Book Buddy Review: This is where myself and a friend review a book that we both read, a la The Books Smugglers Joint Reviews. My friend Annie will most often be joining me as we have a monthly book club with just the two of us.
Let us know if you've read the book as well and what you thought of it!
I told you we were doing a book a month, right? This one just so happens to have been February's book. It's taken us a bit to get this going, but we'll catch up soon enough! Annie and I take turns choosing the books. This one was mine. I had seen it on a list somewhere...and am so glad I did!
Publication Date: May 2004
Short Synopsis (Goodreads): Maisie Dobbs, junior housemaid, is found reading in the library, assigned tutor Maurice Blanche who trains her in psychological investigative techniques and prepares her for Cambridge. After spending World War I nursing in France, she sets up as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.
My Review: I am usually very strictly a fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal reader (either YA or MG, sometimes adult levels as well), but in recent years I have been branching out into the historical fiction and mystery novels. Some have been good, others fantastic, and some I know I will read every single one of them in the series. Maisie Dobbs falls into the latter category.
I forget precisely where I heard about Maisie, but I am glad it happened. Out of all of the historical fiction mystery novels that I have read, she has been my favorite. She is reserved, to others, but even somewhat to us as the reader, but she is loyal, hard-working, and very very smart. She notices things and is great with working with people. She is, what she calls, a psychological investigator, and honestly, I can't imagine investigating being done in any better way.
When Ms. Dobbs takes on a case, she is responsible for all parties. She doesn't just find information and pass it on to be used willy nilly, but she cares for what happens and she really does her digging. As a skill, she sometimes imitates the posture of those she talks to and she can then feel what they are feeling, giving her greater empathy, but also an understanding of why they are doing what they are doing, etc. This adds an almost paranormal aspect to things, so it's not just a plain mystery, but that isn't the focus on the story but a means to an end, which is nice.
Maisie is truly an amazing character. She has an insatiable desire for knowledge and this gives her many unique opportunities, but it is a hard path because she was a maid but is now above the position, but not quite to the top yet and so has a lonely line to walk. Her father, her friends, her employers, and everyone are very lifelike. I felt as if I was in 1920's London, or wherever the location, which just shows how Ms. Winspear, the author, has done a fantastic job.
I became so invested in the world and in the characters that at the end something happens, and I had thought for the whole book that something different was the case, but somehow this was worse and I sobbed huge ugly tears. It was a great release, but I couldn't stop crying for a while. Truly, truly amazing storytelling and characters. I recommend whole-heartedly!
Annie's Review: I have been a long time reader of mysteries and historical mysteries. My first love is fantasy but I do love a good mystery and always come back to the genre. And this story is one of the better ones.
Although Maise Dobbs is a bit different from other detectives I am familar with, she has become one of my favorite heroines. She is quite simply a fabulous character. She is hardworking
Overall, the book is so well paced and written that I didn't want to put the book down and I was very much invested and rooting for Maise. I eagerly look forward to the next book.
I would give it 4 stars and highly recommend it to anyone, though I think my lady friends would enjoy it more then most of my male friends.