Review of True Blue, by Jane Smiley

True Blue

by Jane Smiley

Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2011. 297 pages.

I read this book when finishing up my vacation in Oregon, because staying with my Auntie Sue made me hanker for a horse book. Auntie Sue had horses when I was small, and I also loved horse books then.

I enjoyed True Blue, but I’m wishing that I’d read the earlier two books about the Lovitt family first. There’s a nice horsey atmosphere which I was looking for, but the resolution of the drama in this book was rather unsatisfying to me. I think the book would have affected me more if I were already caring about the Lovitt family and invested in whether or not Abby’s brother Danny reconciles with their father.

In this book, Abby gets a new horse named True Blue. His owner died in a traffic accident, and no one at the stable knew anything about her. Abby works with True Blue. He seems unusually nervous. Then Abby starts seeing ghosts. Is Blue’s former owner haunting her?

Meanwhile, Abby breaks her wrist and can’t ride. So she starts helping train students, including her best friend. And her brother Danny comes around to help on the farm — which adds lots of tension.

As I said, I enjoyed this book, but think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read the others first. It’s a quiet book, but a nice story. I do think I’ll go back and read The Georges and the Jewels and A Good Horse, because sometimes it’s nice to read a good horse story.

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Source: This review is based on an Advance Reader Copy I got at ALA Annual Conference.

Review of Bitterblue, by Kristin Cashore


by Kristin Cashore

Dial Books, 2012. 563 pages.
Starred Review

The cover explains how this book fits in to Kristin Cashore’s other work: “Sequel to Graceling, Companion to Fire.” I reread Graceling before reading Bitterblue, and reread Fire immediately after. Both books were even better the second time around. Kristin Cashore writes books with richness and depth.

Bitterblue is different from the first two books. Bitterblue is now Queen of Monsea. She is not graced, like Katsa in Graceling, though there are many Gracelings around her, including Katsa and Po. She is not a Monster, like Fire, though Fire does come into this story.

This book is the story of Bitterblue coming of age and learning to be a good queen. She does some visiting her city incognito. She finds some writings both her mother and her father left behind. Mostly, she’s trying to help her kingdom come to terms with the horrors her father subjected it to. She’s figuring out how to carry on.

Meanwhile, there’s unrest in many of the other kingdoms. Katsa and Po are still active on the Council, trying to help victims of injustice.

Bitterblue is trying to rule well, but along the way, she needs to uncover many secrets. She also needs to come to terms with the horrors that her father carried out.

All of that sounds a little dry and dull summed up like that. It is anything but dry and dull. We still have Kristin Cashore’s rich language and vivid imagination as we read about an ordinary girl who has become queen. Can she become a good one? And what does that mean, in a world where the people are rising up against their rulers?

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Source: This review is based on an Advance Review Copy I got at ALA Midwinter Meeting and checked against a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Sonderling Sunday – Chapter Six, Flying Away

It’s time for Sonderling Sunday again – Where I indulge in my nerdy passion for the curiosities of language. I’ve got a different picture this week, from a package that arrived yesterday that had me jumping up and down in excitement:

No, I’m not changing the book I’m using as a bizarre German phrasebook. But, you see, when Shannon Hale, one of my very favorite authors, posted on her blog various international covers of one of my very favorite books, Book of a Thousand Days, I couldn’t resist e-mailing her and telling her about Sonderling Sunday and asking if she might have a copy of Das Buch der Tausend Tage to send me, to be my next book to go through after I finish Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge. While she was at it, she sent an Advance Review Copy of Palace of Stone, sequel to Princess Academy. I’m so excited!

Mind you, I don’t need more German books. I’ve already shown off my collection. Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge has started me off on something I’m totally enjoying, in my own quirky way. I’m looking forward to going through some books originally written in German, like Momo, by Michael Ende, or Cornelia Funke’s books. But Das Buch der Tausend Tage! I’m so excited!

Anyway, that’s a preview of things to come. Now I’m on Chapter Six in Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, the German translation of The Order of Odd-fish, by James Kennedy. This begins on page 53 in the English version and Seite 70 in the German.

