Thursday Quotable – Maisie Dobbs

MAISEI DOBBS (Jacqueline Winspear) - London 1929, Maisie set up her very own investigative agency and her first case will force her to face the hugly truth about WWI experience and how it changed her life

Maisie DobbsMaisie, in turn, looked at the headstone she had unwittingly chosen as her cover. It bore the words: “Donald Holden. Born 1900. Died 1919. Beloved only son of Ernest and Hilda Holden. ‘Memory Is A Golden Chain That Bind Us ‘Til We Meet Again’”. Maisie looked at the weeds underfoot. They may have met already, she thought, while keeping a keen but inconspicuous watch on Celia Davenham, who remained at the immaculate neighboring grave, her head bowed, still speaking quietly. Maisie began to clear the weeds on Donald Holden’s grave.

“Might as well look after you while I’m here,” she said quietly, placing daffodils in the vase, which was mercifully full of rainwater. She couldn’t afford to trudge all the way across the cemetery to the water tap: Cilia might depart while she was gone.

As Maisie stepped to the side of the path to deposit a pile of weeds, she saw Celia Davenham move toward the headstone she had held her vigil. She kissed the cold, grey marble, brushed away a tear, then turned quickly and walked away. Maisie was in no hurry to follow. Instead she nodded at Donald Holden’s headstone, then walked over to the grave that the Davenham woman had just left. It said “Vincent”. Just “Vincent”. No other name, no date of birth. Then the words, “Taken from all who love you dearly.”

Thursday Quotables MemeMaisy Dobbs, the first in a long series of mystery novels by Jacqueline Winspear, is a pleasant read, although I was expecting quite a lot more from it.

It starts out as a mystery, which actually sounded a bit foggy from the start, but it picked my interest nonetheless when references to WWI veterans appeared. Then the middle of the novel – and it’s a good chunk, taking up half of the book – turned out to be Maisie’s backstory. This is what suggested me that this book was really an introduction to the character, more than a standalone mystery. The middle of the book is nearly a story on its own, with a few, not very strong connections, to the mystery. The last part of the novel, the conclusion, was in fact quite weak and unrealistic, if I may say.

Yes, as a mystery, it was quite disappointing. What saved the book for me was the cast of very nice characters, most of whom I had no trouble relating with. I really liked the historical setting, especially the recreation of the war experience, if it felt a bit detached at times. I find that Winspear is very good at creating episodes. Many were very involving, even moving. But as far as the plot goes as a whole… that was a lot less involving. At least, this is my feeling for this first novel.

An enjoyable one, anyway. Do give it a try.


In post is part of the Thursday Quotables meme. If you want to discover more about this meme and maybe take part in it, head over to Bookshelf Fantasies

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About the Author

I was born, raised and I still live near Verona (Italy), though I worked for a time in Dublin. I started writing fantasy stories as a kid. Today I’m a bookseller who reads fantasy, history, mythology, anthropology and lots of speculative fiction. Somehow, all of this has found its way into my own dieselpunk stories.

2 Comments on "Thursday Quotable – Maisie Dobbs"

  1. Somehow I missed this one when you posted it over the summer! I really enjoyed Maisie Dobbs. I think I read it earlier in the year or perhaps last year. The audiobook was quite enjoyable. I was most interested in Maisie’s backstory, but the character appealed to me enough that I intend to continue the series one of these days.

    • I may read more of this series as well, though, as I said, I expected more from this first book.
      I liked Maisie’s story too, I just found a bit of an expedient to use it as core of the story, with the excuse of a mystery around… especially considering the mystery wasn’t very strong. That didn’t work for me, which may be the reason why I ended the book on a negative note.
      But the cast of characters was very endearing, so… 😉

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