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January 13, 2011


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Julie P.

Here's the link to my review:

As I mentioned in my review, one of the things that I most enjoyed about this book was the character development of Maisie. I did enjoy the flashbacks and it did help me to understand Maisie's isolation. I think a huge part of Maisie's life was living between two social cultures and not really feeling as if she belonged in either one -- or was totally accepted in either one. I'm not entirely convinced that Maisie's isolation is because she believes that she doesn't fit in with people. I think Maisie has had a difficult life with lots of pain and disappointment, and I think she tries to protect herself -- she is afraid to make close connections because she keeps getting hurt. First she lost her mom, then her friend, and in a way the love of her life. I am very anxious to read the next book to see if she develops some closer relationships... or even a love interest. I'm hoping that her experiences in the first novel can serve as a way for her to move on.....

Dawn - She Is Too Fond of Books

I really appreciated the "cozy" aspect of MAISIE DOBBS, as I'm not big on gorey stories -- I think that makes it a more discussable book, too.

Fully half the book was that backstory (Maisie from 13 thru her time as a nurse); I loved that big chunk in the middle, and the way Winspear gave us Maisie's history bit-by-bit.

I wonder about Maisie's friendship with women. Aside from Cook and Lady Rowan, she doesn't have any women in her life (in the present day), although she fell in with women as she grew (Enid, Pris, the other nurses). She enjoyed the conversations she had w/Celia Davenham - is that a hint that she may be ready to develop friendships with women her own age (as equals)?

Yes! I do hope Winspear shows us more of the apprenticeship period! I marked several passages with Maurice's "words of wisdom" and want to know more about the time he spent sharing his wisdom with Maisie.

Haven't yet written a review for my blog, but I'll link back here when I do.

Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams

I found the flashbacks really interesting - but I think it was quite effective to give us Maisie's history bit by bit, rather than all at once. Perhaps more than most people, her past affects her present mood and work - and I'm also glad we didn't get all the sad war scenes at once.

I do enjoy "cozy" mysteries, though they're not always especially well written. However, this series is superbly written, and I appreciate Winspear's restraint in not giving us all the gory details of crime scenes.

Maisie's isolation makes me hurt for her - though I can understand her need to protect herself. I'm hoping she learns to open up again in later books, though it must also be difficult for her because she's caught between the "upstairs" and the "downstairs" world.

And yes, I was amazed to discover that Simon was alive. What a terrible fate for such a brave man! I've not yet lost hope of some restoration for him...though that may be just wishful thinking.

(I finished Pardonable Lies, the third book in the series, last night. I'm loving all of Maisie's adventures!)


It's funny I didn't really think of this as a cozy, I think maybe because Maisie is much more trained than your average cozy heroine.

My heart would break for Maisie as she lost each person who meant something to her. She does seem so isolated stuck somewhere between others not among them. I was surprised she hadn't visited Simon until that point in the story. I think it was such a reminder of her isolation, the one person she connected so deeply with now had no connection to her. Oh, poor Maisie.

I thought it was very interesting that Maisie would adopt the stance, walk, or mannerisms of the person she was interacted with to not only put them at ease but also to get into their state of mind.

Book Club Girl

Your cozy point is a good one. I've conferred with Jacqueline's editor and she also thinks the books have more edge (and war and violence, though it is admittedly, off the page) than the typical cozy mystery.


I found it interesting Maisie concerned all involved are healed and yet, she isn't healed at all. It will be fascinating to see how her healing progresses over the course of the series.


I really enjoyed this novel and can't wait to learn more about Maisie as the series continues.


I agree that these books have more of an edge than typically "cozy" mysteries. (I didn't know that term before--very interesting). Even though the crimes might not be described in great detail, the honesty with which the effects of the war treated lend a darkness. I love that element of the books and the way you learn more about its effects--on Maisie and England as a whole--as the books unfold.

I have always loved mysteries with a strong female lead, but this series is one of my favorites these days. I always recommend it to people.

nomadreader (Carrie)

I posted my review today ( I, too, was surprised to hear Maisie called a cozy. Perhaps because she's an investigator, it doesn't strike me as cozy, or perhaps I'm not giving cozies enough credit. I absolutely loved this book and the character of Maisie. I enjoyed the structuring, and I almost enjoyed the middle section most. I loved Maisie's unusual journey and appetite for reading and learning. In fact, I wish she would find time in the midst of her case to read more.

I was surprised to find Simon alive and look forward to seeing how Winspear treats him in future books.


I forgot to link my review here it is:
@ Hey, I want to read that


I agree about Maisie not really fitting with a "cozy". When I think of cozy I think Miss Marple or Miss Silver, older sleuths who just happen to have a flair for putting puzzles together.

