Wednesday, August 30, 2006

[Book Review] MAISIE DOBBS by Jacqueline Winspear

Fiction/ Genre: Mystery

Clare Coffey reviews MAISIE DOBBS: A Novel by Jacqueline Winspear (Soho Press, 2003):

Maisie Dobbs is a young woman from a poor family who steps beyond the limitations of her life in English society before and after World War I. Following her mother's death, 13-year-old Maisie's father arranges a position for her as a maid in a fine London home. Her exceptional intelligence is recognized by her employer, Lady Rowan, and a highly regarded psychologist, Maurice Blanche. Together they propel Maisie into a world that she would never have imagined possible. She is able to receive tutoring and attend a women’s college, virtually unheard of for women, much less a poor girl. Like many patriotic young women, Maisie learns true compassion and the horror of war as a battlefield nurse. It is also under this circumstance that she finds true love. These experiences provide the background for her keen intelligence and professionalism in a society just beginning to accept women in non-traditional roles. The book opens in 1929 with Maisie at work as a private investigator on her first case. Under the tutorship of Maurice, one clue leads to another, and she is able to protect those who deserve it and prosecute those who need it.

Maisie Dobbs was the author's first book. Since then, she has written Birds of a Feather and Pardonable Lies, which feature Maisie, her assistant Billy, and the consultation of her elderly father, Lady Rowan, and Maurice Blanche.

Clare Coffey, Humanities Department


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