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Mr. Churchill's Secretary: A Maggie Hope Novel, Book 1 | [Susan Elia MacNeal]

Mr. Churchill's Secretary: A Maggie Hope Novel, Book 1

London, 1940: Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined....
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Publisher's Summary

For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary captures the drama of an era of unprecedented challenge - and the greatness that rose to meet it.

London, 1940: Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined - and opportunities she will not let pass.

In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.

In this daring debut, Susan Elia MacNeal blends meticulous research on the era, psychological insight into Winston Churchill, and the creation of a riveting main character, Maggie Hope, into a spectacularly crafted novel.

©2012 Susan Elia Macneal (P)2012 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

“This wonderful debut is intelligent, richly detailed, and filled with suspense.” (Stefanie Pintoff)

“A terrific read.... Chock full of fascinating period details and real people including Winston Churchill, MacNeal’s fast-paced thriller gives a glimpse of the struggles, tensions, and dangers of life on the home front during World War II.” (Rhys Bowen, author of Royal Blood and winner of the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards)

“Think early Ken Follett, amp it up with a whip-smart young American not averse to red lipstick and vintage cocktails, season it with espionage during the London Blitz, and you’ve got a heart-pounding, atmospheric debut. I loved it.” (Cara Black, author of Murder in Passy)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (782 )
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4.1 (687 )
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  •  
    Christina Stanwood, WA, United States 07-23-12
    Christina Stanwood, WA, United States 07-23-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Wonderful!!!"
    If you could sum up Mr. Churchill's Secretary in three words, what would they be?

    The three words I would use would be, wonderful. engaging, and thrilling.


    What other book might you compare Mr. Churchill's Secretary to and why?

    This book is fabulous I wouldn't want to compare it to anything. I can't wait for the next book, I love the different view of history.


    Which character – as performed by Wanda McCaddon – was your favorite?

    I loved Maggie Hope. This book made me root for her.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    YES!


    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Wells 08-19-14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Delightful Historical Mystery"
    Would you listen to Mr. Churchill's Secretary again? Why?

    I like the audiobook but not sure I would listen to it again. There isn't enough meat to it to require me reading it again.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Moderately.


    What three words best describe Wanda McCaddon’s voice?

    If Wanda McCaddon is the main narrator then I do like her voice and she is definitely skilled. Having said that, I got distracted by her American accent at times. It distracted me from the story and I hyperfocused on her pronunciations. Mostly it's noticable when she is going between the british and american accents. Since the main character grew up in America, it would be better to have it narrated by someone with a stronger, more fluid american accent. Overall, I thought it was great!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, but I can only listen during my commute unfortunately.


    Any additional comments?

    I like the historical background stories. It really adds to the overall book and since it combines my two favorites, history and mystery, I plan to read the next in the series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    USA Buyer COLDWATER, MI, United States 08-10-14
    USA Buyer COLDWATER, MI, United States 08-10-14 Member Since 2010

    Spartan Reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Audio Book"
    Where does Mr. Churchill's Secretary rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It would rank near the top. Great plot that moves along and not side tracked my meaningless dialog.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The History and life in wartime London. The personality of Maggie Hope. Not over played just great reading.


    What does Wanda McCaddon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Great. Voices were hard to adjust but did so quickly. Great job.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It was a fun book. Easy listening and great plot. I would highly recommend this book as a must read. Blend of history and plot. Great characters.


    Any additional comments?

    Must read book and series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Purcell Seattle, WA United States 07-26-14
    Kathleen Purcell Seattle, WA United States 07-26-14 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    3
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    "I am totally hooked on the story"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I already have!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Mr. Churchill's Secretary?

    Not just one many. The suspense just kept going on and on.


    What does Wanda McCaddon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She was great. She really helped me to visualize the time and place


    Any additional comments?

    I found myself unable to stop the recording and ended up staying up most of one night.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    carina OREGON CITY, OR, United States 06-26-14
    carina OREGON CITY, OR, United States 06-26-14 Member Since 2010

    Retired teacher

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "War Within a War"
    Would you listen to Mr. Churchill's Secretary again? Why?

    This is my second listen to this story. Enjoyed it the second time even more.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Mr. Churchill's Secretary?

    A conversation between Maggy and Claire/Page when they are tied up together.


    Which character – as performed by Wanda McCaddon – was your favorite?

