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March 27, 2011

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Julie P.

I still need a copy of this book for our next discussion!

Now to AMONG THE MAD:

1) I really enjoyed AMONG THE MAD because it was so different than the other books. While it still encompassed everything I've come to love about the Maisie books, I liked the pace of this story -- it was more urgent.

2) I didn't mark any particular passages, but I do remember this one sticking out to me. It really sums up not only Maisie and one of the themes of the story, but also so many of the war victims' mentalities.

3) I don't remember that, but I have to wonder if that storyline will come to play in a future book. It seems like everything the author puts into these books is so deliberate!

4) I liked him and I thought he was more complex and well-developed than Stratton. Maisie's behavior around him kind of surprised me a bit too. I am not hoping that she becomes romantically involved with him (instead of Stratton) because I think it would be more interesting.

5) I sure hope so! Maisie needs some fun and even romance in her life. She does appear to be kicking back more and more in the books -- especially when it comes to dancing. I admit that I was surprised to see her "force" herself to attend two social outings in this story. I think she knows that she has to make the effort with people and we're starting to see the effects of that.

6) The entire Beale saga is breaking my heart. I just want something to go right for them. We've had three out of six books now where they've had to deal with some very serious problems. While I love Billy and don't want to see him go to Canada, I think it might be best for his family.

3)

pearl

This book would be greatly appreciated for the discussion. Thanks.

Trish

I still need this book for the discussion ... thank you for introducing Maisie Dobbs to me!!

Martha@Hey, I want to read that

1) I can't keep saying "this is my favorite so far" or people will stop believing me. But they just keep getting better. I loved that Jacqueline mixed up a little.

2) My favorite lines happen mid-way when Maisie says "Come on, Richard, you know he's wrong. Even he knows he's wrong." and Stratton responds "Stop, wait, please, Maisie." They're not classic lines but it's the first break in their relationship where we see maybe there will be more between the two.

3) I vaguely remember in the beginning of Pardonable Lies when Maisie is speaking to the young girl in the police station (I can't remember her name) the female police officer either thought or said she knew Maisie from lectures she gave during training.

4) I loved MacFarlane was able to break through Maisie's professional shell loosen her up some. While I don't know if I'm completely against it (I pretty much Team Stratton) I think he'll do Maisie a lot of good. And may even push her towards Stratton (it's because of him they called each other by their first names.)

5)I love Priscilla. I think she's so good for Maisie and she such a great character. I also love that we got to see more than just party, happy girl, Pris. I think we'll definitely see a more social Maisie, ( I love that Maisie's taking up photography).

6)The Beale's saga is breaking my heart. They just can't seem to catch a break. I'm hoping we see some improvement in Doreen and I'm really hoping something wonderful happens in their life to keep them in London. I worry in each new book this will be the one where they leave.

I'm amazed at Winspears ability to keep the same formula that has worked so well and yet is able to change things up enough to keep it fresh. Another winner.

I could us a review copy if they're available but have no problem if I'm too late.

Thanks for this wonderful discussion. One of the things adding to the enjoyment of this series is knowing I get to talk about it and read other great insight.

Word Lily

1. I, too, really enjoyed Among the Mad. I can't quite place it above the previous book at this point, though.

2. That quote is excellent, yes!

3. Didn't she, in Messenger of Truth, give the female detective at the party a few pointers? And she also may have talked about something along the lines of training for the women with Stratton later in the book, too ...

4. MacFarlane is an interesting character and, yes, a bit of a match for Maisie. I'm still not quite sure what to think of him, though. He seemed to run a bit hot and cold.

6. So very heartbreaking, yes. I, too, just wish *something* would go right for them. But the contrast between _what is_, for the Beales, and what they could be experiencing, if not for Maisie, is also stark. That family ties Maisie down, in a good way. It gives her a pulse on that very populated segment of the city.

Darsa

1) I loved this one... I think it is in my top three faves. At first the bits from Oliver's perspective were a little jarring, and I wonder if the story really needed them... but I think maybe they did add to the urgency of the story.

