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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 (905 )
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  •  
    Jan H. Wolfe 03-29-13

    Theatrician

    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "Surprising Spy novel"
    What did you love best about Mr. Churchill's Secretary?

    This delightful book slowly and carefully brings one into England during the beginning of World War II with interesting characters: The world before women were accepted into the upper echelons of politics; the world of Winston Churchill's office. And suddenly, it becomes a mystery to unwind and evolves into a full-fledged spy novel with just a touch of romance. This was most enjoyable and I will make it a point to follow this series.


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

    Can't give that away. It is, after all, a spy novel.


    Have you listened to any of Wanda McCaddon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This was new to me.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deirdre 03-04-13
    Deirdre 03-04-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyable Read"
    Where does Mr. Churchill's Secretary rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I like this book better than most of the other books I have listened to.


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

    It is similar to "Her Royal Spyness". It is set in a similar era, british, female heronie.


    Any additional comments?

    The book starts off slow, and it's a little jumpy shirting perspectives. It does address some thought provoking ideologies regarding war that I found interesting.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    HIII 12-07-12
    HIII 12-07-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brave Britons"

    It seems World War II never looses its appeal. Inspite of being hard to believe during some of the story this was entertaining.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jose Chula Vista, CA, United States 11-13-12
    jose Chula Vista, CA, United States 11-13-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Entertaining, nice, soft, good historical images"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Mr. Churchill's Secretary to be better than the print version?

    I do not know.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Maggie. Focused, brave, intelligent, non-selfconcious beauty.


    Have you listened to any of Wanda McCaddon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    None really. Meeting her father is the most moving, but then not very much.


    Any additional comments?

    Good plot. Good listen (great reader). Not as crude or violent as other novels of the same genre.Historical references to London at the onset of the war, were interesting.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christina Stanwood, WA, United States 07-23-12
    Christina Stanwood, WA, United States 07-23-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Jean Sindhikara New Jersey 07-04-15
    Jean Sindhikara New Jersey 07-04-15 Member Since 2013

    Teacher/Mom Jean

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Accent of reader ruins authenticity"
    If you could sum up Mr. Churchill's Secretary in three words, what would they be?

    Intrigue in the offices of Winston Churchill's office at the height of WWII.


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

    Speeches by Winston Churchill


    How could the performance have been better?

    Reader must have an authentic American accent, especially since lead character is American. Other accents, even some of the British, seem exaggerated.


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

    No. It took a while to get into.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TeeShirtBroker Austin 06-23-15
    TeeShirtBroker Austin 06-23-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Not exactly compelling"

    Premise here seemed interesting. Ie. WWII setting, smart. Female protagonist (Wellesley, summa cum laude graduate)., who btw is also beautiful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-26-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Love the historical context"
    If you could sum up Mr. Churchill's Secretary in three words, what would they be?

    Intriguing, humerous, historical


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

    The interactions with Winston Churchill, which I hope were based upon someone's actual recollection, were humanizing.


    Have you listened to any of Wanda McCaddon’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No- this was the first.


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

    It was simply a good, interesting listen.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mickey Lincoln, NE, United States 04-03-15
    Mickey Lincoln, NE, United States 04-03-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Winspear with humor"

    Great characters, vivid description of lives of Britains at beginning of WWII. Looking forward to reading rest of the series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer 02-21-15
    Jennifer 02-21-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So many threats, boy does she meet the challenge!"

    Quite a story... Multiple threads following multiple threats from multiple directions! I liked how the threads were woven together, where each was only revealed bit by bit as the plot progressed.

    Maggie certainly is an impressive and intelligent young woman - I nearly yelled with her at the injustice she faced, and I loved her outbursts. Not afraid to speak her mind. She had some good friends too, I liked John and David right away.

    Hard to imagine what life was like then though, even though MacNeal describes all of the wartime conditions, it almost doesn't sound real from this distance... the rations and threat of bombs falling, not to mention those from the IRA.

    Without giving spoilers, I can say that while I sensed the direction of developments, I did not see some of the twists coming. I expected her finding the code wouldn't get a great reception, but what a thrilling sequence followed from there! It was high tension action, and it just kept coming and coming as more pieces to the puzzle were revealed. I caught myself holding my breath at least a few times. After everything, I laughed when Maggie expressed the same thought I had had for some time - what a story to tell her aunt!

    I don't know much about Churchill, but I think he was written well, I got the impression he was portrayed fairly accurately, and his private comments to Maggie amused me. Seemed fitting, given his style of thinking and communicating, with just "KOP" and "kicking!", heh. Such insight tucked in with the rest of the mystery was interesting, and kept it firmly rooted.

    Narration was really good. Multiple accents, done well for both women and men. Someone who can voice Churchill and the 'Dingbells' (and several other folks in between) certainly gets my kudos. First time I think I've ever encountered the case of a British-narrated book with an American-accented protagonist. Only noted one slip or two where John had Maggie's/ narration voice, but it was made clear from context. The only thing which I would have asked to make this top notch would have been to add a vocal distinction for Maggie's thoughts, as we were often given them in tandem with dialogue, so they often sounded as if said aloud.

    Wonderful story. Look forward to reading further books where Maggie can use her talents in a more appropriate setting and contribute more than she could as a typist.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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