I can't believe we've come to the end of our Maisie Dobbs Read-Along with today's discussion of A Lesson in Secrets, the eighth book (so far!) in Jacqueline Winspear's amazing Maisie Dobbs series. I have enjoyed these books so much - and I have learned a lot from reading them. And I've loved reading them with all of you--we'll have to think of what to read together again very soon. And while today we discuss the newest book in the series, our journey isn't really over until tomorrow night, Tuesday, April 26th, when we'll be joined on Book Club Girl on Air by none other than Jacqueline Winspear herself to ask her questions about Lesson and all the books in the series.
A Lesson in Secrets (from Jacqueline Winspear's website):
In the summer of 1932, Maisie Dobbs's career takes an exciting new turn when she accepts an undercover assignment directed by Scotland Yard's Special Branch and the Secret Service. Posing as a junior lecturer, she is sent to a private college in Cambridge to monitor any activities, "not in the interests of His Majesty's Government."
When the college's controversial pacifist founder and principal, Greville Liddicote, is murdered, Maisie is directed to stand back as Detective Chief Superintendent Robert MacFarlane and Detective Chief Inspector Richard Stratton spearhead the investigation. She soon discovers, however, that the circumstances of Liddicote's death appear inextricably linked to the suspicious comings and goings of faculty and students under her surveillance.
To unravel this web, Maisie must overcome a reluctant Secret Service, discover shameful hidden truths about Britain's conduct during the Great War, and face off against the rising powers of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei the Nazi Party—in Britain.
As the storm clouds of World War II gather on the horizon, this pivotal chapter in the life of Maisie Dobbs foreshadows new challenges and powerful enemies facing the psychologist and investigator.
1) In this book Maisie truly goes undercover for the first time, for an extended length of time. What did you think of this new type of assignment for Maisie?
2) The fascist and anti-Semitic sentiments that we began to see in the earlier novels really comes to a head in this book as the Nazi party's increasing influence in England becomes apparent. What did you think of Maisie's involvement in this larger canvas of investigative work?
3) I was heartened to read, at the beginning of the novel, that James Compton was still very much in Maisie's life, though I missed him not being in the novel itself. What do we think is in store for the couple?
4) Maisie seemed to really enjoy teaching at the college. I thought it was interesting to note that when Stratton decides to leave the force to spend more time with his son, he intends to teach. Do you ever forsee Maisie changing her profession to allow her to lead a richer personal life?
5) Maisie has inherited not only Maurice's estate, but his charitable nature and the way that he looked out for others - helping Billy and his family, securing Sandra in a school and helping Ursula Thurlow find a publisher. Like Maurice, Maisie is at her best when she is helping those around her. Do we think that like, Maurice, this attention to everyone (at the expense of herself?) may cause her to also end up alone?
I can't wait to hear what everyone thought of A Lesson in Secrets and to talk with you all tomorrow night!
Set your reminder for tomorrow night's show with Jacqueline Winspear, and return to that same link to listen and participate live on Tuesday night at 7pm ET. You can ask questions via the chat session, that I'll relay to Jacqueline, or you can call in and ask a question directly by dialing 347-945-6149. Be sure to register on the site before 7 on Tuesday so that you can participate in the chat from the beginning of the show.
Thanks to everyone who has participated in the read-along, it's been so much fun!!!