Friday, September 29, 2006

'Maisie Dobbs' by Jacqueline Winspear

ISBN: 0142004332
Format: Paperback, 320pp
Publisher: Viking Penguin
Price: $14.00

Maisie Dobbs is the first in a series of private detective novels that take place after the First World War. This book takes place in 1929, with flashbacks to 1914 and the First World War. Maisie Dobbs is taken in by Lady Rowan, becoming a maid in her great house, setting the coal in the grates and polishing the mahogany until one day she is found by the mistress of the house reading in the library. She is a hungry learner and when Lady Rowan realizes it she finds her a tutor.

Maisie is at university when the war breaks. The people are hoping it will be over by Christmas, trying to ignore the horror of it all. Pricilla, Maisie’s school friend, joins the nurses who are going to be the ambulance drivers in France. She's leaving school early because she can’t sit at home when all three of her brothers are over there. She says, ‘Me too, me too.’

After a friend from working at Lady Rowan’s is killed when a munitions plant explodes, Maisie also signs up but then she falls in love with Dr. Simon Lynch. They have a few bright moments in the sun, glorious because you know they are so precious. He proposes and she asks him to ask her again when the war is over. Maisie just has this feeling that things might not go as planned. He says to her, ’I love you, Maisie, and I want you to be my wife. I promise that as soon as this war is over, I will walk across miles of trenches to find you, and I will stand there in my muddy clothes until you say ‘Yes!’.

Years later, after the war, Maisie has opened a private detective agency. She has a gift for reading people. She thus has to face the things from her past she has buried. The Great War and what the war left her with; she has to come to terms with what has happened to Simon and her love for him.

I enjoyed this book. It was well written and worth the read. It was a little choppy, the flow broken, but still well done, well researched, and I have to tell you I think I cried once every two chapters. It was very sad - the views of the war, the broken men with the broken families.

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