Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear

In A Lesson in Secrets, Maisie Dobbs takes an assignment from the British Secret Service and goes undercover as a professor in at Cambridge. She's there to monitor the activities "not in the interests of His Majesty's government". When Greville Liddicote, the founder and principal, is found dead, Maisie investigates and follow leads even after MacFarlane and Stratton, her handlers, tell her to stick to her assignment. That's really hard for her to do since the death appears to be linked to everything else that's going on at the college.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I'm not a huge fan of war or espionage type stories. That stuff just doesn't usually interest me. However, I found this one really good. It helped that it was a quaint British mystery and featured a wonderful lead character, Maisie. This is the 8th book in the series, however, this is the first book I've read. It can definitely be read as a standalone book. However, I'm sure I'd know a lot about more Maisie and her life had I read the others. I'll be looking for the other books in the series.

The story takes place pre-WWII and some of the characters belong to the Nazi party in Britain. While Maisie is suspicious about it, their activities and Hitler himself, apparently others haven't quite caught on yet. It was very interesting reading about the situation as it was back then. It was also quite interesting to read about the pacifists, Liddicote's book and the sensation it caused.

I loved Maisie. She reminded me of both Mrs. Pollifax (featured in mysteries by Dorothy Gilman) and Miss Marple (Agatha Christie) albeit she was a lot younger. She had lots on her plate and was juggling teaching, spying, her friendships, as well as a love interest, James. She handled it all so well without appearing frazzled.

Even though I enjoyed the book, it didn't hold my attention the whole way through. My mind tended to wander while I was reading. I'm not sure why this was happening. I really like these types of books and found the subject matter fascinating. I'm sure I missed some parts of the story because of this.

New words:
comestibles (page 37): food
inculcating (page 41): impress on somebody's mind
counterpane (page 53): quilt
equanimity (page 123): calmness
conchie (page 128): UK - conscientious objector - somebody whose conscience forbids military service
costermonger (page 186): UK - fruit and vegetable seller
frippery (page 187): treat
cheongsam (page 205): Chinese dress
vociferous (page 213): loud
imperturbable (page 232): calm, cool, composed
cloche (page 262): woman's hat with a narrow brim

Highly recommended.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the HarperCollins website.

For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Jacqueline Winspear's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins for this review copy.

A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear, HarperCollins, ©2011. ISBN 9780061727672(uncorrected proof), 321p.

1 comment:

  1. I have a Maisie Dobbs book but still am waiting for the first one so I can read them in order. Everyone seems to love Maisie!


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