Brief synopsis (Goodreads): 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.
Rating: Travel companion
Long story short (no spoilers): I first read this book when I was in high school. I remember really enjoying it, so it was a little bit of a surprise that I didn’t feel the same way this time around.
What I liked:
1. The protagonist, Maisie, is a complex character that grows throughout the course of the book.
2. The story/plot is original and interesting: it features a female lead in a non-traditional profession during a time when that was very uncommon, and it has a good amount of intrigue and the mystery is set up fairly well.
What I didn’t like:
1. The pacing is bad. The story starts off in the present, then spends a good chunk of time in the past via flashback, then it’s back to the present, then the past again, and finally the present. The back-and-forth didn’t let me fully immerse myself in the story.
2. Dialogues between characters seem awkward, forced, and sometimes superficial. Even those between Maisie and the 2-3 people she’s closest to lack depth.
3. Aside from Maisie, none of the other characters were fleshed out completely. It felt like their descriptions and actions barely scratched the surface.
I think that the first time I picked up Maisie Dobbs I hadn’t found many books I liked that featured strong female leads, so I was especially drawn to this one. After having read other similar books, this doesn’t seem like the best representation of that category. I do own at least the next two books in this series though, so will be continuing my way through unless they turn out to be really bad.
Have you read Maisie Dobbs or other books by Winspear? What did you think?