Now, I’m afraid I may have been daunting non-German speakers by beginning with a full paragraph. No, you do not have to speak German to enjoy this. I was going to start today with merely sentences or phrases. However, the first paragraph is simply too choice! What turns of phrase! What things I must learn how to say in German! I mean, come on: “duct tape,” “indignant,” and “sputtering”! So here is the first paragraph of Chapter Six:

Colonel Korsakov’s plane, the Indignant, resembled a flying box cobbled out of bits of a dozen other planes, lashed together with chains, frayed rope, and duct tape. It seemed ready to collapse at any moment, but somehow kept sputtering through the sky, coughing and wobbling, plowing through the thunder and rain.

Here that is, rendered in German:

Oberst Korsakovs Flugzeug, die Echauffierte, ähnelte einer fliegenden Kiste, die aus Einzelteilen von einem Dutzend anderer Flugzeuge zusammengestellt worden war, mit Ketten, Faserseil und Klebeband. Sie drohte jeden Augenblick auseinanderzufallen, flog jedoch wie durch ein Wunder weiter und kämpfte sich stotternd und schwankend durch Sturm und Regen.

Such goodies! We have:

Indignant” = Echauffierte

“resembled” = ähnelte (Hmm. This reminds me of Ahnung, which means “Idea.” I learned Ahnung from reading Harry Potter books in German. They kept saying they had keine Ahnung, “no idea.”)

“box” = Kiste

“cobbled” = zusammengestellt (“together-asked”)

“chains” = Ketten

“frayed rope” = Faserseil (Google says that means “fiber cable”?!?)

“duct tape” = Klebeband (This just comes out as “adhesive tape.” Don’t they have a special word for duct tape?)

Ah! At 19 letters, a candidate for longest word of the day: “collapse” = auseinanderzufallen (“out of one another to fall”)

I like “somehow kept sputtering through the sky” translated as flog jedoch wie durch ein Wunder weiter (“flew however as through a wonder farther”)

und kämpfte sich stotternd und schwankend durch Sturm und Regen is the last phrase, which translates more literally as “and fought stuttering and fluctuating through storm and rain.”

Ah, lovely words just keep happening! I will refrain, however, from giving you the next complete paragraph, and settle for some choice words.

“mothbally” = Mottenkugeln (“moths scoops.” I know kugeln from ordering ice cream!)

“slapped” = geohrfeigt (“boxed on the ears”)

“domestic clutter” = Krimskrams (Google translates this as “odds and ends.” Great word!)

“dangled” = baumelte (This has the root for “tree,” baum in it.)

“crawlspace” = Kriechraums

“bomb bay” = Bombenschacht

Hmm. English says the colonel’s oboe hung in the bomb bay. German says Die Oboe des Obersts hung in its case in the bomb bay. Perhaps Germans are simply too appalled to think that an oboe might be hanging out of its case?

“blunderbuss” = Donnerbüchse (“Thunder rifle” I wonder if “blunderbuss” is a warped version of how this sounds.)

I like the way this sounds: “shoebox” = Schuhschachtel

“cufflinks” = Manschettenknöpfen (“Men’s cuffs buttons”)

“jawbone” = Kieferknochen (Fun to say!)

“untidy bag of bolts” = unordentlichen Blechkiste (“unorderly tin box”)

“laughingstock” = Gespött

“antennae” = Fühler (“feelers”)

“beady eyes” = Knopfaugen (“button eyes”)

“Fleet of Fury” = Furiose Flotte (Ah! Alliteration retained!)

“sleek” = schlanke

“dive” = Sturzflug (“fall-fly”)

“swatting” = scheuchte

“tumbled” = taumelte

“not much of an excuse” = zwar ein recht fadenscheiniger Vorwand (“indeed a right flimsy excuse”)

“crushed” = zermalmt

“streaming fire” = mit einem Feuerschweif (“with a fire-tail”)

“conqueror” = Bezwinger

“For the love of Lenin” = Bei Lenins Liebe (Oo, that one’s even better in German!)

“silly things” = alberne Dinge

Huh? “dandelions” = Gänseblümchen (“gooseflowers”)

“burping” = zirpte

Okay, this one just is NOT as good in German! “Babies! Beautiful, bouncing babies!” = Babys! Sü?e umherkrabbelnde Babys! (“Babies! Sweet crawling-around babies!”)

“fussy British musicians” = pedantischen britischen Musiker

“eaten” = verschlungen (“swallowed”)

That’s the end of Chapter Six. Next week, we’ll have Ken Kiang’s reaction to his apparent evil triumph.

