Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear

Having put off reading the first Maisie Dobbs books for years, I was determined to not do the same thing with the second book. It took me only five months which is a much better effort!

When Maisie is called in by one of the richest men in Britain, it seems a relatively simple task. Find his missing daughter without involving the police and the media, and do it quickly and Mr Waite would reward her sweetly.

This isn't the first time that Miss Charlotte Waite has disappeared which is in itself quite perplexing, because she is a young lady who seems to have a very comfortable life - she is wealthy and pampered and has the best of everything. The only down side seems to be that she has recently broken off her engagement although it soon becomes clear that she lives in a very controlled environment - everything being controlled by her father.

Appearances can be deceptive though, especially when a friend of hers is murdered and by tying the clues together it becomes clear that there is something far more sinister going on. Maisie needs to find Charlotte and her friends and work out what it is exactly that makes four respectable young women the targets for a killer.

Once again, the lasting effects of World War I play a huge part in the storyline, and for me that is one of the biggest pluses to reading this series. It is often easy to think that World War I went from 1914 to 1918, and then the Great Depression went from the late 1920s, and then World War II started in 1939 and that they were almost standalone events. The reality is though that many of the people who were affected by the first war were affected by the Depression and were again affected by the second war, and so they are indelibly linked in the lives of these people. I have a post half written in my drafts about something along these lines that I might get around to finishing one of these days.

One of my favourite quotes from Birds of a Feather addresses exactly this subject. It comes from page 263 and it is Lady Rowan, Maisie's original employer, who is speaking to Maisie:

"That's one more thing that I detest about war. It's not over when it ends. Of course, it seems as if everyone's pally again, what with agreements, the international accords, and contracts and so on. But it still lives inside the living, doesn't it?"

Maisie's assistant Billie was really the embodiment of this sentiment in this book. His war wounds are playing up and he seems to be making some dubious choices, which gave Maisie something additional to worry about whilst she completes her investigation.

The secondary characters are all present including her aging father, Lady Rowan, Maurice Blanche and more. I was pleased to see that Maisie felt more comfortable with Simon's place in her life, but I was also glad that she seems to have decided that it might be time to at least start thinking about moving forward.

I have already picked up the next book in the series from the library so who knows, I might even read Pardonable Lies even quicker than five months!

I was going to read this book anyway, but I got the added impetus I needed to actually review the book sooner rather than later by agreeing to participate in the TLC book tour that is happening as part of March is Maisie Month to celebrate the release of Elegy for Eddie, the ninth book in the series.

This week, the blog tour will be visiting people who are reviewing the first six books in the series, and then throughout the rest of March the reviews will be concentrating on the later books in the series, including the latest book. You can also find all the tour details here.

Throughout the month there will also be a month long chat with the following special guests leading discussions of Maisie, mysteries, and more on Twitter. Follow the #Maisie hashtag on Twitter to participate:

Thursday, March 8, 1 PM EST
Author of the Book Lust series and NPR Commentator

Friday, March 16, 3 PM EST
VP and Executive Editor, Harper Books

Friday, March 23, 3 PM EST
Founder and President of Book Passage

New York Times bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs series


Maisie Dobbs is a private investigator like no other. And her detective skills are about to be tested as never before...

London, 1930. Joseph Waite is a man who knows what he wants. As one of Britain's wealthiest men, he last thing he needs is a scandal. When his daughter runs away from home, he is determined to keep the case away from the police and the newspapers. So he turns to a woman known for her uniquely intuitive approach to criminal investigation, and for her discretion - the extraordinary Maisie Dobbs.

Waite's instructions are to find his daughter and bring her home. But the task is far from straightforward. Maisie soon uncovers a chilling link to a recent murder case, and finds herself revisiting the tragedy of the Great War.

This books counts for both the War Through the Generations Challenge (WWI) and Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.


  1. I really enjoy this series a lot and I totally agree with what you said about the after effects of WWI being such an important part of these books. I just finished Pardonable Lies and it was wonderful, my review actually goes up on my blog tomorrow.

    1. Anne, it will be interesting to see if WWI continues to play such a strong role in the series.

  2. I am starting to think I may have given up on this series a little too early, and now I am regretting not following through to the next book. I think I am going to have to rectify that as soon as I can. This was a great review, and I enjoyed it immensely!

    1. Zibilee, I definitely intend to keep on reading the series.

  3. I really enjoy this series. I am looking forward to the newer one a bit later this month. As you know I read the first book, but then took forever to get around to this book. Once I did it was rather easy to make my way through this series.

    1. Kelly, as you know I like to space my series reads out but I do intend to keep on reading.

  4. I've read A Lesson in Secrets last year and I felt I didn't need to read them in order, so the next one I'll be reading is Elegy for Eddie. I enjoyed A Lesson in Secrets but not enough to start at the beginning. But if the next one is good, I may go back and read them all!

    1. Judith, I am not compulsive about many things but reading a series in order is one of them!

  5. Great review....I've heard so much about this series but just never got around to exploring it. Finally read book #l for the TLC tour and thought it was wonderful. Looking forward to continuing Maisie's journey.

    1. Joanne, I put off reading the first book for the longest time too, but I am glad I finally read it.

  6. I love reading about the changes WWI brought to everyday life, so I think I'd really enjoy that aspect of this series. I'm glad you got around to reading this book sooner rather than later!

    Thanks for being on the tour Marg. :)

    1. Heather, thanks for having me on the tour.