Review: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

April 7, 2014 2014, A-, Audiobook Challenge, book rating, reviews, TBR Pile 10

I’m participating in the 2014 New Author Reading Challenge hosted at the Literary Escapism blog. I’m also participating in the TBR Pile Challenge hosted at the Bookish blog and in the Book Bingo Challenge. This is an audiobook so this is also part of the Audiobook Challenge hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs.

maisie-dobbsMaisie Dobbs
by Jacqueline Winspear
Narrator: Rita Barrington
Series: Maisie Dobbs, Book 1
Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by Soho Press, 2003
E-book and Audiobook, Purchased
294 pages (10 hrs.)
Book Grade: A-
Narrator Grade: A-

Synopsis: Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own maisie-dobbs-bknatural intelligence — and the patronage of her benevolent employers — she works her way into college at Cambridge.

When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.

“Truth walks toward us on the paths of our questions.” Maurice’s voice once again echoed in her mind. “As soon as you think you have the answer, you have closed the path and may miss vital new information. Wait awhile in the stillness, and do not rush to conclusions, no matter how uncomfortable the unknowing.”


“Stay with the question. The more it troubles you, the more it has to teach you. In time, Maisie, you will find that the larger questions in life share such behavior.”

What worked for me:

  • Maisie is a wonderful character. The book is a mystery, but it’s also Maisie coming to terms with her life and her past.
  • This is such a powerful book. For me the middle part–about the WWI was very strong. So heartbreaking to read (hear) about. It made me think about our America’s time in Afghanistan.
  • The middle part of the book goes back to the time Maisie is 12 years old to the time she’s grown up and during the war years of WWI. I don’t normally like flashbacks, but this takes up much of the book. It’s very absorbing and often horrific and sad during the war years.
  • The book is a mystery, but it is more than a mystery. It’s also a character study.
  • I like the narrator of the audiobook. Even though she’s British and I sometimes have trouble understanding British English Ms. Barrington’s narration is excellent. She’s able to create the different characters, dialects and voices.
  • The narrator sings fragments of songs such as “It’s a long way to Tipperary.” Very nice.
  • A lovely, wonderful story.
  • The book did have flashbacks to her early years and WWI and these parts are important to the plot and to understanding Maisie.

What didn’t work:

  • I can’t think of anything!

My thoughts:

I’ve had the paper book for a number of years and hadn’t read it. I bought the Kindle book almost a year ago and hadn’t read it. Finally, I bought the Audible edition of the book in February and listened (read) this book. I’m so happy I finally read this book and I’m counting it as part of my TBR books since I’ve had so many versions for so long!

I bought the second book in the series and hope to read it soon. I like Maisie Dobbs very much!

Have you read this book or others in the series?


10 Responses to “Review: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear”

  1. Lark

    So glad you loved this! I did too. I really need to get back to reading the series; I bogged down somewhere in book 3 when I was needing much lighter fare for a bit, and never picked it up again.

    And I didn’t know you’d been in Afghanistan! (Some Sherlock Holmes I am, huh?) Were you there during the war, or before it? It sounds like during… which must have been rough.
    Lark recently posted…“The Yarn Spinner” by Deborah Smith (short story)My Profile

    • Jan

      I’m sorry, Lark…I went back and read my statement about Afghanistan and realize it does read like I’ve been there. 🙁 Actually, it should have read more like the “U.S. time in Afghanistan”(not that I’m speaking for our whole country…LOL). Our daughter was in Afghanistan while she was in the Army (and Iraq and Qatar). So glad she’s out of the Army now.

      (On a sidenote I can see Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell in Afghanistan during the time period they were in Palestine!)

      …I’m going to fix that statement now!
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  2. Li

    Hey Jan – welcome back!

    I agree this was a very powerful story – she really brought WWI and post-War London to life. I think this was one of the strongest books in the series – I haven’t loved the later books as much, but usually look out for the latest release in the library.
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  3. Greg

    I have not read Maisie Dobbs but I’ve been thinking about trying them. I’ve been really enjoying historical fiction and mysteries lately, especially those set in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, so this would probably fit the bill. An audio of this might be a way to go, it might be neat to hear “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” and things like that.

    Thanks for the review!
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