Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear

journey to munich

In this installment of the adventures of Maisey Dobbs, psychologist and detective, we find Maisey back in London in 1938, still reeling from the loss of her husband but trying to get back into her life.  Feeling like she needs to do something to help someone else – and possibly that she has nothing to lose – she accepts an assignment to go undercover as the daughter of a British businessman held prisoner by the Germans and now being released to her only.  To complicate her mission, she is also asked to bring back from Germany the one young woman Maisie holds most responsible for her husband’s death.  How will she accomplish both of these feats, especially under the careful watch of the Nazi government?

This book series is part detective novel/part historical fiction, with lots of human sensibility to warm up the mix.  Especially in this book, the kindness and forgiveness that Maisie shows, whether toward the man she is asked to bring home or toward the young woman who she is asked to find, shines so particularly bright compared to the darkness of the Nazi regime.  It is interesting that the timing of the story is actually just prior to the German invasion of Austria – really at the beginning of everything – but still she describes the feeling of foreboding, the pall of darkness that pervades the otherwise lively city.  The hope that Maisie clings to is in stark contrast to the evil that is lurking, that has been set into motion.

This is really not a “Holocaust” book per se, and while it is set in the time and place of the Holocaust it does not take the same emotional toll as those books do.  So if you’re planning your reading based on this, don’t worry that you’ll be taken through the same emotional rigors of that.  There is suspense and sadness, but not to the same extent as you would with other books from this period.

I do recommend this book heartily!  Happy reading!



The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin


Joanna has just moved out to the suburbs and is looking to meet new friends.  She notices that while the men in town have a club of their own (that does not allow women to be members), the women do not – and worse, are not even bothered by this.  As she digs deeper into the history of the town, she sees that at one point, there was a women’s club and the women in town actually were once interested in things beyond caring for their homes and their families.  Something was up and she and her one friend, Bobbie, would get to the bottom of it.  But hopefully they’d do it in time…

Yes, I was probably one of the only women who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s who never either read this book or saw the movie before – so I was curious.  Little did I know how utterly creepy this book would be!  The idea that men would turn women into automatons that would only do housework and child rearing was both disturbing and outrageous, and quite a statement for its time.  The theme of squelching those who stood up for the rights of women was probably fairly radical for the very early 70’s, when this first came out.

Funny, though, because it seems that while this futuristic/farcical novel was written so long ago, and much has changed, much is still the same.  In so many countries around the world, women are still treated as Stepford wives.  In fact, right here in the good ol’ USA, our likely Republican nominee for president is married to one.  (Her hobbies are “pilates and reading magazines,” according to the New Yorker.)

As to the writing of the book, it is suspenseful and eerie, but I did feel like there was a gaping hole at the end, where there should have been more explanation about what happened to the women and how the transformation was accomplished.  I felt there was almost too much left to the imagination.

But if you haven’t read it, it’s a quick read that does get you thinking…  which is what books are supposed to do!