Maisie Dobbs


To fulfill the Cozy Mystery requirement of the Eclectic Reader Challenge, I was originally going to review Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear.  Since that time (several months ago), I’ve read six more books in the series and am currently reading book #8, A Lesson in Secrets.  At this point, Maisie and I are practically on a first name basis.  Discussing just one book feels like a cop-out; I would much rather gush about the whole series.  Thank you for indulging me…

Maisie Dobbs is a psychologist and private investigator living in London in the late 1920’s in the aftermath of the first world war.  Her own story is as interesting as the crimes she solves and more is revealed about her with each new mystery she investigates.  Not only is Maisie smart, she uses some unusual techniques to discern the truth.  She is adept at deep mediation, she practices posture mimicking to discern the feelings of her clients and the people she interviews, she uses some interesting tactics such as dowsing to help her locate clues, and she relies heavily on her intuition (which borders on the supernatural) to guide her investigations.  Maisie is a deep thinker and a very private person yet struggles with loneliness and longs for companionship.  I’ve enjoyed watching her grow and mature throughout the series.

Beyond liking Maisie, I’m drawn to this mystery series for several other reasons.  The plots are imaginative and intriguing and are always related to WWI in some way.  The recurring supporting characters such as Maisie’s assistant Billy Beale, her father Frankie, her mentor Maurice Blanche and her friend Priscilla provide depth, fertile material for sub-plots and continuity to the series.  The settings of London and the surrounding countryside satisfy the Anglophile in me. The history of the era is well-researched and permeates the stories in every aspect from fashion to social culture to politics. And, on top of all this, Jacqueline Winspear’s writing is a pleasure to read: artfully descriptive, empathetic to the human condition and compelling. Combine all these qualities together and the result is a fun, fascinating and informative reading experience.

I was destined to love this series.  It is excellent historical fiction written around a heroine I can rally behind in a time period I enjoy. The books are not heavy or difficult to read and I’ve been gravitating toward them when I find myself in need of escape from my frazzled life.  For this very reason, I’ve been spending a lot of time with Maisie lately.

I don’t know that the Maisie Dobbs series really satisfies the requirements of the Cozy Mystery genre.  Maisie is a professional sleuth, after all, who is usually employed by strangers and who travels a great deal to solve her mysteries.  What I do know is that when I read these books, I want to curl up in the leather chair in my living room with a snuggly blanket, a lazy cat and a steaming cup of tea and read the afternoon away.

And that, dear friends, is cozy enough for me.

Maisie Dobbs

{ via goodreads }

My progress in The Eclectic Reader Challenge:

  • Award Winning
  • True Crime (Non Fiction) – In Cold Blood by Truman Capote 4.5/5 stars
  • Romantic ComedyBridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding  3/5 stars
  • Alternate History Fiction
  • Graphic NovelPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi  5/5 stars
  • Cozy Mystery Fiction – Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear 4/5 stars
  • Gothic Fiction
  • War/Military Fiction
  • Anthology
  • Medical Thriller Fiction
  • Travel (Non Fiction)
  • Published in 2014


The Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014


Happy New Year!

Now that all the celebrating and party-making is over, it’s time to get down to the business of this coming year.  I’m not talking about New Year’s resolutions, either.  No focus on healthy eating, organizing my home, or budgeting my money for me thank-you-very-much (although I would benefit from attending to all of those things, believe me).  No, I’m talking about something far more fun – a reading challenge!

I stumbled upon The Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014 while I was wandering around Goodreads the other day.  This challenge, hosted by Shelleyrae at Book’d Out, caught my eye for two reasons: 1) It only requires reading 12 books to complete the challenge and 2) each book is chosen from a specific genre.  I mentioned in my previous post that I’d begun graduate school on a full-time basis.  Even as strapped for time as I often feel now, I think I can manage a book a month for the next year.  And, I like the idea of reading different genres.  The exposure to books outside my particular tastes has the very real possibility of broadening my horizons when it comes to reading choices.  I’m feeling a little adventurous and open to new experiences.

Here are the pertinent rules (For a detailed description of the challenge, click here):

  1. The challenge runs from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014.
  2. Select, read, and review a book from each genre listed below during the year for a total of 12 books. A book may be in print, electronic or audio format.
  3. A book may only be used for one category.  This means 12 different books must be read throughout the year.
  4. The list may be completed in any order as long as all 12 categories are fulfilled by December 31, 2014.
  5. To be eligible for the prize drawing, a blog post reviewing each book must be posted to the link found on the Book’d Out blog.

The Eclectic Reading Challenge 2014 Categories (and my possible choices)

  • Award WinningWolf Hall, Snow Falling on Cedars, or Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell
  • True Crime (Non Fiction)In Cold Blood
  • Romantic ComedyBridget Jones’s Diary
  • Alternate History FictionAlleander Morning
  • Graphic NovelPersepolis
  • Cosy Mystery FictionMaisie Dobbs (#1), One for the Money (Stephanie Plum #1), or A Red Herring Without Mustard
  • Gothic FictionJonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, Interview with a Vampire, or The Haunting of Hill House
  • War/Military FictionKiller Angels
  • AnthologyA Mind Awake
  • Medical Thriller Fiction – haven’t decided yet but I used to read a lot of Robin Cook books and enjoyed them
  • Travel (Non Fiction)Wild: Lost and Found or The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places on Earth or something by Bill Bryson
  • Published in 2014 – to be determined

For the record, none of my choices are written in stone which means I am open to book suggestions for all of the categories.  If you have a suggestion for a great book, I’d love to hear it!  I haven’t read any of the books I’ve listed, but several of them are hanging around my home or in my Nook waiting patiently for some undivided attention.  This challenge is inadvertently encouraging me to chip away at my monumental to-be-read pile.

Sounds like fun, don’t you think?  My husband and kids thought so, too.  They’ve decided to join me in this reading challenge; it should be very intersting to see what they come up with to fulfill each of the categories.  I’m looking forward to getting started!  How about you?