Thursday, May 10, 2012

Jacqueline Winspear, MAISIE DOBBS

A quiet, thoughtful mystery/personal-recovery-from-trauma-of-war book, the first in a series. Maisie, a former maid who was plucked from her job by her employer who recognized her superior intellect, plans to go to Cambridge until WWI interrupts her life. She becomes a  nurse, falls in love, and loses her lover to a bomb blast in the field, or so it seems throughout the book. Except (spoiler alert) he's not really dead ... he's just so badly injured that she never goes to see him, until the end of the book. Her personal plot is linked with the mystery plot, which concerns a scary, closed community (one of the characters calls it a "cult") called The Retreat, in which men who are injured in the war can find refuge. But like in "Hotel California"--they can never leave--at least, not alive; the man who runs it looks the image of a perfect officer, but is deranged. There's some nice psychological fodder throughout (and Winspear has done her homework on trauma and PTSD); but Maisie, as a character, feels as if she's hard to know. Maybe this is partly because the story is focalized through Maisie (the movie camera is on her shoulder, so to speak) but told in third person. I would give the next book in the series a try, though.

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