2) Yes! I took notice of that line... but what I dog-eared was the part about Maisie saying she had only know true evil two times in her life- both times in her work with Maurice. I'd LOVE to hear more about THAT.

3) I think it was mentioned in passing in another book, though I can't remember which one.

4) I love Scots in general... he was a fun character.

5) When I first read this book, I remember being so relieved at the end when Maisie ends up going to Pricilla's party. Finally, she's choosing to live... loved the part on pages 142-143 about her "tentative returning spirit."

6) Pricilla, Doreen, even Maisie... all with varying degrees of emotional turmoil... I like how Winspear wove the theme of "madness" throughout the story and one could see how everyone can be susceptible to it and those that have the right kind of help available to them can overcome it. Those that are less fortunate... they don't have caring family/friends/resources and end up broken. Tragic... especially when men and women are physically and emotionally damaged by their involvement in wars and then aren't given proper treatment upon return.

Jen - Devourer of Books

1) To accurately portray how I felt I would need a great number of hearts and exclamation points, but let's say that it took me from really liking the series to adoring it.

2) That line made me want to give Maisie a hug for all the things she has to remember, and/or high five her for her cool comportment in the wake of something so terrible.

3) I don't think we've actually seen much of this, like her clients to whom she is only a therapist, but I think it has been referenced in an earlier book.

4) MacFarlane was an interesting foil for Maisie. His familiarity with Maurice and his methods made him less likely to be cowed/intimidated/threatened by Maisie than some of the other men around her.

5) I hope we see a more social Maisie, I feel like she is becoming a better balanced human being, which will make her more interesting and quite likely better at her work.

6) I'm so impressed with the way Winspear tied this 3-book (so far) subplot into her primary plot in all three books, while maintaining a reasonable arc for the storyline. It is here, and has been, completely heartbreaking, but also leaves me admiring how Winspear has such a tightly plotted, well connected series without making things seem too pat.

Katie

This book really creeped me out...I have trouble reading about mentally disturbed people. It was brilliantly done, though.

The Beales' story is breaking my heart, as others have said. I'm longing for them to catch a break...though I don't want them to go off to Canada.

I liked MacFarlane, though I appreciated that Maisie kept her distance - she has worked hard to earn recognition at the Yard, among men, and she's not likely to be too casual too soon. (Still curious as to what, if anything, will happen between Maisie and Stratton...)

Patti O

Here's my review from Goodreads:
"This is a brilliant title in the Maisie Dobbs series. There seems to be a lot of growth with Maisie in this book, both professionally and personally. On both fronts, she becomes more open to being with others. She is asked to assist Scotland Yard in a case, and learns to work with a team. Part of the case involves investigating shell-shock victims who have been placed in asylums, and Maisie also looks into asylums as her assistant's wife is placed in one. Personally, she realizes that she doesn't quite want to spend as much time alone as she has for years. She reaches out to her friend Priscilla, and also develops an interest in photography.

All of the above doesn't quite show how intelligent this book is. Highly recommended!"
1) 5 Stars, but I don't know that it's my favorite of the series.
2)I don't have a favorite line, though I like your choice.
3)Yes I was surprised that Maisie had helped train women detectives; I didn't recall that from previous books. I'm reading them almost back-to-back.
4)I think MacFarlane has some of Maisie's skills, especially that of observation, and could definitely be a match for her in detective/crimesolving work. I'm not sure of him as a romantic interest.
5)I think Maisie will become more social. It will be good for her, as well as her work.
6)I agree with others here, the Beales deserve a break, but (selfishly) I don't want them to move to Canada either. I'm looking forward to seeing how this evolves, hopefully without more stress on their family!

