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Jacqueline Winspear: The Maisie Dobbs Series (A Review)

Updated on May 7, 2016

12th Novel of the Series: Journey to Munich

Journey to Munich: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
Journey to Munich: A Maisie Dobbs Novel

The time is early 1938 and Maisie Dobbs is working for the British Secret Service. Her duty sends her to Hitler's Germany where she encounters intrigue and personal peril.

 

The tale of a boy and his horse. Accurate depictions of rural life before the battlefield scenes.

The Maisie Dobbs Series and Me

Yes, I love a good mystery! What are some of the essential features that get me fascinated with an author or a series such as the 'Maisie Dobbs' books written by Jacqueline Winspear? To understand allow me to introduce you to Maisie Dobbs, "psychologist and investigator" in post World War I London.

First: A Sense of Place

I love a sense of place, geographically speaking. I can easily get lost in a book in which the location is so familiar to me that I can easily visualise it. Maisie was born the daughter of a costermonger (seller of fruits and vegetables, lost her mother at an early age, and ultimately went into service spent her early life as a maid in an upper class London household. I lived in Kent, England which Maisie regularly visits in the series, and I made regular forays up to London where I did some exploring of off-the-beaten track locations similar to those Maisie knew. Maisie also served as a nurse in France (hence images of period nurses' uniforms below) and I also had the opportunity to visit some of the British WW I cemeteries in France.

Or if the book is set in a place I've never visited, I can easily find locations that the author describes. Movement in a series by now-deceased Tony Hillerman, featuring Navajo Tribal Police and officers Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, could easily be traced by referring to a map of the Four Corners area of the U.S.

Second: Historical Time Settings

I love the feeling of visiting a time out of history whether it's the 'Great War" and its aftermath as depicted by Winspear, or the era during the Napoleonic Wars described by Bernard Cornwell.

Third: Meticulous Research that Ties the Novels Together

And finally, great research knits location and time together in a believable whole. Winspear excels here whether it is using her family experiences, delving into Kentish locations or spending hours in libraries or archives.

Winspear excels at creating believable plots based on tidbits, not grandiose issues, that arose out of Britain's participation in World War I. She sets out to describe and define her characters based not on blood and gore mysteries, but rather intimate details, those psychological items, that Maisie becomes so good at ferreting out and understanding.

Her characters are true-to-life, whether right-hand man Billy Beale, who appears in later books of the series, Maurice Blanche, mentor and tutor to Maisie, or Lord Julian and Lady Rowan Compton who present Maisie with the necessary means to obtain a university education and ultimately set herself up in business. We meet many ordinary people who become fascinating because of Winspear's descriptions.


Please enjoy reading this series, and let me know in the Comments section what you think.


Twelve Books Currently Written by Jacqueline Winspear in the Maisie Dobbs Series Books. An eleventh is due out early in 2015.

There are twelve books in the series so far. Each can stand alone, but readers gain more of a sense of the main character, Maisie, as well as her time and place if they begin reading the series with Book #1.

11th Novel of the Series: A Dangerous Place

A Dangerous Place: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
A Dangerous Place: A Maisie Dobbs Novel

The time is 1937 and Masie Dobbs returns from a lengthy stay in India. Still experiencing much personal grief, she travels to Gibraltar, a British garrison town, where she encounters murder and intrigue of the highest level.

 

A Sense of Place - Kent Vision in Springtime

Source

Some Critical Opinions and My Rejoinders

Some Critical Opinions and My Rejoinders

Some critics and reviewers have stated that they really didn't know much about the characters at the end of the book. Perhaps this is because Maisie does not come across to readers like me as an especially warm person. She holds a great bit of her emotional self back, likes to stay in control of both professional and personal situations, and even sets about arranging life for some of those close to her in a manner which she feels is best for them. I can not help but wonder if this is not necessarily a defect on the author's part, but rather a part of who Maisie is because of both her experiences as a youth and then in the war . Winspear certainly does have me beguiled.