Summing up:

Longest word: auseinanderzufallen

Most fun to say: Schuhschachtel

Best new word: Krimskrams

Best figure of speech: “as through a wonder”

Translation with most improvement: Bei Lenins Liebe

Translation with least improvement (indeed, the opposite of improvement): Babys! Sü?e umherkrabbelnde Babys!

Review of One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts

Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

by Ann Voskamp

Zondervan, 2010. 237 pages.

This is a book about gratitude, a book about counting your blessings. A lot of it I felt was affirmation of what I already knew. I read it slowly, pausing when others had it on hold, so I had to turn it back in to the library for awhile, and also pausing when I’d put it in my pile to post a quotation on my Sonderquotes blog.

Basically, the author writes about how her life was transformed by looking around her and counting one thousand gifts in her life. And then she continued on.

Now, I have a blog, Sonderblessings, devoted to counting my blessings. But in some ways lately, I’d gotten a little off that. My health has been bad since my stroke last summer, and I’m feeling a little lack of focus lately. But when I read the last chapter, something resonated.

I particularly liked the poem she quoted from Teresa of Avila, and what Ann Voskamp said after quoting it:

“That’s His song! I rejoice in you. Come rejoice in Me. The song that plays the world awake, the song that fuels joy: Enjoy Me. Enjoy Me!

“Is there a greater way to love the Giver than to delight wildly in His gifts?”

This last chapter also references some themes that God had been speaking into my life lately. God loves us enough to sing over us. God talks of Himself as our Husband. (When I don’t have a husband any more, all the more reason to turn to God.)

You need to read the book for the full context, but I was delighted to find this section here:

“We fly into the light splitting back the dark. I press my cheek into the cold of the windowpane, wanting the whole of the erupting horizon. Happiness burns like a longing, and over the wing and the whir of the propellers, forty thousand feet over earth, I can hear Him, singing, waking the world. He’s singing that song! The one I really didn’t believe He sang! ‘He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs’ (Zephaniah 3:17).

“He sings love! In the air, over the world, I can see the song, the ardency of the notes pulsing in colors. The curve of the world burns ruby, a jewel prying open the day. And I can see in: Love is the face at the center of our universe. A sacred Smile; Holiness ready to die for intimacy. . . .

“I was afraid? I would have let fears that He wasn’t close, wasn’t passionately caring, wasn’t tenderly tending, keep me from seeing this sunrise bleeding love up over all the world? Now that would have been crazy! Look at that love that orchestrates red over water, that arranges light to play ocean in shimmering lines, that composes sky to gradate, scale of luminosity. And all for us — in this moment! He chose me — us! To be his bride! True, that’s the intellectual premise of the Christian life, but only as the gifts are attended, not as ends but as means to gaze into the heart of God, does the premise become personal, God’s choosing so utterly passionate. So utterly fulfilling.

And the key to all of this? Counting the gifts God was giving to her. Noticing them. Listening, looking, and seeing God’s love and God’s generosity pouring down.

So Ann Voskamp has given me a focus for the year. Enjoy God. She’s shown that a simple idea like that can transform your life.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Prime Progress

Woo-hoo! After getting my prototype Prime Factorization t-shirt from my new Cafepress Shop, I tweaked the colors to make the chart brighter. I also made shirts on different colored backgrounds. As luck would have it, the new shade for 2 almost perfectly matches the “Caribbean Blue” background. My new revised shirt came this week, and I love it!

For those just coming in on this, the chart is 10 rows of 10, beginning at the bottom left. (Because I can’t bring myself to have higher numbers down lower on the shirt.) Each prime number gets its own color, and the prime factors of each number are displayed by color. Unlike the sweater, the numbers are listed on the shirt.

Like the sweater, I couldn’t resist putting rows of 8 on the back. And of course, I had to list those numbers in their Octal representation. But since that adds to the cost, I’m also offering t-shirts that have only the chart on the front.

Now, as long as I was so happily wearing my prime factorization t-shirt, I had to spend some time making progress on my prime factorization scarf. The biggest problem with the scarf is that I need to carry around lots of skeins of yarn. Fortunately, I ordered a Prime Factorization Tote Bag from my Cafepress Shop! (The pictured one was ordered before I brightened up the colors.)

I am super happy about how the prime factorization scarf is turning out. The original sweater is kind of pointless if you don’t know what it represents, but the scarf is aesthetically pleasing totally aside from the mathematics.