Julia - pagesofjulia

My complete review: http://pagesofjulia.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/among-the-mad-by-jacqueline-winspear/

1. Actually, sorry to say, this was perhaps the least exciting Maisie book to me. I did appreciate the suspense and intrigue, certainly, and I think she left some mystery right up til the end, more so than usual. I didn’t hate it; I did enjoy it. But, I was a bit disappointed to see Winspear using the very same formula for this novel that I feel we’ve seen several times over by now. I’m hoping for a change-up in the plot lines.
3. No, I don’t remember her training any female detectives, but neither am I surprised. I’m okay with Winspear filling us in on action we missed between books in this way.
4. I love MacFarlane! I have always found Stratton to be a bit flat and I think MacFarlane may be a match for her in several ways, and I can’t wait to see more of him.
5. I’m still hoping for an expanding, opening-up Maisie.
6. On this, as on all points, please do see my post in which I address most of these points; but in short, I definitely feel the Beale family’s drama is one of the more appealing sideplots in this series. I’m pulling for them.

Thanks for this readalong, it's been so fun!!

Julia - pagesofjulia

Curiously, check out this blog post too: http://danitorres.typepad.com/workinprogress/2011/03/return-of-the-soldier-revisited.html about a novel with a similar subject. Sounds interesting.

Michelle B

1) I really liked this book. Somehow I didn't think of terrorism in the 30's in the UK. I felt like this was the fastest paced book - I know I stayed up late reading and finished the most quickly of the 6 books.

2) This line caught my attention also. I think Maisie thinks a lot about the past, some of it unconsciously.

3) I don't remember Maisie training other women.

5) Since I'm already done with the next book, I shouldn't answer this .... I had been pacing myself with the books, but this weekend I couldn't wait and had to read the next one.

6) The death of Lizzie was so sad. Thank goodness the treatment of mental illness has come so far in the past 80 years! I forsee the Beales making the move to Canada in the future, I just hope that Maisie has someone to work with her in her office before they go.

M Denise C

1. I thought Among the Mad brought highlighted so much that is still relevant today in our world: post traumatic stress, poor health care for veterans, suicide bombing, and lack of quality state mental health facilities versus private ones. I have trouble choosing a favorite because each book is unique and tackles different issues.

2.I don’t have a favorite, but remember that line about forgetting and remembering. Here is an example of why I like Ms. Winspear’s writing and can relate to Maisie:

“Most of the time, though, she was not lonely, just on her own, an unmarried woman of independent means, even when the extent of the means—or lack therof—sometimes gave her cause to remain awake at night. She knew the worries that comes to the fore at night were the ones you had to pay attention to, for they blurred reasoned thought, sucked clarity from any consideration of one’s situation, and could lead a mind around in circles, leaving one drained and ill-tempered. And if there was no one close with whom to discuss those concerns, they grew in importance in the imagination, whether they were rooted in good sense or not.”

3.Yes, I remember this being mentioned. Wasn’t one of the female detectives at a party or something?

4. MacFarlane seems very brash and cocky (even when he doesn’t need to be). I like how he realizes Maisie’s value and lets her have her freedom, knowing she works better that way. He’s fun to watch (read about).

5. As Maisie recovers from her own traumatic war issues, she seems like she will be more social. She cannot keep to herself all the time.

6. At least there have been many advances in electroshock therapy currently. I just found out that one of my great great grandmothers shot herself after the loss of her 7-year-old little girl.

Diane (bookchickdi)

1. I really liked this novel as well. It seemed less static than some of the others, there was more dramatic tension.
My review is here: http://bit.ly/gyMOgx

2. I highlighted this line as well. I think that the memories of war will continue to haunt Maisie, just as they do anyone who has experienced them. I think that part of the these books resonate with people today who have dealt with war.

3. I seem to remember mention in a previous novel of Maisie training female detectives, though I can't recall which one and now it is bothering me. I like how Winspear throws in these small details.

4. The MacFarlane-Maisie dynamic is very interesting. He gets under her skin, and her snarkiness with him is amusing. In most of Maisie's interactions with others, she seems to have the upper hand, but MacFarlane keeps her a little off balance. I'd like to see more of this in future novels.