Some readers have complained that the first book is "choppy." I think this is because Winspear has so much to introduce here: characters, settings, and Maisie herself. I find this a slight criticism which recedes as Winspear focus narrows in each succeeding book.

I do recommend that readers begin with the first book Maisie Dobbs and work their ways through the series. I believe that each book builds upon the preceding one.

Please enjoy reading this series, and let me know in the Comments section what you think.

10th Novel in the Maisie Dobbs Series: Leaving Everything Most Loved

Leaving Everything Most Loved (Maisie Dobbs)
Leaving Everything Most Loved (Maisie Dobbs)

The time is 1933 and Masie Dobbs sets out to solve the murder of a young Indian immigrant. She finds herself fascinated with the Indian culture. However, she also discovers the subtle and sometimes apparent English prejudice for persons from the Commonwealth countries.

 

The Ten First Books in the Maisie Dobbs Series

Which is your favorite book?

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The Care and Management of Lies: A Stand-alone Novel about WW I in Europe and on the British Home Front

| Source

The Care and Management of Lies

"THE CARE AND MANAGEMENT OF LIES" was published to coincide with the anniversary of outbreak of The Great War (WWI) in August 1914. The stand-alone novel is excellently researched and easy-to-read. You'll not want the book to end.

Research Tools include Books and Camera

Source

Mystery fiction; Detective Fiction; Crime Fiction; or Whodunit - So many to choose from; so little time to read!

Old Woodland
Old Woodland

What is your favorite kind of mystery?

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Have you read any or all of the Maisie Dobbs series books?

Scotland Yard, Victorian Building near Big Ben - 1890
Scotland Yard, Victorian Building near Big Ben - 1890

The Ten First Books in the Maisie Dobbs Series

On a scale of 1-7, what did you REALLY think about this series?

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MG Sports 14/40 1V 1927 - Defines the heroine as does the author's meticulous research

Source

Season Six Ends the Downton Abbey Series in the USA.

Masterpiece: Downton Abbey Season 6
Masterpiece: Downton Abbey Season 6

Season six Downton Abbey wraps up life at the Abbey in the final days before WW II. The series is fantastic at depicting manor house life, both upstairs and downstairs, in the Maisie Dobbs' Era.

 

What defines Maisie Dobbs' personality?

One defining characteristic of Maisie Dobbs is the mental image of her driving a red MG sports car. Her first car was a "loaner" from Lady Compton, probably the MG 14/28 Super Sports, the first car produced by the MG Car company and launched in 1924. As Masie replaced this automobile she probably selected the very similar 14/40 in 1927 and continued with further MG models.

Jacqueline Winspear sets scenes in the Maisie Dobbs novels with meticulous research about daily living in the early to mid-1900s as well as women's and men's clothing of all classes, employment and work ethics, class attitudes and physical geography of England and France. This research allows readers to easily visualize the novels' settings and characters.

Masie's nursing experiences in France and back home again in England permeate the series as both actual happenings and remembrances. I include the series of British WWI nursing uniforms to help readers visualize how Maisie and her friends might have appeared. Images of early 20th century life are easy to find on the internet, and help the imagination along.


Meet the people important in Masie's life.

Wounded soldiers near Herne bay or Canterbury
Wounded soldiers near Herne bay or Canterbury

Masie lived a fairly defined and enclosed life. Very few people were really important to Masie. Her wartime experiences were always trapped within her memory.

Here is a short list: Her father, Maurice, Lord and Lady Compton, Priscilla and Simon.

Photo: Postcard photo of wounded soldiers during World War I. The location would be in the Herne Bay or Canterbury area. They wear puttees and spurs. By Fred C. Palmer (died 1941) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

British Nurses' Uniforms Worn in WW I (Cropped from postcards and propaganda posters) - There were nurses recruited from many aspects of British life; hence the

