Setting: Gibraltar 1937
Synopsis: Maisie Dobbs receives a letter from her stepmother asking her to return to England to see her aging father. On the way back to England, Maisie stops in Gibraltar and stumbles across a dead body. Maisie investigates the crime while dealing with past events.
Review: I began reading this book with a little trepidation. Lately I have grown tired of Maisie Dobbs – specifically her relationship with James. It never felt like they fit together. James is perfectly fine – I enjoy his character, but he & Maisie never gelled as a couple to me. In past books I was getting frustrated with their relationship and Maisie’s “will she/won’t she” attitude towards marriage and James. It was almost to the point where I was ready to give this series up. And this is a series where the first 6 books are all absolutely heartbreakingly wonderful reads. But the last 4 books have felt uninspired – perhaps because Maisie herself was ready for something new.
I am happy to report that this book, A Dangerous Place, has firmly re-established the Maisie Dobbs series as one of my favorites. Maisie comes across as very human in this book, and that is something that she hasn’t been portrayed as lately. In previous books, Maisie seems to me that she feels that she is “better than” or “above” the people around her – perhaps this is because the author is deliberately portraying Maisie with this personality flaw, or perhaps it is just the way she comes across on the page. I did not get that sense in this book, and I think that is why I liked it so much.
The book opens with a sense of impending doom and sadness to come – both in Maisie’s personal life and in the world at large, with WW2 looming on the horizon. Maisie struggles in this book as she has never struggled before, and she emerges stronger and more determined, and possibly more herself then she has been (in awhile at least).
This book taught me a lot about Gibraltar and it’s part in the lead up to WW2. It also discusses the Spanish Civil War, something I have never read much about. The setting of Gibraltar is key to the murder and to Maisie’s future. Gibraltar is at a crossroads geographically, and Maisie is at a crossroads in her personal life.
Maisie’s choice at the end of the book felt real to me – and the right decision – something she must do to face her fears of the past and to pave the way of the future. I am greatly looking forward to her future adventures and struggles, as she still must deal with tragedy.
- Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear – Book 1 in the Maisie Dobbs series is a fascinating look at a WW1 nurse and the aftereffects of war. This series is a must read for anyone interested in WW1, historical fiction, or mysteries with depth. My favorites of the series are Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather, and Among the Mad.
Added to my Bookshelf To Read: (because there’s always room for more!)
- For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway – gasp! I’ve never read any Hemingway, and I know he wrote a lot about Spain, so it is high time I read one of his books!