65 pages • 2 hours readJacqueline Winspear
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Chapter Summaries & Analyses
The work opens in 1929 London, from the perspective of a cynical newspaper seller, Jack. He notes a woman at a Tube station, assuming she is a “stuck up piece of nonsense” (3) from her dress and bearing. The woman, the reader will soon learn, is Maisie Dobbs, the work’s protagonist. He is stunned when she responds to his remarks about the weather in his own working-class accent.
The narrative shifts to Maisie as she arrives at her new office. Maisie recalls discussing her business venture with her friend and patron Lady Rowan Compton and the difficulty of how to describe her unique approach to private investigation. As they talk, Maisie recalls that she once cleaned the fireplaces as one of Lady Rowan’s maids rather than resting in front of them. Maisie settles on describing her business as “Trade and Personal Investigations” (6).
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The property’s caretaker, Billy Beale, talks with her about the best place to hang the nameplate. Billy recognizes Maisie as the nurse who helped save his leg during his battlefield service in World War I. Privately, Maisie is dismayed by the memory, as the doctor who operated on Billy, Simon Lynch, was her first love.
By Jacqueline Winspear