Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
Published by Penguin
From the publisher:
Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own natural 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.
The Maisie Dobbs series has been a favorite among book bloggers, which is why the first two books have been on my shelves for years. When I finally dug into the first installment, I could see why bloggers have been delighted by Maisie – I was definitely charmed by her intelligence and pluck – but at the same time, I was slightly underwhelmed by the overall experience of reading the novel.
The best way I can think to describe Maisie is a grown-up Nancy Drew. The mystery, while being of a serious nature, is relatively tame overall, and the plot and getting to the bottom of things isn’t very complex. Maisie is extremely smart, driven, and will do just about anything to get to the truth, and since the book has a historical setting, these qualities weren’t exactly encouraged in women at that time, making her even more fun to read about and get to know.
There’s a love story intertwined with the mystery, and I think that was a nice departure from the rest of the novel – Winspear struck a good balance between solving the mystery and giving the reader adequate insight into Maisie’s life before becoming a private investigator. The war setting is a compelling one, too, as we learn just how deeply Maisie and those around her were affected by it.
I think because I was expecting a lot from this novel, it didn’t quite live up to what I was hoping for. But I still enjoyed Maisie Dobbs and will probably continue with the series. I think as I get to know the character of Maisie, her story and the mysteries she solves might become more compelling.