    Maggy, of course. However, I really liked David too.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No extreme reaction to the overall book, but an emotional understanding of the bombing of London.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a good story about the trials of WWII and Londoners lives durning these years.
    I also learned more about the IRA issues.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Holmes Barrington, RI, United States 04-24-14
    Elizabeth Holmes Barrington, RI, United States 04-24-14 Member Since 2012

    ~Beth

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Okay, but a bit slow."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The pace was a bit slow and story line was predictible, but overal it was a fun listen and worth my time.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sharon san diego, california, United States 02-13-14
    sharon san diego, california, United States 02-13-14 Member Since 2007

    love to read and love audio books!Favorite authors: Marcia Willett,Nevil Shute,Mary Stewart,and Jacqueline Winspear. I could go on and on but wont bore you! I belong to a book group and we often" Listen" to the books we have selected for the month while using a paper copy for the discussion notes. It really enhances the quality of the story.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Did not Like This...."

    The book is a childish attempt to give us a history lesson on WW2. Terrible dialogue,
    and a silly plot. I did not even finish it. No more Susan MacNeal for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lanna S. Seuret Sacramento, California 10-28-13
    Lanna S. Seuret Sacramento, California 10-28-13 Member Since 2012

    Artist & Journeyman Composter

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Taught Me Real Life in Britain in WW II"
    Any additional comments?

    Unlike another reviewer who said she was too old to be sympathetic to the heroine's adventures and romantic development, I, though a middler, have family issues that made this story human, evocative, real, and opened up a part of global history previously closed. Hitler probably expected his Blitzkrieg to flatten every country in its path, but Britain was different, by circumstance, pluck, fellow feeling, and determined persistence despite horrors.

    Maggie Hope, the protagonist, was born a British citizen, but was raised in the USA by a maiden lesbian aunt upon the putative death of her parents. A grandmother dies, leaving her a beautiful but aging Victorian in Britain, forcing Maggie's return. She comes from a brilliant family; her forte, and charmed love which keeps her emotionally balanced is mathematics and puzzle solving and she is in the middle of advanced studies which she is loathe to leave.

    When the house doesn't sell due to the onslaught of the war, she decides to stay, and upon invitation, applies for a position as Churchill's typist. The real secretarial jobs were entitled "Personal Secretary" and were reserved for elite young British men who did research rather than take dictation. I loved how she met and made friends with others her age, all unique characters, which formed a supportive and diverse bond.

    Using this opportunity to find out more about her parents, she looks for clues as to her father's past, as he worked as a mathematician at one of the colleges. Her curiosity must be satisfied, despite the attempts by her auntie to dissuade her from this search. Maggie is not only very bright, but quite determined.

    Thus ensues her adventures pursuing her double purpose: to find out more about her family, and to fulfill herself as a potentially valuable code breaker.

    The insights into Churchill's character, the delightful slow development of her love life,
    the real historical events interwoven just as we would have experienced them had we
    been there, the closeness and support of her friends, the feminist issues of male preference and denigration of women's abilities, the inclusion of gay and lesbian characters and how they coped in a still prejudiced society, her physical courage and willingness to
    take risks were all pleasing to me and made a good story.

    The narrator did well with all the British voices, but was inconsistent with Maggie's American accent, sometimes sounding a bit Irish, or using incorrect vowels, but was overall quite acceptable. The only other criticism, which may or may not be helpful, was
    the amount of physical terrors and events in the second half. I kept expecting THIS climax to be the final one, but there were many, and I was probably staying up too late and getting tired.

    Nevertheless, the author tied up everything nicely, and did create sufficient interest to continue. I love learning about history through the feelings and experiences of people who were there. (However, the narrator changed, and has a more meanly violent voice for the tough guys, and has a singsong delivery otherwise, often ending on an up sound for the end of a sentence rather than a down note. I found it rather like being on a roller coaster,which was too distracting, and ruined the harmony of delivery. Perhaps I shall get the books.)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    anne LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 10-08-13
    anne LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 10-08-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Probably Would Have Liked When I Was 15"

    I guess I was expecting something like the Josephine Tey detective series by Nicola Upson. The story line is good, and the characters well developed (well, except for the main protagonist-she came across as a meek mannered girl things just "happened to".)

    I think I would have really enjoyed this book when I was a teen. It just doesn't have the bite I was expecting.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Archer.373 09-08-13
    Archer.373 09-08-13
    ratings
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    19
    6
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    Story
    "Took me by surprize"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I'd have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this audio. I thought it was going to be a "fluffy" type audio but instead I found an entertaining, historical mystery.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Mr. Churchill's Secretary?

    I loved the Churchill moments. It gave me a feeling of being in the same room as he went through his day.


    What three words best describe Wanda McCaddon’s voice?

    I found her voice lacking. It was difficult to recognize some of the characters. That being said, with intense listening, I was able to enjoy the story.


    Any additional comments?

    I'll continue to read the series. I enjoy Maggie's story and there a new voice reading the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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