Here is my progress earlier this week, up to 24. (Today I finished 30, and, honestly, it’s hard to stop, because it’s so much fun to see how the next number will turn out!)

This one starts at the bottom. Though with a scarf, you can hold it any direction you like.

Once again, the background color, black, represents 1. It’s used between the other numbers.

The first stripe of blue is our first prime, 2.

Then we have pink for 3.

4 = 2 x 2. It’s not quite as easy to tell on the scarf, but the next blue stripe is twice as wide as the original.

5 gets a new color, yellow.

6 = 2 x 3, so a stripe with blue, then pink.

7 gets purple.

8 = 2 x 2 x 2, so that stripe of blue is three times as wide as the original.

And so it goes. I love the way the colors flow. You can quickly see that blue is showing up every second stripe, and that every second blue stripe is fatter. You can see the pinks showing up every third stripe and the yellows every fifth. As I said, I think it makes a lovely art object totally apart from the math behind it. And the math makes it completely cool.

Also, with a scarf, you don’t have to decide your colors ahead of time. I am using a certain progression. I’m afraid going to 100 is going to be ridiculously long, but I may do it anyway. After all, I’m doing it more for the math than anything else. But when I’m done, I’m planning to make a cuff-to-cuff cardigan using the same design, and that one cannot go so high.

I’ll continue to show my progress. Such fun!

My posts on Mathematical Knitting and related topics are now gathered at Sonderknitting.

Review of Heist Society, by Ally Carter

Heist Society

by Ally Carter

Disney Hyperion Books, New York, 2010. 287 pages.

When I was a kid, I avidly watched It Takes a Thief. This book reminded me of that show, but this time it’s a group of teenagers pulling off a nearly impossible heist. I also love that a teenage girl is the star.

And they manage to deal with the readers’ sense of ethics: They have to do this theft to save Kat’s father. And it’s really stealing back, not stealing.

As the book begins, Kat has tried to leave “the life,” the family business of stealing. She has conned her way into the Colgan School, and plans to put thievery behind her.

But then her handsome and rich friend Hale frames her for a prank against the headmaster, and Kat gets kicked out. Hale informs her that he needs her help. Her father is in danger, because he’s been framed for stealing five Old Masters from a very evil man. That man wants his paintings back.

The catch is that Kat’s father did not actually steal them. (He was doing another job at the time.) So Kat has two weeks to assemble a crew, find the paintings, and steal them back.

This book is simply good fun. The way the group of teens pull off the heist is brilliant, clever, and plausible. (The author invented a fictional museum, so it’s not like she’s giving directions for a heist like this.) I do love the solution at the end, and there’s plenty of danger along the way. I’m also kind of happy I took so long to read the original book, because now I can right away get hold of the next book, Uncommon Criminals, to find out what Kat’s up to next.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of Penny and Her Song, by Kevin Henkes

Penny and Her Song

by Kevin Henkes

Greenwillow Books, 2012. 32 pages.
Starred Review

I’ve already found the book I want to win the Geisel Award for a book for beginning readers this year. I received a copy of this book at ALA Midwinter Meeting and fell in love with it. Then I got to hear Kevin Henkes speak about his work and particularly this series he is starting for beginning readers, and my love only increased.

The book begins like this:

Penny came home from school
with a song.
“Listen, Mama,” said Penny.
“It’s my very own song.”

But right then is not a good time for Penny to sing her song. The babies are sleeping. Papa tells Penny the same thing. So Penny goes to her room and tries singing to herself in the mirror. She tries singing to her glass animals. “That didn’t work.” In the second chapter, the babies are awake, so Penny tries singing her song at the dinner table. Mama and Papa both tell her not to sing during dinner.

But after dinner, Penny and her song get all the attention they deserve. I particularly like this page:

“That was beautiful!” said Mama.
“That was wonderful!” said Papa.
The babies made baby noises.
“Thank you,” said Penny.

The whole family enjoys singing the song, and it has a lovely gentle ending that brings things full circle.

One thing I loved about this book was Penny reminded me of myself as a little girl. No, I didn’t make up my own songs (Well, at least not to share.), but I did play “Little Marcy” records and dance all around the house, singing along with Little Marcy. I can also relate to having to be quiet while babies were sleeping.

This book just makes me happy.

And I would love to try it out on beginning readers. Though I think it would work great for Storytime as well. Kevin Henkes explained that he put in two chapters because beginning readers love the accomplishment of finishing a chapter. He is writing further books about Penny that will get progressively a little more challenging.

