Today I read a book that I've had sitting on my shelf for a really long time, Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear. I thought the premise sounded really interesting, and beyond that, the blurb noted that it was picked up by the New York Times as a notable book for 2003. I used to think that if the NYT picked a book as being "notable," then it had to be good. Not only that, but it was nominated for an Edgar award, the category of which escapes me. Some blurb I read somewhere said that Publisher's Weekly liked it for best new mystery of 2003.
But then I finished the book, and I swear, the last thing I thought when it was done was this: "HUH?" What happened to the mystery part of this mystery? Was it a mystery? Did I not buy this book in the mystery section of Barnes and Noble? Instead, most of this book was the quasi-melodrama involving Maisie's rise from poor motherless daughter of a greengrocer to a life of service in a wealthy household to Cambridge University to a nurse out on the battlefield in WWI, then as a detective. There was something that started out as a mystery, and seemed promising, but then fell flat, like the author had to finish it off after Maisie's life story because she'd forgotten that she had promised us a mystery.
What really kills me is that I'm totally swimming upstream against most of the reviewers of this book...which is okay, and I do respect other people's opinions. I wonder if they thought this book was notable as promised by the NY Times. I guess their opinion of what notable is and mine are very different.
If you want a copy of the second book in the Maisie Dobbs series, I have one on offer to trade at swaptree.com; although my wishlist is so not mainstream that I doubt I'll get any takers.
don't mind me...I'm grumpy because I wasted several hours on this book when I could have actually been reading a notable book.