Jacqueline Winspear’s smart, resourceful Maisie Dobbs has lived an adventurous, dangerous life in Winspear’s historical mysteries. After serving as a nurse during the Great War and later apprenticing to a Scotland Yard detective, Dobbs began her investigatory career with a case of infidelity that turned into murder. Maisie Dobbs won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel in 2003 and launched a series that Winspear’s readers adore.
Now on book 15, The American Agent, Winspear has placed Dobbs in England during the Blitz, when Hitler’s bombs savage London. An old ally approaches Dobbs to help solve the murder of an American war correspondent, and Dobbs must unravel the crime even as the city is torn apart around her.
We asked Jacqueline Winspear which books she’s been reading and loving lately, and here is what she said.
Jacqueline Winspear’s Favorite Recent Reads
First: Sandra Day O'Connor by Evan Thomas
I just had to read this book, not only because I was really curious about the life of Justice O’Connor – I love that she was a ranch girl – but I had a lovely, very swift encounter with her several years ago. We were both guest speakers at a literary event in Carmel, California, and were staying at the same hotel. I’d attended her presentation and was … well … rather star struck. That evening we happened to be leaving the hotel at the same time. There were several other authors around – quite a few men, I might add – when her car arrived and stopped in the street. She linked her arm through mine and asked me to see her to her car. Oh my goodness! I was beyond honored, and I absolutely loved that she asked another woman for that helping hand to the car. I read the book, enjoyed it, and am still starstruck.
When we read about refugees making their escape from war-torn countries or from famine, rampant organized crime, or simply in search of a better life, it’s often the end of the journey we hear about – the clamoring at a border gate, or being washed up on a beach far from home. It’s the same with war – we read about it and see news coverage online or on the TV, but most people have no idea of the reality. This is an incredible account of one refugee’s journey, from trying to make a life in untenable conditions, and then the decision to leave by the most dangerous means. It’s a raw yet very readable insight into the journey of one young woman’s bid for a better life – a livable life – but her losses along the way and her ability to endure are heartbreaking.
The Female Persuasion: A Novel by Meg Wolitzer
I forgot to be fearful on at least two flights while reading this book (I am not a good flyer). This novel is turns witty, searing, bluntly honest, and unbelievably insightful as it examines female relationships, from the most loyal, and then to the point of betrayal. It offers a window into the forging of friendships and the way they can be lost. It’s about the stars we put on pedestals and why they can come crashing down – and at the end of the day, it’s a timely novel in an era when younger generations of women are having the battles that the early feminist movements thought had been won. It was definitely thought-provoking!
Author photo by Stephanie Mohan
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