- Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs, book #2)
- Audio CD (9 CDs, about 10.5 hours total)
- Publisher: Sound Library; Unabridged edition (June 2005)
- ISBN-13: 978-0792736653
Birds of a Feather grabbed me even more than the original Maisie Dobbs. Although I really enjoyed that first novel – and it gave the background for me to understand Maisie’s journey – this second installment really takes off, both in the intensity of the case, and in showing a change in Maisie’s character. It’s exciting to see the way the cases she works reflect her own values, and force her to look at her own life and the choices she makes. Much of this second “Maisie Dobbs” novel is about home and comfort and belonging.
Maisie never accepts a case without a promise that those who hire her will get at the root of the problem. In Maisie Dobbs, the first case we see is a husband wondering about his wife’s fidelity; Maisie encourages him to show his care and concern directly to his wife. In Birds of a Feather, a father hires Maisie to find his adult daughter, who has fled their home. Before agreeing to help Mr. Waite, Maisie tells him he must engage his daughter more upon her return, he must eliminate the reason she wants to run away.
It’s interesting that, while Maisie asks others to look inward, she has a bit of tunnel vision about her own lifestyle. We see that starting to change in Birds of a Feather, as, in the process of helping others, Maisie is really starting to chip away at her shell – running her own (successful) business makes her seem very independent, but perhaps it’s an unintentional front, another way of keeping distance between herself and others.
One of the most striking things about this novel is all I learned more about the Great War and its lasting effects a dozen years later. Winspear puts names and stories to those who fought, those who were left behind, and those who never returned. We see a number of ways that people helped, a form of protest, and the great depression that ensued after the War.
There’s not the large backstory that we read in Maisie Dobbs, although there are some important memories of Maisie’s mother that bubble up. Again, Maisie looks at the whole person when considering a case, often mirroring someone’s body language or speech pattern to put them at ease; I appreciate the way she leans on intuition, and uses meditation and affirmation in her work. There’s even a mention of the work of Joseph Pilates!
Again, the novel is peppered with pithy phrases of wisdom. In Maisie Dobbs, it was her mentor, Maurice Blanche, who shared these bits of advice and observation; this time, however, they both deliver them them:
“Seeing is not a function of the eyes alone.” (Maisie observes)
“Each case has a way of shining a light on something we need to learn ourselves” (Maurice)
I am definitely becoming “Mad about Maisie!” This is the second of Jacqueline Winspear’s “Maisie Dobbs” novels, and I’m working my way through them as part of Book Club Girl’s readalong. I borrowed the audiobook from my local library and was very impressed with this BBC Audiobooks America Sound Library production. The narrator/reader, Kim Hicks, was able to conjure all types of accents, and could carry both genders well. Perfect for multi-tasking, Birds of a Feather took me through 15 miles on the treadmill, 6 loads of laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, and dusting the entire house (good thing, as my neighborhood book group is coming over on Tuesday!)