Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Lesson In Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear

A Lesson In Secrets: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear
Published March 2012 by HarperCollins Publishers
Source: the publisher and TLC Book Tours

Publisher's Summary:
In the summer of 1932, Maisie Dobbs' career takes an exciting new turn when she accepts her first assignment for the British Secret Service. Posing as a junior lecturer, she is sent to a private college in Cambridge to monitor any activities "not in the interests of His Majesty's government." When the college's controversial pacifist founder and principal, Greville Liddicote, is murdered, Maisie is directed to stand back as Scotland Yard spearheads the investigation. She soon discovers, however, that the circumstances of Liddicote's death appear inextricably linked to the suspicious comings and goings of faculty and students under her surveillance. To unravel this web, Maisie must overcome a reluctant Secret Service, discover shameful hidden truths about Britain's conduct during the Great War, and face off against the rising powers of the the Nazi Party in Britain—all as the storm clouds of World War II gather on the horizon.

My Thoughts:
Last March I had the pleasure of reading both Elegy for Eddie and The Mapping of Love and Death as part of Maisie Dobbs month. With the idea that this March would be Mystery March at Lit and Life, I quickly said "yes" when offered the chance to read another Maisie Dobbs book.

As with the other two books, Winspear does a marvelous job of bringing the reader up to speed in the series without rehashing everything that's happened in the previous books. This being the book that came right
before, Elegy for Eddy, it was sometimes disconcerting with this one to take just that one step back in time. I continue to wonder, too, if I would find all of that "catching up" annoying if I were a regular reader of the books.

I've enjoyed getting to know Maisie and her companions through these books but I'm beginning to feel a little bit like Maisie is just too good to be true. Have you ever watched "CSI: Miami?" In it, all of the other people in the CSI unit work very hard collecting evidence and investigating crimes but only David Caruso's character seems able to solve the crimes. I feel that Maisie is headed down that path; in A Lesson In Secrets only Maisie is able to accurately foresee what will happen as the result of the rise of fascism she sees around her.

Still, I can't help but be fond of Maisie, an intelligent female character set in a time when women didn't have as many options, who is still to recovering from the emotional scars of her time as a World War I nurse, and who struggles to find her place as a person of means after growing up as a member of the household staff. A Lesson In Secrets is, like the other books in the series, a comfort read with smarts.

Plus, Winspear keeps me guessing and I love that I can't figure out whodunit. For more opinions about this book, check out the other reviews of Maisie Dobbs books on the tour.

To learn more about Jacqueline Winspear and her work, check out her website or like her on Facebook.

Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in the county of Kent, England. Following higher education at the University of London’s Institute of Education, Jacqueline worked in academic publishing, in higher education, and in marketing communications in the UK. She emigrated to the United States in 1990, and while working in business and as a personal / professional coach, Jacqueline embarked upon a life-long dream to be a writer. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha, Alex, and Macavity awards for the first book in the series, Maisie Dobbs, which was also nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel and was a New York Times Notable Book. She now lives in California and is a regular visitor to the United Kingdom and Europe.


  1. I am glad that you liked this one and have considered picking up the series again, but wasn't really crazy about the first one. I can imagine that it might be a little confusing to read the books out of order though!

  2. I just finished this book and I adore Maisie but, I agree, she's definitely "superwoman" in this book...a little too good to be true. She does more than all of the CSI team together and doesn't need to sleep. And she's got a great guy and great friends, to boot! But I love Winspear's writing and how she has developed Maisie into, essentially, a crime profiler, along the lines of Criminal Minds analysts, as well as an investigator. (I read the first Maisie Dobbs just before reading this book).

    Great review, Lisa. I'm making a note to read your other Maisie book reviews (or re-read them as the case may be!)

  3. My husband read the first book in the series years ago and was kind of meh about it. He thought I might like it though. Still have yet to try the series though. I really must.

  4. I have book one and must read it. I think I will like Maisie!!!

  5. I'm glad to see that you are still enjoying the series in spite of your concerns for future books. Thanks for being on the tour!

  6. I adore this series, and really need to read the new one.

  7. This was my first (and only, so far) Maisie Dobbs, and I really enjoyed it. I think Maisie is a great character...I just need to make time to go back and start from the beginning of the series.