Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I posthumously reviewed Jo Beverley’s last book, The Viscount Needs a Wife. Tina told us about the 2017 version of the British Books Challenge. Jean reviewed a book that explains the latest archaeological research around Stonehenge. Jean is also continuing her trek through Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. Sim’s virtual walk in London took us to Postman’s Park. Becky reviewed the vintage mystery, Cornish Coast Murder.
Books: Pardonable Lies, Messenger of Truth, An Incomplete Revenge, and Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear
Genre: historical mystery
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Publication date: 2006 – 2009
Source: e-books from the library
Summary: The defining life experiences for Maisie Dobbs, as for many of her compatriots, happened in World War I. She was a nurse who witnessed many horrific things and knows that some of the soldiers experienced even worse. In spite of mental and physical trauma as well as difficult economic times, Maisie and her assistant, Billy Beale, are making a go of a small business that specializes in investigations, especially ones that involve a psychological element.
Thoughts: I read four Maisie Dobbs books in 2016, numbers 3 through 6 in the series. I’ve been saving them up to review together and I think I won’t manage another one this year. I read them as e-books from the library and I’m always waiting in line for the next one!
These make great escapist novels for me — set in England in the late 1920s and early 30s (we just entered the new year of 1932 in Among the Mad). Even though these books are set well after the end of the Great War, I learn a lot about that war and its aftermath. The mysteries often involve people who were in some way damaged by that conflict. Among the Mad gave me some insight into the use of chemical weapons like mustard gas.
The books cover very serious topics, so it’s not obvious that they make good escapist literature. But, it’s a different time and place and that works well for me. Sometimes more frivolous stories feel too light to really get me away from the present world. I can sink into the problems of Maisie Dobbs for a while as a relief from mine.
The Maisie Dobbs books are best read in order, beginning with Maisie Dobbs. There’s a long character arc through the series for Maisie and Billy and, to a lesser extent, some of the minor characters.
Appeal: Maisie Dobbs is not for everyone. The pace is often leisurely. There’s occasionally a bit of a new-agey spiritual vibe. The mystery sometimes takes a back seat to the characters and setting. But, if you like a series that calms while teaching some history, Maisie Dobbs might be for you.