Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Maisie Dobbs and A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear

Hello All,

Thanks to Book Club Girl I reread and read my way through the intelligent, emotional, interesting and wonderful Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear these past 6 months.

Maisie Dobbs is a woman who was born into the poorer part of London, and after the loss of her mother around age 12 or 13, she chose to go into service. She became a housemaid for the wealthy Compton family. Maisie is discovered in their library, reading before beginning her early and long day; the Comptons take her under their wing, and help her gain the education she so desires. They also introduced her to Maurice Blanche, a consultant for governments and others; also a teacher and psychiatrist. He teaches Maisie how to read people, how to truly listen, and to trust her instincts. After "doing her bit" as a nurse in France in the Great War, Maisie finishes college, becomes an assistant to Maurice, and eventually opens her own private investigation office.

Maisie and her assistant Billy Beale take on a variety of cases, many of which involve Maisie's skills in their entirety--her reading of people, her deductive skills, and her ability to listen to what people are really saying.

The series is best read in order:
1. Maisie Dobbs (2003)
2. Birds of a Feather (2004)
3. Pardonable Lies (2005)
4. Messenger of Truth (2006)
5. An Incomplete Revenge (2008)
6. Among the Mad (2009)
7. The Mapping of Love and Death (2010)
8. A Lesson in Secrets (2011)

A Lesson in Secrets was very kindly sent to me for review by HarperCollins. This titles brings all of Maisie's skills into play, including those of going undercover as a philosophy professor at a small university in Cambridge for one reason, and then solving a murder that takes place while she's there. As this book takes place in 1932, Germany is beginning to show its true colors as the Nazis take power. The possibility of war is still far over the horizon, but there is foreshadowing that makes you really care for these characters and their future. Students at Maisie's university show interest in pacifism, communism and facism, which play a strong part in the plot of A Lesson in Secrets.

I can't recommend this series highly enough. I learned many things reading these books, not only about post World War One England, but about people; Jacqueline Winspear does this very well. Maisie Dobbs is an intelligent, intuitive woman, someone who I'd be glad to know.

Happy Reading!

A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear HarperCollins ISBN 9780061727672

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