October 28, 2011

The Mapping of Love and Death

The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear
Mystery (#7 in the Maisie Dobbs’ series)
2010 Sound Library - Unabridged
Reader: Orlagh Cassidy
Finished 8/30/11
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Winner of the 2011 Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award

Product Description

August 1914. As Michael Clifton is mapping land he has just purchased in California's beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, war is declared in Europe—and duty-bound to his father's native country, the young cartographer soon sets sail for England to serve in the British army. Three years later, he is listed as missing in action.

April 1932. After Michael's remains are unearthed in France, his parents retain London psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs, hoping she can find the unnamed nurse whose love letters were among their late son's belongings. It is a quest that leads Maisie back to her own bittersweet wartime love—and to the stunning discovery that Michael Clifton was murdered in his dugout. Suddenly an exposed web of intrigue and violence threatens to ensnare the dead soldier's family and even Maisie herself as she attempts to cope with the impending loss of her mentor and the unsettling awareness that she is once again falling in love.

This is my favorite in the series, thus far. Maisie’s personal life played a larger role than in previous installments and I’m anxious to read on (or listen) to see what comes next for this plucky sleuth. I have a feeling there are big things in store in Maisie’s future.

On solitude:

Maisie prepared a simple evening meal of soused mackerel and vegetables, with a slice of bread and jam for pudding. In general, she did not mind a solitary repast, often taken on a tray while she sat in one of the armchairs, a fork in one hand and a book in the other. And she was under no illusions regarding the significance of the book, whether a novel or some work of reference. As she turned the pages, the characters or the subject matter became her company, a distraction so that the absence of a dining companion—someone with whom to share the ups and downs of her day, from the surprising to the mundane—was not so immediate. Guests to her home were few, and after such a visit, during which a linen cloth would be laid on the dining table and cutlery and glasses set for two, the vacuum left by the departing visitor seemed to echo along the hallway and into the walls. It was at those times, when her aloneness took on a darker hue, that she almost wished there would be no more guests, for then there would be no chasm of emptiness for her to negotiate when they were gone.

Nan says:

There's something about a Jacqueline Winspear book that slows me down. I barely notice turning the pages. I am transported back to Maisie Dobbs' time and place, and I almost become part of the story.


I cannot praise the series highly enough. The books are categorized as mysteries, but really they are the story of Maisie Dobbs. Because of her work as an investigator, there is always a mystery going on, and as interesting and intriguing as it may be, what this reader loves is the character and her life and times, and the people around her.

I agree, wholeheartedly. And, I'm not at all surprised that Nan chose to include the same passage that I did. Go here to read her complete review.

Be sure to take some time to peruse the author's website and blog. The old photographs alone are worth the visit. Click here to view Winspear speaking on The Mapping of Love and Death at Warwick's in La Jolla, California.


  1. I still have not read one of Winspear's novels. A dear friend of mine, who had surgery on her eyes last year, listened to the books on audio tape (which I'd brought her from the library) and she loved them. Why can't I do that for myself? Good to know that you, and Nan, and my friend all concur on Jacqueline's writing...three trusted sources out of three!

  2. The books are also an elegant glimpse of the time period. I've long been fascinated with the post-WWI era, and the Maisie Dobbs novels make it so personal.

  3. I have got to read some of this series, it seems like just what I am in the mood for today.

  4. Anonymous7:12 AM

    This is one of those series that I have had my eye on for awhile. It sounds fun!

  5. My mother adores this series and keeps urging me to start it.

  6. I think this is my favorite, oh, but maybe picking the hops one is, or maybe the one with the railway car. Oh, I just love them all. They feel like little letters about Maisie. I have the latest here but I may wait to read it till the new one comes out so I can read them one after the other. GREAT books.

  7. I love this series. This was a great read! I honestly don't think I could pick a favourite because at this point they all sort of crowd together in my mind... I am just waiting for the newest one to be released probably next year...

  8. As you already know, I absolutely love this series. I own four of them, but want to get the rest for my persoanl library. Even though I haven't rated most of them as best reads (4.5 and above), I still thoroughly enjoy my time with Maisie. It's like a friendship, sometimes you do really exciting things and other times you just sit down and visit with a cup of tea. All the time together enjoyable, but not necessarily wowing fun. So glad you are continuing with the series. :)

  9. Bellezza - I know you're not a big fan of audio books, but I thoroughly enjoy listening to this series, probably more so than reading the printed books. The reader is outstanding. Her name is Orlagh Cassidy. I need to Google her and see what other audio books she's read for.

    Jenclair - Aren't they, though? I usually lean more toward World War II, but as you said, this series gives such a elegant view of that post-World War I era. If I were a high school teacher, I'd be tempted to assign one of the books as supplemental reading for a history class.

    Pam - I'm going to be sorry when I finish with the series, although at this point, I don't think the author is finished writing about Maisie, so I guess I needn't worry.

    reviewsbylola - It's a fun series, but it's also quite educational. Historical fiction at its best!

    Kathy - I'll join your mom and urge you to give the series a chance. It truly is wonderful. A few of the books weren't as good as some, but overall, I can highly recommend the series.

    Nan - Don't you think this would make a wonderful television series? I have no idea who I'd cast as Maisie, but I'd love to see someone put this series to film.

    I have a copy of A Lesson in Secrets in my stacks, but I may wait and listen to the audio and read the book sometime later on. I've gotten so used to listening to the audios...

    I just popped back over to the author's website and discovered that I am all caught up on the series (with the exception of the latest). I had no idea! I thought there were more for me to read. In some ways this is a good feeling, but it's also a bit sad. :(

    Kailana - I wonder how many more installments the author has in her pipeline. I'm also curious as to what she'll write about when she finishes with Maisie. Hopefully, another historical series.

    Joy - I have a few in printed format, but not all. I'll probably invest in the ones I've enjoyed the most, but not those that were just so-so. Although, who knows. Maybe those lower-rated books would be more enjoyable had I read them rather than listened. Hmm, I think someone should create a boxed set, don't you?

    By the way, I love your analogy to a friendship. Spot on, my good friend! :)

  10. I have the first one and it's been sitting on my shelves for a few years now. So sad that I haven't gotten to it yet!! I'm glad that at book 7 the series is still good.

  11. This one was my favorite Maisie novel too. I read A Lesson in Secrets last month and now I'm left without a new one until March! I'm eager for the next installment too. Enjoy!

  12. Staci - As I recall, I liked the first, but I didn't love it. Some have been more enjoyable than others. Since I've listened to most, I wonder if the ones that didn't draw me in were due more to the fact that I was distracted.

    Nomadreader - Wasn't it good?! I'm getting a bit antsy to read A Lesson in Secrets. Might just have to go ahead and read the printed version rather than wait on the audio. I'm so glad there's another coming out in March!!

  13. I liked this one a lot! I think with every new book I've said it's the best in the series so far.

  14. SuziQ - I hope to get Among the Mad reviewed later today. It was good, but not as good as this one. And I still have A Lesson in Secrets remaining in my stacks. Woot!

    By the way, congrats to your Ducks! Nice win over Washington. :)


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