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)
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.
Coffee and a Book Chick
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.
Yes, story was not what I expected, even better.
Pace was good and lots of accurate detail about England at war.
Yes -- fascinating to imagine the characters in that historic time.
Maggie, the heroine.
I liked her portrayal of Winston Churchill
I didn't laugh or cry -- but I was reminded of what a difficult time this was for the British people.
Reminded me a lot of Trapeze.
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.
Silly question for a mystery read. When the character reveals him/herself to be a scoundrel.
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?
Nope. Just very pleasant.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Narration was fine...but as with most audio files, chapter starts and finishes seemed clipped.
Maybe spend a little more effort looking for a good historical novel dealing with this period.
I really like the premise, but the writing is almost schoolgirl level. It is very predictable and never achieves any level of sophistication, The author has the girls thinking in the present way of thinking and not of the 1940s times so obviously no research was done into the way they thought, and talked back then. I know for I have done such research and was not impressed with this authors writing on it.
No, unless the script writer was amazing.
I am a one time English major, a lifelong reader, gardener, culinary experimenter, and fiber arts artisan. A perfect day for me is spent working with my hands while listening to an absorbing book. I love history and horticulture.
I enjoyed this book about young woman who finds herself working at Number 10 Downing Street during WWII. It reminded me of other books I had read that were set during the same period in England, but pleasantly so. I am a longtime reader of British Lit and fan of BBC TV. This book reminded me of the fantastic series Foyle's War, which I recently watched on Netflix. Some likable characters and a few surprises.
I'm not sure if any of my friends are interested in the same things I am. This book did not shake my tree. The performance was quite good. The basic idea was intriguing. It was a bit of a cookie cutter type style.
WWII and Churchill
There were interesting tid bits.
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