Maisie Dobbs has started her new profession in London. But she isn't quite sure what to call herself. Now she would be called a private investigator. But in 1929, the profession has not yet become established. She finally decides she delivers "Trade and Personal Investigations."
One of her first clients is a gentleman wanting to know what his wife is doing two days a week. He believes she is cheating on him. He wants to know the truth. Maisie reluctantly takes on the case, knowing how nasty this type of situation can become. She discovers the truth about the wife and is able to give an agreeable report and admonition to the gentleman. But the case leads her to a puzzle that haunts Maisie. Maisie wants to know more about The Retreat, a farm where wounded soldiers from WWI can live and be away from society. The Retreat was established for the men who have disfiguring injuries who cannot take the pitying looks and fear of their faces from society any more.
Maisie knows about the War first hand. She had started out as a servant cleaning floors when she was 13. As she advanced herself, she became a nurse. She served in France and saw the horrors of the war. Now Maisie Dobbs is on her own, taking on the jobs her retired mentor had handled. And she needs to build her own clientele and reputation as well.
Maisie Dobbs is a remarkable novel. The book starts in 1929. The second section reverts to Maisie's first job and her advancement. It ends during the war and gives us insight into Maisie. The last section returns to 1929 and the mystery at hand. It is extremely well crafted. The environment comes to life. The war is felt, the wounds seen (never too graphically), and the emotions are powerful. Twelve years has brought some healing to those involved, but the spectre still looms. The mystery Maisie investigates brings back the memories and pain of the war as well as the triumph of the survivors. Author Winspear's first novel is an excellent beginning to a promised series. I'm looking forward to more.
Seven years later - this is still a remarkable novel. It improves on a re-read. I knew what was going to happen, even if I couldn't remember the details. If anything, Maisie's personal story more poignant on the re-read because the reader knows her full war story.
After reading the successive novels in this series, Winspear has kept up the quality and the atmosphere. As I read Maisie Dobbs this time, I found I had to go to some others in the series because of vague foreshadowings that are first presented in this book.
If you haven't read this book yet and like a book that delves into the characters' beings, read it. If you've read it, a re-read will only add to its strength.
Notice: Non-graphic violence
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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