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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs #1) by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs is a formidable, dogged, whip-smart investigator working to ferret out the truth in the aftermath of World War I in this irresistible first installment of Winspear's 18-book historical fiction series.


She knew she was out of bounds, but this was nothing new to her. She had spent much of her life out of bounds, living and speaking where, according to some, she had no business.

Maisie Dobbs begins Winspear's series as a thirteen-year-old servant in a Belgravia mansion, taken in and trained for service after the death of her beloved mother and her father's inability to provide for her.

But Maisie's sharp intelligence and intense curiosity are evident to the lady of the house, the wealthy feminist Lady Rowan, and to Lady Rowan's well-educated family friend and investigator, Dr. Maurice Blanche. Together they begin to train Maisie for greater things than being a housemaid.

She trains as a psychologist, with a World War I wartime interlude serving as a nurse, before turning her fascination with humans and her keen eye for detail to becoming an investigator, despite the fact that a female entrepreneur investigator is an unheard-of position for the time.

The mystery of the book centers around a post-war haven for soldiers mentally and physically harmed by The Great War. But the mystery takes a back seat in the book to Maisie's explorations of human motivations, her interest in others' behavior, and her unorthodox methods of ferreting out the truth.

I was unpleasantly surprised to find out at the end of the book that Maisie has been cowardly on one significant front. While avoiding the unpleasant reality of post-war tragedies feels like plausible human nature, the postponement of facing the difficult truth of her loved one's plight for years upon years didn't feel like a Maisie-type reaction, and I found myself simultaneously not fully buying into it and disappointed in the situation.

I loved Maisie's headstrong manner and rejection of societal limitations, and I look forward to the next books and to seeing where Maisie goes next.

I listened to Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs as an audiobook.

Check out this Greedy Reading List for Six Historical Fiction Mysteries to Intrigue You.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Jacqueline Winspear is the author of 18 Maisie Dobbs novels as well as a memoir, This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing, a standalone novel, The White Lady, a World War I-set novel, The Care and Management of Lies, and the nonfiction book What Would Maisie Do?

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