But I have already found a friend.

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Sonderling Sunday – Chapter Five, Ken Kiang

Happy Sonderling Sunday! Alles Gute zum Muttertag!

I want to point out that Sonderling Sunday is not necessarily for people who speak German. It’s for nerdy types (Sonderlinge) who enjoy playing with language, who enjoy looking at concepts from a new perspective (such as “knew by heart” translated as “knew like her own vest pocket”), or who enjoy the sounds of words (such as “Balderdash!” translated as Papperlapapp!).

For Sonderling Sunday, I use Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, the German translation of James Kennedy’s The Order of Odd-Fish as a source for learning all the things you never knew you wanted to be able to say in German.

We’re on Chapter Five. This begins on page 48 of the English version, and Seite 65 auf Deutsch.

I’ll start with the opening (two) paragraphs:

But who is Ken Kiang?

Let us rewind to several years ago. Imagine a room — a large room, the size of a theater or cathedral. The room is almost empty, the walls bare, the floor nearly deserted.

This is translated as:

Wer ist nun Ken Kiang?

Gehen wir einige Jahre zurück. Stellen wir uns einen Raum vor, einen gro?en Raum etwa von der Grö?e eines Theaters oder einer Kathedrale. Der Raum is fast leer, die Wände sind nackt und es steht so gut wie nichts auf dem Boden.

There aren’t really new words in that section for me. The only thing I find particularly interesting is that the word translated from “bare,” is nackt, which I thought meant “naked.” And yes, that is the same meaning, but in English we tend to use naked more often for people and “bare” for things like walls. I would venture to guess that we got our English word “naked” from this source.

Going on, let’s look for some more interesting translations. In fact, a paragraph a little ways down the page has much more potential.

It is a small, wind-up brass donkey. Ken Kiang watches it trudge across his desk. The donkey is a medieval Arabic automaton he unearthed at a recent archaeological dig in Syria. He wants to be impressed by its unique workmanship. He longs to glory in its exquisite detail. He aches to be fascinated by its stunning ingenuity.

It bores him.

Auf Deutsch:

Es ist ein kleiner Blechesel zum Aufziehen. Ken Kiang sieht zu, wie er über seinen Schreibtisch hoppelt. Der Esel ist ein mittelalterlicher arabischer Automat, den er bei einer archäologischen Ausgrabung in Syrien kürzlich gefunden hat. Er würde sich gerne von der einzigartigen Handwerkskunst beeindrucken lassen, sehnt sich danach, sich in den wundervollen Einzelheiten zu verlieren. Er wünscht sich beinahe schmerzhaft, von der verblüffenden Genialität dieses Apparates fasziniert zu sein.

Er langweilt ihn.

Here we have:

“brass donkey” = Blechesel

“trudge” = hoppelt (I suspect it’s really saying the brass donkey hopped across the desk.)

I still enjoy that “impressed” goes back to the same roots in German. I know this because on the computer printing out something in English is ausdrucken in German. And the translation for “impressed” is beeindrucken. I think that’s sort of like “imprinted,” which you have to admit is in the word “impressed” when you really look at it.

“stunning ingenuity” = verblüffenden Genialität

Onward! Some more interesting words and phrases:

“weary” = überdrüssig

“most rare” = seltensten (This clearly has the same root as in the word “Odd” = seltsamen

“experiences” = Erfahrungen (This has fahr, the root for “travel” in it.)

“connoisseur’s instinct” = Genie?erinstinkte

“homeless shelter” = Obdachlosenunterkunft (literally, something like “whether-roofless-accommodation” and “accommodation” is literally “under future.”)

“verve” = Schwung (Google translates this “momentum.”)

“showmanship” = Publikumswirksamkeit (I’m going to start looking for the longest word in each section. So far, Obdachlosenunterkunft has it by one letter.)

“charities” = Mildtätigkeit (Hmm. Google just translates this as “mild activites”)

“more obscure crusades” = düstereren Kreuzzügen (literally, “darker cross trains”)

“ambitious” = ehrgeiziges (literally “honor stingy”)

“baffled needy” = verblüfften Bedürftigen

“laurels” = Lorbeeren

An even longer word!:
charity programs = Wohltätigkeitsprogramme

“standard for excellence” = Ma?stäbe (The German is shorter than the English! Literally, this is “measure-bars”)

Here’s a good one!
“when inspiration struck” = als ihn die Muse küsste (“when the muse kissed him.”)

