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  • Maisie Dobbs

  • By: Jacqueline Winspear
  • Narrated by: Rita Barrington
  • Length: 10 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5,360
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,487
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,481

Maisie Dobbs isn't just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence - and the patronage of her benevolent employers - she works her way into college at Cambridge. After the War I and her service as a nurse, Maisie hangs out her shingle back at home: M. DOBBS, TRADE AND PERSONAL INVESTIGATIONS. But her very first assignment soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A delightful discovery

  • By Lori on 08-07-09

A Dull Heroine and Shaky Story

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-22-18

How could Winspear have whizzed away such a neat idea like a cozy mystery set in the aftermath of the Great War? Mostly by starring a heroine that would get even Mary Poppins to low-key mumble, "Get a load of her..."

Maisie Dobbs is dull as rocks
========================
There's nothing interesting about ol' Maisie, despite miles of backstory. What is she actually good at? Reading, I guess. And getting up at 3 in the morning. And getting everything she wants by pulling sheer luck, and the grace of god, right oughtta her butt.

Maisie Dobbs is an angel, and a big fat hypocrite
====================================
First of all, she's not a good detective. She relies on "instinct" and honest-to-god vague psychic powers. She "gets" people. Maisie goes on an eye-rolling rant at the end where she reveals all the puzzle pieces she put together -- as though she did anything more interesting than send her dumb handyman into danger and waited out the situation.

And secondly, Maisie is a terrible, terrible friend, like...

* She befriends a man's wife she's secretly paid to stalk

All of this would've been interesting...if the book acknowledged how wrong she is. But with one exception, everyone in the world seems to think she's so perfect and everything works out anyway. For the longest time, the closest we get to Maisie looking flawed and human is when she (briefly) needs to pee.

All other characters are props for Maisie to use
===================================
I'm starting to think Winspear never met an actual human being out in the wild. In my experience, I've found that they are pretty complex things, in general, with needs and wants that have nothing at all to do with Maisie Dobbs.

Like Billy, a cockney bloke with a simple but folksy way of thinking. He also has a missus, apparently, but literally drops everything for Maisie (a woman he met only once before years ago).

And don't get me started on Simon, her boytoy, the doctor who is ever-so-patient and understanding. They don't have impure thoughts -- they have meaningful looks at each other. They seem to fall in love just because they danced together. And because the reader might start thinking Maisie was just plain sexless!

Narrator is either sing-songy or monotone
===============================
The narrator's voice is mostly inoffensive, but it drones on and on. And she bizarrely gives all cockney characters thunderously inappropriate sing-songy voices, which is super distracting when you have characters talking about PTSD and the war.

(She also uses more than one voice for Maisie's dad...and switches between the two more than once).

World War I is lazily used to fluff up a lame story
=====================================
The parts that concentrate on the horrors of World War I were interesting, but it's just dressing. I keep seeing the word "researched" bandied around, as though Winspear really cracked open one of history's mysteries. She manages to simultaneously sensationalize and sanitize the War so she can fit Maisie into it.

Then Winspear goes and genuinely suggests a broken heart is worse than freaking shrapnel to the face. Gag me. I'm done.

  • Word by Word

  • The Secret Life of Dictionaries
  • By: Kory Stamper
  • Narrated by: Kory Stamper
  • Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 275
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 257
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 255

While most of us might take dictionaries for granted, the process of writing them is in fact as lively and dynamic as language itself. With sharp wit and irreverence, Kory Stamper cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography - from the agonizing decisions about what and how to define to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Kory should narrate more Audible books!

  • By R. Stern on 04-24-17

How The Sausage Gets Made At Merriam Webster

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-07-18

Kory Stamper, I hope you read these reviews, because golly-day would I like to thank you. When I heard that Stamper wrote a book about dictionaries, it was a definite no-brainer to get my hands on this.

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries is all about how the sausage gets made. With a little bit of memoir mixed in, Stamper celebrates the English language and the cat-herding task of trying to define what the hell its words mean. There's a redemption story for 'irregardless,' an examination of its vs it's, war stories of defining boondoggles like 'surfboard,' and lots of playful (and sometimes pointed) jabs at attempts to moralize and police a living, breathing language.

Stamper brings the same friendly attitude she has used in Merriam-Webster's "Ask the Editor" video series since 2010 (which made me into an instant fan. I could listen all day about the curious case of 'octopus' and its many plurals). She is also definitely not afraid to wield her dorky sense of humor for good or for evil -- your mileage may vary with that, since it's repeatedly bonked on your head that this book was authored by a geeky introvert...but I personally found it genuine. Any flaw this book may have is overridden by the delight of reading someone who is truly in love with what they do for a living.

I sure hope Stamper writes more, because she has a knack as an educator. It was also nice of her to take a break from her group of fellow word gnomes tinkering away somewhere, hissing at noises and prospecting newspaper article clippings for linguistic gold, and then share with us a little bit of that gold.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful