Series Obsession: Mad for Maisie

22nd March 2012

You guys know I have a tendency to gush about my favorite series, right? I mean, I wouldn’t leave you alone about Miss Silver and only haven’t blogged about her because my habit was getting pricey. Then there’s the Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway series that I devoured. Then I discovered Bess Crawford, the series by Charles Todd (which I will tell you about next week), and I read all the books in that series in a weekend. So yeah. I love a good series.

I first discovered Maisie Dobbs in Target many moons ago. Now I know some people swear by the book selection at their Target, but I was never all that impressed with ours. Plus, if I’m going to buy a book, I’m going straight to Barnes & Noble, our only bookstore in this area. However, Target is one of those places I go when I need a pick-me-up. It’s so cheery. And what better way to put a bounce in your step than to buy a new book? That was probably 7 or 8 years ago, and I read Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear. The novel stuck with me because of Maisie.

Can I gush?

Maisie Dobbs is a grown-up Nancy Drew, except she’s not privileged like Nancy, though she does run around in a spiffy little MG, and honey, I loved me some Nancy Drew. We’re talking lights-out-read-under-the covers-in-the-dark kind of love. I’d pretend I was asleep when my mom came in and reminded me (knowing I was awake) that I would ruin my eyes reading in the dark. I loved Nancy because she was afraid of a lot, but she did what she had to do anyway.

That’s Maisie. Except instead of being scared of noises made by peacocks, Maisie’s dodging shrapnel. Let me explain…

Maisie goes to work as a domestic for Lady Rowan when she’s young because her mother has died, and her father isn’t bringing in all that much money. Maisie is devastated to leave her father, but she knows a job is necessary, and the Comptons have quite a library. Used to early hours, Maisie begins getting up very early to read in the library until the Comptons come in very early and catch her, tucked away with a book. Lady Rowan, spying the intellect in the young girl, puts her through school where Maisie excels until she joins up as a nursing sister during World War I. After these experiences, which leave her scarred both mentally and physically, Maisie returns to school and trains with Dr. Maurice Blanche, an eccentric man who mentors Maisie in psychology and the human spirit.

Can we also talk about my obsession with World War I?

There is something undeniably interesting about this time period, and I didn’t need the Downton Abbey craze to tell me that. In part, I think it’s because the role of women changed so much during and after this war that it left an indelible mark on society. Maisie is a perfect example of that: she starts her own business as “psychologist and investigator” – with a male assistant, Billy. Her cases inevitably lead both her and Billy back into their wartime experiences in an England still catching its breath after the atrocities of war. It’s an incredibly unique perspective.

Anyway, Jacqueline Winspear will be in Houston at Murder by the Book next Wednesday, and I so wish I could go. It starts at 6:30 p.m., the same time I tutor two men for the TOEFL test. If you’re anywhere near there, make sure you head over. The newest book Elegy for Eddie comes out next week as well, and I may have to suck in and spend full price for the hardback. Or, maybe it will be a bit less for the ebook. We. Shall. See.

In the meantime, if you have a Nook and want to read the first book in the series Maisie Dobbs, definitely let me know. We’ll do the whole share thing, and you can borrow it! This series doesn’t have to be read in order, but there is a definite character progression. If you want more info on each individual book, TLC Book Tours is having Maisie March, and there are tons of blogs participating with reviews for all the books. Check it out here at the TLC Books website.

Buy the books from Indiebound or for your Nook.


  • Anonymous

    I’m pretty sure I have one of these books, but it’s a book in the middle. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this series!

    • Shouldn’t matter too much. Tweet me the title when you get a chance, and I’ll tell you where it falls. I know you loved Downton, so this would probably be right up your alley.

  • I have just started reading this series and I can definitely see why it has so many avid fans.

    • So glad you’re getting into it! It really is something special. Plus, if you like it, you’ll probably love the Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd.

  • I read the first book over the weekend…in a day. I remembered having read about it on a few blogs, but had no idea what I was getting into. Like you said, Maisie is like a grown-up’s Nancy Drew; there were points when I was so struck by their similarities I didn’t know what to do. (You know, besides amount of privilege the characters grew up with, time period, location, etc etc.) It’s all I can do to not abandon all my reading for work and start on the second book.

    • Yesss! I love when someone gets into a series as much as I do. So fun. And yes, it really is hard to do anything else when you have great books awaiting. And if you like Maisie, you will LOVE Bess Crawford. Blogging about her next week.

  • Annesbookgarden

    I love this series too. I also like reading about WWI and I think Maisie is a great character, she is very unique.

    • It’s just such a great combination. Strong, complex female character, great supporting characters, and fascinating time period! Glad you are a Maisie fan, too.

  • Janet

    I heard about the Maisie Dobbs books last year and told my mom. We are both big fans now! And, thanks for getting me into the Ruth Galloway series – I love them!

    • My mom reads them too, and we love talking about them.

      Thank you so much for telling me you enjoy Ruth Galloway. I love when I can introduce someone to a new author/series/book!

  • Anonymous

    I was initially attracted to Maisie for much the same reasons you put forth; in particular, I have always been fascinated with the inter-war period during which the books are set, though I’ve never thought as intelligently about why I like that period as you have!

    Alas, my love affair with Maisie was not a long-term one, as I read the first four or five books and found I was no longer invested in the characters any more. I felt like the first three books were wonderful, but by book four, I was struggling with Maisie’s seeming incapacity to grow or change. I also found the last two mysteries I read to be really underwhelming, so Maisie and I parted ways.

    • Well, I’ve been obsessing about WWI for a while now and actually have a lot more I’d like to discuss. May need a whole other post, but it certainly grabs my interest.

      I can see why you might feel that way. In fact, Maisie’s “Maurice” moments kind of drive me crazy at times, but I really like her character, particularly knowing her backstory. I think in many ways the war stunted her, and I get that.

      However, having said that, I devoured the Bess Crawford series last weekend, and it’s almost like reading about a more confident Maisie during the war. Which isn’t really fair, as Maisie has a lot more hardship than Bess. Bess is fantastic, and I’ll blog about her next week, so maybe that one would work better for you.

  • Anonymous

    I just finished the first one recently and didn’t love it. I felt like there was just so much backstory sandwiched in the middle of all the action. Do the rest of the books in the series focus more on the mystery and less on Maisie’s history? If yes, I’ll have to try the second book!

    • Yes. In fact, I first read Birds of a Feather and then read the 5th book. I had no real clue about her backstory, though I read the third book last week, and it has some more of her history. But it was actually really good.

  • Mary Raynes

    I just borrowed the first one from the library today! I’ve never read them and love to try new to me authors! There are quite a few for me to catch up on. I love Maisie’s era. She sounds like the perfect detective/heroine. 🙂

    • Yea! I hope you enjoy it. Seems like some loved the first and some didn’t. I really liked it, but I had the benefit of reading the rest of the series before I went back and read the first. Let me know what you think!

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