LCC 2010, War, and Surprises
April 15, 2010
Still basking in the glow of Left Coast Crime 2010. The hotel was marvelous, Sunny Frazier was a great roommate—met old friends, and made new ones. I was even on a panel with Sue McGinty. And my car, which overheated two blocks away from the hotel, miraculously healed itself for my drive home.
One session I went to was “Two Ladies From London.” Featured were Jacqueline Winspear and Rhys Bowen. I went to hear the two lovely ladies partly because Jacqueline was a new author to me, and as shallow as this sounds, because I love British accents. Can’t help it—think I’ve been an anglophile since I can remember. Rhys and Jacqueline were both wonderful; and though new to me, Jacqueline’s Maisie Dobbs sounded like an interesting character.
By this time, however, I’d already accumulated a suitcase full of books (only a slight exaggeration!) But when I mentioned to several other conference-goers that I hadn’t read any of the Maisie Dobbs mysteries—their disbelief was palpable. So I bought one more book, “Maisie Dobbs,” the first in Jacqueline’s series—even though at this point I knew there was a war connection in time period and setting.
I seldom read books or watch dramas about war or its aftermath, because I like to escape from reality when I read—and prefer happy endings (gratefully, my reading group forces me past this literary shortcoming). So I wasn’t sure I’d appreciate “Maisie Dobbs.”
But I do like books or dramas that emphasize the psychology perspective and deep emotions of the characters. Consequently, I watched “Foyle’s War” on BBC’s Mystery, not only because the series starred Michael Kitchen (Christopher Foyle) and Honeysuckle Weeks (Samantha Stewart)—two of my favorites—but mainly because of character depth.
All that being said, I read “Maisie Dobbs” in one sitting! Couldn’t leave Maisie until her story was over.
Yes, it dealt with war, and for sure, the horrible human loss from war, and the lingering after war consequences. Nonetheless, Maisie is a very engaging character, and expertly drawn by Jacqueline. From the books first paragraph the reader “sees” Maisie, and within short order you are very much inside her head.
What also kept me reading were the well developed supporting characters in Maisie’s world. The Class and war themes are ones many readers will already be familiar with, but I found experiencing them through the eyes of Maisie and the people in her world an enjoyable experience. And for me, the story “in total” was surprisingly optimistic.
The sense of place was vivid, nicely described, and authentic feeling. Jacqueline’s writing style is seamless and engaging, The “voice” the reader hears is Maisie’s, not the authors—which I consider a high compliment.
Though I expected not to like this novel because of the time period and themes. Just the opposite—I liked Maisie’s story very much, and now want to read more of her adventures.
What a wonderful surprise!