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Good Literature for Children & Adults

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

The great adventures of Maisie Dobbs

I have been reading the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear on and off over the past year. It is such a satisfying way to read a series, until we reach the end of those already written and published and have to wait another year or so for the next installment.

A Dangerous Place is the 11th in the series, and we find Maisie questioning many things about her life – and her future.

It is now 1937 in “Maisie time”. When the series began Maisie was a young woman dealing with her experiences a nurse in the Frist World War.  Now she observes with horror that another war may be looming in the near future. This is a much more mature Maisie with more life experience, some of it very good – but a recent tragedy has forced her to retreat from the life she knew before. Leaving her home and spending time in India Maisie realizes she will not be whole again if she does not return to England.

While on a stop over in Gibraltar Maisie disembarks and decides to take a little more time to herself. She discovers there is very real danger in this military town. The Spanish Civil War is of immediate concern and Gibraltar is indeed a dangerous place.

Journey to Munich, published just this month, takes place in 1938, and the world is truly on the brink of war.

Maisie is now a widow, mourning her husband and all that she lost with his death. We find her re-visiting the places where they spent time together, re-claiming her life now that she is alone. She is also a very wealthy woman and is now prepared to take on the privilege, and the burden of her position.

Maisie does not have much time after returning to London before she is approached by the Secret Service to take on a mission in Germany. She is to travel to Munich to secure the release of a man who will be important to the British when war comes.

Munich is a city completely changed by the rise of the Nazi party. On the eve of the annexation of Austria, Munich is a very frightening place. There are few to be trusted here. There is a palpable sense of fear among the people on the street. It is a very stark contrast to life in England, and Maisie’s only desire is to get out of Germany alive and begin her life again at home.

The appeal of this series is that Jacqueline Winspear has become a much better writer as the series has progressed, and her character, Maisie Dobbs, has also grown. Maisie is a strong, brave heroine, taking on daring investigations, while we readers go about living our comparatively boring 21st century lives. We do realize of course that it is all fantasy. These are books to read for escape, a sort of literary comfort food, and a retreat from the real world of illness, or disappointment, or the stresses of our own lives. Some people colour, some read mystery novels. The fact that this series is set during an interesting time in the past provides some little sense that we are learning something while being entertained.


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