My favorite section was also the backstory, I loved seeing how she got to be where she is and am sure that the later investigative education with Maurice will be covered in a future book.

I'm so happy to have started with this series, I read An Incomplete Revenge out of order last year (really HATE doing that!). I always feel like I have missed some important info...can't wait for book two!

Dawn - She Is Too Fond of Books

Oops, I started something by calling Maisie Dobbs a cozy! :) Let me clarify by saying that I appreciated knowing that the war was happening (for the most part) outside the reader's eyes ... we saw the after effects of injuries, heard stories of how men who fought felt when they were in the trenches, knew how it changed the dynamics of even the well-to-do (and wasn't it interesting that Lady Rowan didn't want her horses to be pulled by the services!), but, except for that abrupt pulling back after Simon says "Let's get on with it" in the triage tent, we're removed from seeing the war at its rawest.

Maybe I've mis-defined 'cozy' in my mind. Maisie is certainly not a doddering woman!

Book Club Girl

Don't worry Dawn, I started the cozy thread. I did some research and couldn't find another genre that fit as well, but I think I was a bit hasty in categorizing. I'm glad I conferred with her editor today on that point. And it does make me want to check out a strictly cozy mystery to see what the differences are.

for those who are interested in more, here are some definitions of mystery genres:

Martha - I love your point about how Maisie needs to heal as well. I'm interested to see how and if this is addressed in the future books.

And I love reading books this way, alongside all of you!


I read this when it first came out, I think based on a review in LJ, but possibly also just on the basis of the cover and blurb, and have been hooked on Maisie since. Now re-reading from beginning. I am struck by how nicely Downton Abbey on PBS shows a prewar view of the postwar setting we see in M.D.--the deteriorating class/domestic servant system. Maisie is a product of a unique time; her character develops as class barriers are just beginning to erode. There are references to her having a freedom of choice-- which her parents would not have had.


Janet, I have Downton Abbey DVR'ed but haven't watched it yet. I'll be interested in seeing it with Maisie in mind. Thanks for the connection. It is remarkable how the war changed so much on the home front.

Jen - Devourer of Books

I'm actually hoping for a bit less backstory in the next books. Maisie actually went a little slower than I expected, mostly because of all the necessary setup. I loved Maisie's character, though, and cannot wait to see how her story develops through the next books.


I think the term cozy mystery is broader than it used to be. I liked these books but I found her rapid point of view shifts to be very confusing and distracted from the story.


I'm afraid I wasn't able to reread in time for these questions; I lent MD to my neighbor and she hasn't quite gotten to it yet. I have the rest, though, and won't lend them out until this group read is finished!

So, a just a few random thoughts/responses from memory:

Aside from occasionally rereading Trixie Belden mysteries and loving Veronica Mars, I am not much of a mystery fan; I have no opinions on whether MD is "cozy" or not. I probably wouldn't have read it had it been too scary or full o' gore. I originally decided to read MAISIE DOBBS at the behest of a fellow Maud Hart Lovelace fan. We had been discussing WWI and the time leading up to it, as that is the era of the last two Betsy-Tacy books. My friend's description of MD convinced me to try it, as I have been fascinated by WWI since my trip to the Imperial War Museum in London several years ago. (I would have been just as happy reading a book just about Maisie's nursing during the war.)

I love what someone wrote about Maisie needing to heal, herself. Yes! She is damaged, hurt; she has the capacity to heal, though. Compare her to Simon, also injured in the war... as it stands at the end of MD, he does not seem able to heal. Very realistic, of course, but so, so sad.

I would definitely be interested in reading about Maurice and Maisie's time together.

Promise to be more prepared for Birds of a Feather!

Michelle B

I really liked Maisie Dobbs. I really liked the mid-point of the book where we got to go back and learn the history of Maisie - I think it really showed how 'damaged' she was by her mother's death and her perception of the abandonment by her father. I think that plays a large part in her isolation as an adult, as well as her straddling the two English classes.

I think Maisie's approach of mimicking of people's posture is quite interesting and incredible in finding out their emotions - - but her doing the picking up 'feelings' from murder scenes and peoples's belongings? A little far out there for me. Did this really occur back in this time frame?

I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series!

Marivonne Hyams

I loved the historical background. I'm very interested in the WWI and WWII periods and how people lived then and reacted to it. I think this author does an excellent job of making us feel the history she is telling us. I would love to see this in a TV series. I've been watching Downton Abbey and I agree that it's a good time to read these books and see that series because they cover the same period. I had already read a couple of Maise Dobbs books when I saw your post about the read-along, and I'm anxious to read all of them, even those I have already read.

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