“clods” = Schwachköpfe (“weakheads”)

“dabbled” = dilettierte

“itched” = juckte

“use it to great effect” = wirkungsvoll in Szene zu setzen (“effectively set the scene”)

That’s it for Chapter 5!

Longest word of the day: Wohltätigkeitsprogramme

Most fun figure of speech: als ihn die Muse küsste

Best insult: Schwachköpfe

Most fun to say: verblüfften Bedürftigen

Tune in next week, when Jo, Aunt Lily, Colonel Korsakov, and Sefino flee from the evil Ken Kiang!

Librarians Help! Week Three Report

Do people realize how many ways Librarians help others? This is my little quest to publicize those things. I’m keeping track of the ways I help people on my job. I would love to get comments from other librarians, or comments from people who have received help from librarians.

This week, there was the usual book-finding. Here are some examples:

— Fablehaven books
— James Patterson books on CD
— Babymouse
— Veggie tales videos
— Percy Jackson books #4 and #5
— Kids’ cookbooks
— Picture books from a list
— Microfiche issue of National Genealogical Society Quarterly
— Magic School Bus series
Nobody’s Perfect
Leading Ladies
The Wizard of Oz
— Fiction about knitting (Debbie Macomber)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
— A guidebook for Malawi
— Another book by Margaret Mitchell
— A road map of Loudoun County
— Books by Ken Follett
The Secret Lives of Henrietta Lacks
— Books on origami
— Travel books
Caleb’s Crossing (It was a Hot Pick, so she could get a copy right now.)
— Video Jazz series by Ken Burns, episode 1
— “Classics” for 5th or 6th graders
— books on Monarch Butterflies
— The Princess and the Pea

As you can see, the variety is incredible. Some other things I did:

— Updated our books on the Annotated US Code with “Pocket Parts” — yearly updates with any changes.
— Learned more about the Virginia Room before the Virginia Room Librarian retires.
— Checked on the interlibrary loan availability of a particular book on traumatic brain injury for someone who works in the coroner’s office.
— Booked people with our English tutors
— Showed people how to make copies
— Helped someone print an airline ticket
— Put books on hold
— Requested microfilm ILL for Caswell County records in North Carolina

As a bonus, I’ll list some of the classics I found that kept two mothers of 5th graders happy. One was planning to get abridged adult classics, and I admit I told her I don’t like those. (As far as I’m concerned, they lose their classic status when watered down. They are classic more for their language than for their plot, and will be enjoyed more when kids are ready for them.) The mothers didn’t want books that were too long (like The Hobbit), but also didn’t want books that were too easy. Some books I did give them:

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
Half Magic, by Edward Eager
The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander

Spread the word: Librarians Help!

Review of Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs

by Jacqueline Winspear

Penguin Books, 2003. 294 pages.
Starred Review

A big thank you to Liz B of A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy for bringing this book to my attention.

This book is about Maisie Dobbs, a brilliant girl who was discovered studying on her own and sent to Cambridge by the upper-class family where she was serving. Now, between the wars, she is a Psychologist and Investigator. Her first case is to find out if a wife is straying — but ends up focusing on a Retreat for soldiers scarred in the Great War.

The middle of the book tells how Maisie got her start and how she interrupted her education to serve as a nurse during the war, and how she got her own scars.

Liz’s review is excellent, so I don’t have a lot to add. But one thing that was interesting to me was how much of the book paralleled another book I just read, The Return of Captain John Emmett, by Elizabeth Speller. Both were set about ten years after World War I, in England. Both involved a supposed haven for wounded or psychologically damaged soldiers. Both had things happen during the war that left lifelong scars to those involved. However, I have to admit that Maisie Dobbs is much more pleasant reading, and didn’t go into nearly as much detail about the awful things that happened during the war. The protagonist in The Return of Captain John Emmett is jaded himself about what he saw and just going through the motions of life. Maisie, on the other hand, has been through some awful experiences, but she is using her clever mind to help people and make things right. This book fits the description of a “cozy” mystery, while the other one had too much grim reality to fit that category. However, you do get the same feeling of what things were like after World War I, and how everything was poised to change.

I’ll definitely be reading more books in this series. Maisie Dobbs is someone I enjoy spending time with.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.