Click thumbnail to view full-size
King George visits nurses at a field hospitalFrom poster depicting Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) nNursesPoster seeking aid for the French Red Cross.Poster showing a nurse above the flags of the Allies along with illustrations of surgical dressings for war relief.Five thousand by June Graduate nurses: your country needs you. Red Cross recruitment poster showing a nurse standing, with barracks in background.The Y.M.C.A. service for relatives of dangerously wounded poster.  This shows a woman visiting a wounded soldier in hospital while a doctor and Red Cross nurse look on.VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) recruitment poster
King George visits nurses at a field hospital
King George visits nurses at a field hospital
From poster depicting Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) nNurses
From poster depicting Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) nNurses
Poster seeking aid for the French Red Cross.
Poster seeking aid for the French Red Cross.
Poster showing a nurse above the flags of the Allies along with illustrations of surgical dressings for war relief.
Poster showing a nurse above the flags of the Allies along with illustrations of surgical dressings for war relief.
Five thousand by June Graduate nurses: your country needs you. Red Cross recruitment poster showing a nurse standing, with barracks in background.
Five thousand by June Graduate nurses: your country needs you. Red Cross recruitment poster showing a nurse standing, with barracks in background.
The Y.M.C.A. service for relatives of dangerously wounded poster.  This shows a woman visiting a wounded soldier in hospital while a doctor and Red Cross nurse look on.
The Y.M.C.A. service for relatives of dangerously wounded poster. This shows a woman visiting a wounded soldier in hospital while a doctor and Red Cross nurse look on.
VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) recruitment poster
VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) recruitment poster

What do you think about historical mysteries like the Maisie Dobbs series?

Do you really like a series of books like the Maisie Dobbs series?

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Anyone for a Good Mystery?

Reading as a Pastime
Reading as a Pastime

Do you read mystery novels?

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Jacqueline's Official Site - Stay up-to-date with what Winspear has planned for Maisie Dobbs

Here is a very attractive and well-designed author site that allows readers to peak behind book scenes to learn where the author gleans information. Author Jacqueline Winspear keeps the site marvelously up-to-date. Included on the website are four of my favorite easy-to-access categories:

  1. chronological list of Winspear's books,
  2. the world of Maisie Dobbs,
  3. essays about scenes in Winspear's books, and
  4. characters in the Maisie Dobbs novels.

Places Familiar to Maisie Dobbs

Masie didn't really travel very much as she undertook her various cases in the first ten novels. However, in the 11th and 12th books,she traveled, in the course of business and finding herself to more exotic places. Here is a modern map, but many of the locales have not changed much since the early 20th century. Zero in on locations to achieve a better sense of distance and topography.

Locations of settings in Maisie Dobbs novels

A
London, England:
London, UK

get directions

Maisie's office and flat were located here.

B
Center of a good bit of WWI fighting:
Somme, France

get directions

C
Ontario, Canada:
Ontario, Canada

get directions

Maisie became a widow and lost a child here.

D
Gibralter:
Gibraltar

get directions

in 1937, a British garrison town.

E
Munich, Germany:
Munich, Germany

get directions

Masie's destination, in the days preceding WWII, in the 12th book

Pats or Pans?

What do you think of this kind of series? What other information would you like to read in this Hubpage? If you aren't familiar with this series, will you try to find at least one book from it and read the book?

Journey to Munich: Unabridged CD Version

Thank You Notes

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    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 

      4 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @Arachnea: Hi! Thanks for visiting this page. The books in this series are definitely worth reading if you appreciate vernacular history. Winspear is a meticulous researcher.

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 

      4 years ago from Texas USA

      I would like to give this series a try.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 

      4 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @Adventuretravels: Hi! Thanks for stopping by to read and comment upon this lens. Yes, I think you are in for a special treat...Windspear does an excellent job of melding her meticulous research into her characters and locations.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna 

      4 years ago from Perth UK

      I have not read these yet! I think I'm in for a treat!

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 

      5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @lewisgirl: Thank you for visiting and for your gracious comment!

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 

      5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @LaraineRoses: I hope that you get a chance to read the Winspear books about Maisie. Thanks so much for the angel blessing!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 

      5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Thank you for introducing me to this author and especially to this series. Angel Blessed!

    • lewisgirl profile image

      lewisgirl 

      5 years ago

      Nice lens!

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