parents would have been like if World War I had never happened.  Fans of Maisie Dobbs may be interested in an idea of what Britain would have been like if WWI never happened.

Name: Ally C.



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