Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Finally Read a Maisie Dobbs' Novel

Messenger of Truth: A Maisie Dobbs Novel (Maisie Dobbs Mysteries) For months now I've been reading other bloggers' reviews of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs mysteries. Everyone likes them. So, I looked in the box of books given to me a while ago and found Messenger of Truth. This isn't the first in the series, but I don't usually have the opportunity to read a series in order so I plunged right in.

This story is set in London in 1931. The setting is of a changed city after World War I where some women have taken on new types of jobs but the poor are still almost Dickensian in their lives and the rich are oblivious to their plight. Maisie has, after a breakdown, set herself up as a psychologist and inquiry agent (Private Eye) with an assistant, Billy Beale, who is a poor man with a large family to support. He feels fortunate to have a job and is immensely loyal to Maisie. She has also rented her own apartment, though the heat is iffy in this very cold winter.

Her client in the story is Georgina Bassington-Hope (love the name) whose brother, Nick, an artist, has died in an apparent accident. He fell from large scaffolding erected to mount his latest work, what everyone suspects is a triptych. There is a younger brother, Harry, who plays the trumpet and is eternally in debt to dubious people, and an older sister, Noelle, who is the practical member of an artistic, creative family. She is also a war widow. The parents, both artists, are still alive, living in the old family home.

All of these characters are splendidly drawn. I must admit I've been catching myself talking like a Londoner in the 1930s. Along with the immediate mystery of whether Nick fell or was murdered, there is a pervasive, lurking suspicion involving the rise of Hitler's Nazi Party in Germany. What does it all mean for Europe and particularly England?

We are introduced to Nick's best friends, also artists, Billy's family, Maisie's father, and her beau. Lots of characters, but reading the book is something like sitting in a comfortable room beside a roaring fire on a cold winter day as a good storyteller weaves a magical tale. I thought it started out slowly but the characters were interesting enough to draw me in until I was deeply involved. I want to read the older books now, but not having done so didn't dampen my enthusiasm about Messenger of Truth at all. No wonder my book blogging friends rave about Winspear's books.


  1. That's a riot about talking like a 1930s Londoner! My husband is currently reading All The Pretty Horses and so I have to hear cowboy talk all the time ... which is way preferable, I might add, to when he was listening to the Lyndon Johnson tapes and all of the sudden kept saying the F word all the time (and my husband is someone who ordinarily NEVER uses those kinds of words!) LOL

  2. A friend of mine gave me a couple Maisie books, but I decided to let my mother read them first. She's started the series and just loves it too.

  3. Jill, OMG, talking like LBJ? I couldn't stand it! Cowboy talk is better. Sounding like a 1930s Londoner is stiff and formal and Dave keeps saying, "What?"

    Kathy, I'm glad your mother is enjoying Maisie. Us older ladies appreciate hearing about days before our time. Makes us feel young, you know. :)

  4. Well, now that I have read the umpteenth rave about Maisie Dobbs I have taken an important step - I have put the series on the list ;D

  5. Barbara, I loved your review. I've been wanting to read this series too. I actually bought the latest one and was just going to dive in but I changed my mind. I love this era and I want to spend a lot of time going through each one. I wonder what it is about the decades before we were born that are so appealing to us.

  6. I am so glad you liked "your first Maisie"!!

  7. I stopped by your blog today. I couldn't "get into" the Maisie Dobbs book I read. The thing that distracted me was that the point of view kept changing and I couldn't figure out who the point of view was from. Good stories though.