What I Like Best About Maisie Dobbs…Posted: April 5, 2011
…is her loneliness. That might sound odd, but there are moments which are so deeply alone for this character, that the powerful, relentless poignancy at the heart of her motivations just strikes me again. When Maisie is attacked in the most recent installment The Mapping of Love and Death, and her leather document case is stolen, her memories of receiving the case, it’s comforting presence while she embarks on her university studies, then it’s put away while she serves as a nurse during The Great War and then comes back out to accompany her through her apprenticeship with Maurice the psychologist and private investigator, and finally, scruffed and worn and repaired, it is her constant companion in her own detective work. Each step in her struggle to better herself and rise above her station is accompanied by that case. Without her talisman with her, how can she forge ahead on her own?:
Now, as she reflected upon her journey and the years past, she realized she had come this far and had no idea what might come next, or hwhat there might be for her to aspire to. She understood that she knew only how to climb mountains; having reached a certain place of elevation, she was unaccustomed to the view of the road already taken, and where her next steps might lead. Losing the document case had been akin to losing a suitcase of clothes on a very long journey. She knew neither the next destination, nor how she might prepare to travel (132).
In the middle of the narrative, to drop this soft, sad meditation in and further isolate the heroine…I truly enjoy the level of what’s at stake in Maisie’s path forward. Suspense is heightened deliciously with the narrowing of the story’s focus to a young woman’s profile in the firelight, a deeply longing, memory-shadowed, anxious breath before heading back out into the mystery’s dangerous landscape. Wonderful.