5. I love Maisie with Pris, I agree she needs more friends. I was hoping that maybe Beattie the reporter would make another appearance; she and Maisie would be good as colleagues and friends.

6. Billy and his family are an integral part of these books, and I like how Winspear shows the other side of London; how poverty affects lives. It is a good contrast to Maisie and Lady Rowan's lifestyles. The asylum storyline was heartbreaking, and so realistic.

Pam (@iwriteinbooks)

1) I know this was my favorite so far of the series - how did you feel overall about Among the Mad?
Goodness, yes! This was, by far, my favorite. I’m not sure that it really tops Messenger of Truth in all aspects but for the subject matter and the activity involved, I just loved this. It was fast, interesting, fun and smart. Billy’s family got some great play time and Pris was back on the scene in a major way. I loved that Maisie was “one of the guys” and not just a female protégé, if that makes any sort of clear distinction.
2) My favorite line in the novel was this one, delivered by Maisie to Stratton after the explosion on Christmas Eve: "Forgetting has never been of concern to me, Inspector. It's the remembering that gives me pause." Did you have a favorite, or how did you feel about this line?
I loved, loved that line. Maisie, in the first few books, was not always as witty and/or funny as I thought suited her smarts but, one of the reasons I loved this section of the series was for that reason. In my review, I mentioned that I thought she reminded me much more of Cassie, Frank or Rob from Tana French’s crime novels, this time around, and the funniness was, I think, what did it.
3) Perhaps I missed something, but was anyone else surprised to find out, when Stratton is talking to Maisie about why she's needed on this particular case, that she has helped train detectives? "Your contribution to the training of our women detectives [at the Yard] has not gone unnoticed." Does anyone remember this from one of the earlier books? I guess I didn’t read this, literally. I think I took it to mean that the boys at the yard, after meeting and working with Maisie, have been, over the past few years, much more in tune and aware of, sadly, the benefits of widening the gene pool on the force. This probably was in reference to Maisie’s exceptional skills in the area people didn’t, a decade before, think to look when women were concerned but also, simply the time changing with so many men off to war or damaged due to battle.
4) It seemed to me that with MacFarlane (perhaps more so than with Stratton), Maisie may have met her match. I loved the scene where he called her on her habit of mirroring another person's movements to make them more comfortable and likely to talk. It was nice to see someone figuring out her tricks - so that she has to raise her game. What did you think of MacFarlane?
Again, this reminded me of French. If Maisie is Cassie and Rob is Stratton, McFarlane is, far and away, Frank. For those who haven’t read French, it’s basically that while Stratton is smart and sweet, MacFarlane’s more brash with balls but he does, eventually get things moving in A direction. I think he and Maisie tend to act with a great deal of intuition but not always a lot of reserve which, hey, is how I tend to roll. Can’t complain about it, to be honest! I definitely found myself enjoying his addition tom the team and though I’ll always have a soft spot for Stratton, I think that I just found a new love.
5) I was glad that Priscilla was more a part of this novel, and glad to see that Maisie is expanding her social world and putting herself out there, even socializing with the detectives at the Yard. Do you think we'll see a more social Maisie in future books?
I hope so. I love Pris and I’ve always found Maisie to be a bit of a savant stick in the mud even though she’s perfectly lovely. I know, tell us how you really feel. ;O)
6) The subplot surrounding Billy Beale and his wife is heartbreaking. It was interesting to see how the treatment of Mrs. Beale mirrored that of the asylum inmates who were injured by the war. I was glad that Maisie was able to help -- lord knows what would happen to most women of Mrs. Beale's station without the intervention of someone like Maisie -- and I hope that we see some hopeful resolution there soon.
I’ve always been interested in the advancement (or in the old days, lack thereof) of mental health issues. Doreen’s status and treatment were, indeed, heart breaking. I can only say that I’m glad this sort of thing is not the norm, today., thank goodness!

Ann

If you still have a copy of the book, I'd love to have it. I'm loving the Maisie series.

Thanks!

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