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Jacqueline Winspear: The Maisie Dobbs Series (Review). the Series Follows Heroine Masie Dobbs Through the 20th Century.

I am a reader who loves mystery and suspense, exotic locations, accurate details, and enticing protagonists woven into a cohesive tale.

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." The series begins in World War I London.

First: A Sense of Place

I love a sense of place, geographically speaking. Well-described locations in novels help me become easily lost in them. When I visualize places, I thoroughly enjoy what I read. It is easy for me to be familiar with situations in the first Windspear novels.

I lived in Kent, England, which Maisie regularly visits in the series. I traveled periodically up to London by train. I did some exploring off-the-beaten-track locations similar to those Maisie knew.

Maisie also served as a nurse in France (see images of period nurses' uniforms below). As a result of living in Ditton, England, so close to the English Channel, I had the opportunity to visit some of the British WW I cemeteries in France.

Maisie was born the daughter of a costermonger (seller of fruits and vegetables) and lost her mother, through death, at an early age. Masie ultimately went into household service and spent her early life as a maid in an upper-class London household.

Kent, the Garden of England, is the site of many stately homes. It is easy to imagine Masie working in any one of them.

If a book's setting is a place I've never visited, I quickly find locations on a detailed map that the author describes. Likewise, movement in a series is easily traced by referring to maps as paper copies or the internet.

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 the author or Masie's further adventures during the later part of the 20th century.

Third: Meticulous Research that Ties the Novels Together

And finally, excellent research knits location and time together in a believable whole. Again, Winspear excels here, using her family experiences, delving into Kentish places, or spending hours in libraries or archives.

Fourth: Plot Devices

Winspear excels at creating believable plots based on tidbits, not grandiose issues. She defines her characters based not on blood and gore situations but rather on intimate details. Maisie uses those psychological items that are so good at allowing readers to understand the plot, ferreting out the culprits.

Fifth: Characterization

Winspear's characters are true-to-life, whether she describes Maurice Blanche, her mentor and tutor, Lord Julian and Lady Rowan Compton, who present Maisie with the necessary means to obtain a university education or her right-hand man Billy Beale. These people, including her father, influence Maisie and appear in the series. Ultimately they also affect how she sets up her business and prioritizes facets of her life. We meet many ordinary people who become fascinating because of Winspear's descriptions.

A Sense of Place - Kent Vision in Springtime


Fifteen Books Currently Written by Jacqueline Winspear in the Maisie Dobbs Series.

There are fifteen books in the series so far. All are meticulously researched. 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 "Masie Dobbs."

12th Novel of the Series: Journey to Munich

11th Novel of the Series: A Dangerous Place

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.

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Research Tools include Books and Camera


The Ten First Books in the Maisie Dobbs Series

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

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

Old Woodland

Old Woodland

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

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


What defines Maisie Dobbs' personality?

Masie's Motor Cars

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.

Masie's Clothing, Work Ethics and Class Attitudes

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 Career

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.

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

Anyone for a Good Mystery?

Reading as a Pastime

Reading as a Pastime

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

Here is a lovely and well-designed author site that allows readers to peek 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 travel very much as she undertook various cases in the first ten novels. However, in the 11th and 12th books, she travels and finds herself in more exotic places in her business. Here is a modern map, but many 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

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?

© 2011 Georgene Moizuk Bramlage

Thank You Notes

Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on March 03, 2014:

@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.

Tanya Jones from Texas USA on February 22, 2014:

I would like to give this series a try.

Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on February 08, 2014:

@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.

Giovanna from UK on February 08, 2014:

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

Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on October 16, 2012:

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

Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on October 16, 2012:

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

Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on October 15, 2012:

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

lewisgirl on October 15, 2012:

Nice lens!

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