Friday, July 13, 2012

Nice to Meet You, Maisie Dobbs

Ever since I'd heard that Maisie Dobbs was a post-WWI, London-based sleuth (of sorts) written on a more literary level, my curiosity was roused.  One of my book groups ended up reading it together (met earlier this week - book club outside by the pool, how fun is that?) and it was all I'd hoped it would be and more.  (Actually, it was all I'd hoped Mr. Churchill's Secretary would be, which made it all the better.)

Although much of the book takes place a good decade after WWI ended, the story revolves around the war and its after-effects.  I love reading about this era.  Talk about generation shaping - the thought of shell-shocked young men roaming the streets of London at night, trying to come to terms with the war, and this: "Like many young women who came of age in the years 1914-18, Iris had no husband, for her sweetheart had been lost in the war."  Gives my heart an insta-ache.  I can't even imagine, yet I long to understand.

Maisie Dobbs is a great example of what a literary mystery can be.  There is history, real characters, more than one line of  suspense, paired with good writing and a touch of introspection.  A book needn't be poorly written to have a good storyline.  What makes this discovery even more intriguing is the fact that it is the first in a series.  I generally don't think very highly of books that are drawn out into series, simply because they typically feel to be just that: one story that is drawn out for no good reason.  I hate feeling like I need to read the next book just to find out what happens. But here, for the first time in recent history, I've found a book that actually makes me think I could keep reading the series and not risk disappointment.  Maybe because it is a character/era driven series instead of a plot driven series?  I don't know, but I'm on board.  Birds of a Feather is #2 and on its way to my shelf, one way or another.

Reading Maisie Dobbs also stirred up all those sympathies and feelings about the dreadful ramifications of the Great War that left me feeling pangs of want for A Long, Long Way by Sebastian Barry.  It hasn't even been a full year since I read it, and I don't often reread a book, but I need this one like I need a good long visit with an old friend.  Thank you, Ms. Dobbs (& Ms. Winspear) for the experience, it was nice to meet you.

12 comments:

  1. Yea! This is such a great series. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's definitely one to suck you in, particularly with the time period.

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    1. I do love the time period! The first three decades of the 20th century are a fascinating combination of traditional and modern. I love the glimpses of that transition.

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  2. This sounds great! I'd been debating taking this book vs Mr Churchill's Secretary with me on vacation and opted for the latter because it was newer and thus it would be a book I could introdce to my customers. Sounds like I made the wrong decision, though admittedly I enjoyed the book.

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    1. You never know...could be even the mood I was in, you know? I enjoyed Churchill while reading, but it left me wishing the characters had been fleshed out more. I'm looking forward to seeing your response to Maisie.

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  3. I stalled out about 3 or 4 into the series. I can't remember where I left off and I don't want to re-read and that keeps me from trying again. Weird, I know.

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    1. That makes total sense to me. In fact, that was one of the first reasons I began disliking books in a series. I should have figured that you'd know all about Maisie Dobbs...you're just cool like that. :)

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  4. This sounds like a great read!
    I've recently started reading mystery (Agatha Christie does fall into that, right?) and have become a big fan.
    Looks like I know what my next book buy will be :)

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    1. I've only read one Agatha Christie but I loved it! I really should pick up another. When I was a girl I looooved Nancy Drew (which were the only mystery books I knew about) but anymore I'm just afraid they won't have enough character development or good writing or SOMETHING to make me love it other than just the plot. This one did slow down in the middle, as it went back and filled in her younger years, but it worked for me.

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  5. Hooray for Maisie! I'm so glad you enjoyed her. I'm a huge fan of the series, and I'll look forward to your continued adventures with Maisie.

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    1. I'm so glad that I've got a good number of books in the series to look forward to. It's been a long time since I've been excited about a series!

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  6. I'm always happy to find another Maisie Dobbs fan. She is my comfort read :-) I'm sure you will enjoy her other stories as well.

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    1. I keep thinking about her! I need to pick up #2. :)

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