Sunday, September 16, 2012

Book Review: Maisie Dobbs

Image result for maisie dobbs"Maisie Dobbs" is a fantastic novel, written by JacquelineWinspear. It is set near the turn of the century and includes World War I. 

Maisie Dobbs is the daughter of a grocer. Her mother died when she was young, so it had just been Maisie and her father for quite some time. Eventually, Maisie finds herself working in a wealthy household as housemaid (think Dowton Abbey). While there, she impresses her employers who send her to Cambridge to gain an education. From there, she enters World War I as a nurse. When she returns, the world has changed and she cannot resume the life she once had. She opens her own investigative business and begins a dangerous mission to uncover deadly secrets. It's Downton Abbey meets private investigator. It's fabulous.

The story is fleshed out from beginning to end. There is just enough of each segment of her life to satisfy. The glimpse into the early 1900's is delightful. The front lines of the war, in France, are harrowing and real. The investigation is tense and fantastic. Oh, the whole book is fantastic. This is a must read. 

Here are a few of my favorite passages, regarding veterans of the war. They are really touching and insightful.

“So what do you do when you cannot sleep?”
Billy looked down at his hands and began pulling at the lining of his cap, running the seam between the forefinger and thumb of each hand.
“I get up, so’s not to wake the missus. Then I go out. Walking the streets. For hours sometimes. And you know what, Miss? It’s not only me, Miss. There’s a lot of men I see, ‘bout my age, walking the streets. And we all know, Miss, we all know who we are. Old soldiers what keep seeing the battle. That’s what we are, Miss. I tell you, sometimes I think we’re like the waking dead. Livin’ our lives during the day, normal like, then trying to forget something what  ‘appened years ago. It’s like going to the picture ‘ouse, only the picture’s all in me ‘ead.”
And another passage:

“Shame, isn’t it? That we only like our heroes out in the street when they are looking their best and their uniforms are ‘spit and polished,’ and not when they’re showing us the wounds they suffered on our behalf.”

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