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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 (826 )
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  •  
    Elinore 02-24-13
    Elinore 02-24-13
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    "Charming historical mystery"

    Enjoyed this book immensely and immediately recommended it to my mom. Perfect audiobook--just enough suspense.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Jeffrey Chene en Semine, France 02-15-13
    Mark Jeffrey Chene en Semine, France 02-15-13 Member Since 2012

    Brit Abroad. Nearly six hundred Audible books heard, many more than once. Yes I'm hooked.

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    "A good yarn, if you can overlook the errors"
    What did you like best about Mr. Churchill's Secretary? What did you like least?

    The reading was excellent, whoever she is! Donada Peters, or Nadia May, or whoever.The story is pacey, fairly complex, and weaves in some historical people and situations.


    What was most disappointing about Susan Elia MacNeal’s story?

    The story suffers from a large number of errors.Some of these are artistic license for the sake of the story (e.g. German spies in places where they would have done massive damage if they existed - don't want to spoil the story so can't say where).Some however are Americanisms of expression ("math", "wash up"), or blatant inaccuracies such as WRNS in brown uniforms which could have been picked up be a British editor. These were made more obvious by using an English reader.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The crazy professor.


    Do you think Mr. Churchill's Secretary needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    It's a good starting point, though the cascade of characters can be a bit daunting.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet H. Maddox 01-30-13
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    "Interesting book, well read"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this perspective on England's involvement in WWII. I have no way to ascertain the veracity of the depiction of Mr. Churchill or of his office as prime minister, but the story is certainly interesting. The narration is also excellent. Highly recommended for those who enjoy historical fiction or just a good read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JoAnn 01-29-13
    JoAnn 01-29-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Not Bad"

    This was to listen to especially because I like historical fiction. You could picture in your mind what was happening during the bombings and how the war impacted everyone. All in all, a good book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Coffee Virginia Beach, VA, United States 01-17-13
    Coffee Virginia Beach, VA, United States 01-17-13 Member Since 2012

    Coffee and a Book Chick

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    "Interesting Story, but the Wrong Narrator"

    I struggled with this one. It may be because my reading preferences have changed, or perhaps it was the narration, but any way you dice it, it didn't work for me. The narration for the main character of Maggie sounded much, much more mature than a twenty-four-year-old woman and while she may have grown up with her British aunt, she most assuredly did NOT sound like a woman who had grown up in Boston. It sounded as though the narrator tried desperately to deliver a "type" of American accent, but in fact, at several points throughout the narration, slipped into an odd Southern accent which was jarring. All the British characters sounded pretty much the same and it was rather difficult to identify who was who, other than a deeper voice for a man and a higher voice for a woman, so it was the most challenging to identify who was who when Maggie was only with her girlfriends. While the story was interesting, the narration couldn't maintain my attention and in fact took me three weeks to finish when it's only a little under ten hours of audio time. Unfortunately, I don't anticipate picking up the next in the series in audio. In reading other bloggers' reviews, it's clear I would have had a likelier chance for a better reaction had I read it instead. However, do take note of the majority of reviews on Audible.com, as it's evident others loved the audio. The average rating on Audible is 4 out of 5 stars for performance.

    Fans of Jacqueline Winspear and the like, who enjoy the cozy thriller and mystery experience, may like this story. I would recommend reading it versus listening to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    NormaB Surprise, AZ USA 01-14-13
    NormaB Surprise, AZ USA 01-14-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Interesting"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, story was not what I expected, even better.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Pace was good and lots of accurate detail about England at war.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betsy 01-14-13
    Betsy 01-14-13
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    "Engaging combo of historical fiction and mystery"
    Would you listen to Mr. Churchill's Secretary again? Why?

    Yes -- fascinating to imagine the characters in that historic time.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Maggie, the heroine.


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

    I liked her portrayal of Winston Churchill


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

    I didn't laugh or cry -- but I was reminded of what a difficult time this was for the British people.


    Any additional comments?

    Reminded me a lot of Trapeze.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TravisD 01-10-13
    TravisD 01-10-13

    Travis

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    "Pleasant Period Piece"
    Where does Mr. Churchill's Secretary rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Pleasant. Easy on the ears. I ran out of Rhys Bowen to listen to and tried this one. Not sorry, but not yet a "can't wait for the next one" series. I'll order the next one, but not sure about the third.


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

    Silly question for a mystery read. When the character reveals him/herself to be a scoundrel.


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

    Mine wasn't done by Wanda. It was Donada Peters, which is what the cover says, and she was very good. Get it straightened out, eh?


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

    Nope. Just very pleasant.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Roos Marietta, GA 01-09-13
    P. Roos Marietta, GA 01-09-13 Member Since 2005
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    "Good first book."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I like Mr. Churchill's Secretary! Like many first books in a series Ms. MacNeal wanted to tell you everything about everyone so some parts were tedious. Overall I enjoyed the book and I did not figure who the duplicitous character was until very near the revolution point. This was very cleverly done.

    I did find one mistake. I am not sure if it was written incorrectly and the editor missed it or if the narrator misspoke. However, it was Edward VIII who abdicated for the woman he loved not Edward VII.

    If found it easy to listen to as I drove to and from work. you can follow what is happening without taking away from paying attention to road.

    I plan to get the second book and will follow the series as it progresses.


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

    The last few chapters were the best but isn't that usually the case with a mystery. I particularly liked the last scene between Mr. Frame and Michael Murphy.


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

    Wanda McCaddon (Donada Peters) does a good job of narrating the book. Her lovely British accents are very well done and you just can't get that when reading. She does a darn good American accent for Maggie too.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Depending who was in the cast I would go see it. It might make a better "made for TV" movie than a feature film but still the casting is everything.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Auberry, CA, United States 01-08-13
    Kathy Auberry, CA, United States 01-08-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Plodding plot, and poorly developed characters..."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Time spent was okay since I commute an hour each way. But I almost bailed on the story. Just does not move well, not much of a plot, and in my opinion the character development seemed weak. I never seemed to really get a feel for each of the characters, poorly developed. Almost felt like Churchill was a cartoon-like character.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Susan Elia MacNeal again?

    Probably not...


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Narration was fine...but as with most audio files, chapter starts and finishes seemed clipped.


    Did Mr. Churchill's Secretary inspire you to do anything?

    Maybe spend a little more effort looking for a good historical novel dealing with this period.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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