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
“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)
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.
This book is representative of the dilemma I have with listening to books rather than reading them. If I had read this book I could have skimmed the overly adequate historical pieces and still enjoyed the rousing story. The narration was okay though her use of accents was tedious at times
Yes, I already have!
Not just one many. The suspense just kept going on and on.
She was great. She really helped me to visualize the time and place
I found myself unable to stop the recording and ended up staying up most of one night.
The pace was a bit slow and story line was predictible, but overal it was a fun listen and worth my time.
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.
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.
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.
I loved the Churchill moments. It gave me a feeling of being in the same room as he went through his day.
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.
I'll continue to read the series. I enjoy Maggie's story and there a new voice reading the book.
At the beginning of this book I feared it was going to be slow moving and hard to follow. I made notes of characters names and occupations. That helped me keep things straight. Once the situation was described the pace picked up. I had no trouble following the plot.
As the action picked up, I was fully involved and found it difficult to stop listening.
There are plot points that deal with World War II and plot points that deal with Maggie Hope's personal life.
I was fascinated by the historical information about WWII. It gave me a feeling of how life might have been for a citizen of London during that time.
There is violence, however the descriptions are not overly graphic. There is some rude language, but it is kept to a minimum and very approriate to the situations in which it is used.
There is at least one more book in this series and I plan to read it.
I could not understand the narrator.
The problem was that the narrator was attempting to create several voices, all with a British accent. They became garbled and very difficult to understand. I gave up after abour 50 minutes. Also, the story had not begun to form much of a plot as of that time.
I was disappointed. I had hoped for a complex mystery series comparable to the Maisie Dobbs series. While the reader did a good job, the story was too predictable to keep my attention. I will have to keep looking.
I haven't read the printed version-- but I'll say YES, based on a phenomenal performance by Wanda McCaddon. What an outstanding voice actor....both male and female voices, various accents (Irish, English, American). This is a definite 5 stars for me!
Stellar representation of Prime Minister Winston Churchill!
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