Winspear tackles discrimination in the London of the 1930s as her detective Maisie Dobbs investigates the death of an Indian immigrant, a former ayah with a British family. The woman, Usha Pramal, branched off on her own after she was dismissed by the family, and was living in a hostel for ayahs. As Maisie investigates Usha’s life and death, she struggles to understand Usha’s motivations for journeying from India to London and seeks to unlock the secrets of what kept Usha in London so long, her circumstances, her past, and the things that may have led to her death. Then another Indian ayah dies in a similar fashion, adding more layers to the mystery.
Reading a Maisie Dobbs novel feels like spending time with an old friend. I’m particularly fond of Maisie as a character, and I appreciate how much has changed in her life over the course of the series. Leaving Everything Most Loved raises the stakes and follows through on numerous storylines in the lives of Maisie and her assistants that have been building for the last several books.
In Leaving Everything Most Loved, Maisie shines brightly. The shared themes of travel, love, loss, and family inhabit the mystery at the center of the novel as well as Maisie’s personal life. Solving Usha Pramal’s murder is satisfying, but the heart of this novel is Maisie’s internal struggles.
Not only is Leaving Everything Most Loved the most emotional Maisie novel yet, it represents a dynamic turning point for the series.