Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Maisie Dobbs Book Coming Soon

In April we will be blessed with the seventh book in the wonderful Maisie Dobbs mystery series by Jacqueline Winspear, The Mapping of Love and Death. In the newest novel, Maisie is hired by the parents of a young man listed as "missing" in 1916 during WWI in England to find the woman who wrote him a series of love letters later found among his belongings. While searching for this woman, identified only as "The English Nurse," Maisie wrestles with her own memories of serving as a nurse in "the war to end all wars."

Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in the county of Kent, England. After higher education at the University of London's Institute of Education, she worked in academic publishing, first in the UK and later, after she emigrated to the United States in 1990, in the US. This is where our paths first crossed, in the Bay Area, where she lives now.

In my past life I managed all of the West Coast reps for a major higher-education publisher, and Jacqueline was, for a short time, one of our key reps in the Bay Area. Following a very bad spill from a horse, which necessitated a long recovery time, she embarked on her life-long dream to become a writer. And boy has she been successful in that endeavor!

Jacqueline's grandfather was severely wounded and shell-shocked at The Battle of The Somme in 1916 during WWI, and, even as a youngster, she became deeply interested in this war and its long-lasting effects. She continues to conduct extensive research into the time period. In fact, I remember once at a meeting I asked her what she was reading and she mentioned something about a text on British nurses in WWI, and I remember thinking "how odd." Little did I know!

Her first novel, Maisie Dobbs, was a New York Times Notable Book 2003 and was nominated for seven awards, including the Edgar for Best Novel -- only the second time a debut novel had been nominated in that category. She subsequently won the prestigious Agatha Award for Best First novel, the Macavity Award for Best First Novel; and the Alex Award, which is presented annually by the American Library Association in conjunction with the Margaret Alexander Edwards Trust.

Her sixth novel, Among the Mad, has recently been released in paperback. I ran into Jackie at a bookseller meeting in San Jose last weekend, and she wanted to say "hi" to her readers in Portland. If you haven't read any of the books in this mystery series, I strongly recommend them, and you can really start anywhere, but starting with the first is always a reasonable idea. They are well written and well supported with background information and they feature a wonderfully strong and enjoyable female lead character.

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