Susan Elia MacNeal introduced the remarkable Maggie Hope in her acclaimed debut, Mr. Churchill's Secretary. Now Maggie returns to protect Britain's beloved royals against an international plot - one that could change the course of history.
As World War II sweeps the continent and England steels itself against German attack, Maggie Hope, former secretary to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, completes her training to become a spy for MI-5. Spirited, strong-willed, and possessing one of the sharpest minds in government for mathematics and code-breaking, she fully expects to be sent abroad to gather intelligence for the British front. Instead, to her great disappointment, she is dispatched to go undercover at Windsor Castle, where she will tutor the young Princess Elizabeth in math. Yet castle life quickly proves more dangerous - and deadly - than Maggie ever expected.
The upstairs-downstairs world at Windsor is thrown into disarray by a shocking murder, which draws Maggie into a vast conspiracy that places the entire royal family in peril. And as she races to save England from a most disturbing fate, Maggie realizes that a quick wit is her best defense, and that the smallest clues can unravel the biggest secrets, even within her own family.
©2012 Susan Elia Macneal (P)2012 Random House Audio
trying to see the world with my ears
I found the first novel in this series dull and anachronistic, with over-the-top action near the end, but I hoped that, like much series fiction, character and storyline might be stronger as the series (and author) developed.
Book 2 has some good historical background, but it's delivered more pedantically. Modern YA exchanges continue among the YA characters - other parts of the the novel are more period authentic -- except for some lapses in scene/dialogue such as when King George is teaching Queen E how to shoot a pistol on the back lawn of Buckingham Palace - with Hitler on the target-- and Churchill wanders up says something like, "Between you and me, we may have won the Battle of Britain, but we can't rule out invasion yet." Some of the more obvious history background (King Edward abdicated to marry Mrs Simpson!) is spelled out in way too much detail - so lovers of period fiction will be bored.
I am a large consumer of 19th and 20th C historical mysteries of all types, but I'll pass on future instalments of this one unless I read some solid reviews first.
It IS a good PG listen, however, and that is worth some praise! And if I were younger I might identify more with the main characters' concerns to get past the novel's weaknesses.
You'll either love or hate the narration: The narrator is obviously talented, but the production choices seem to me questionable. The style is much too theatrical (and vowels not Brit enough) for my ears -- too staged a performance. Wanda MacAdam/Doneda Peters from Book 1 was a better choice to my ears, but like Wanda, my ears are a little old for this novel.
The narrator does fine when "in character" however when nobody is "talking" she is awful
Trying to make turning on taps suspenseful coming across as stuff and unemotional instead!
Bring back Wanda McCaddon
I had to stop listening and will need to get this book in print in order to finish it. The narrator's "upspeak", as another reviewer aptly described the way she ends EVERY sentence with a melodramatic upward lilt, is beyond irritating, as is her voice for Maggie (main character) and her voices for German speaking characters. I really enjoyed the first book in this series (different narrator) and feel as though I'd enjoy the story of the second one, but I can not listen to another minute of it. I'm very disappointed.
no. I would recommend reading this book, not listening. Susan Duerdon has too modern a speaking style with her "up speak" ending every phrase with a high note.
Bring back Wanda McCaddon. Susan Duerdon might be great narrating a modern novel where the characters speak in that irritating modern upspeak (the high rising terminal I just learned from Wiki). No one talked remotely like that until the last decade or so. Having a characters from 1939 speak with such a modern accent is as irritating as any other inaccurate and inappropriate accent. I could not get lost in the story which is why I love to listen to audio books.
yes it was quite interesting
what I expected
I did not like the narrator I found her voice very tiresome
I have already recommended this series and book ... it is a great story & listen ... the narrator is very animated and you know just from her vocalizations who the character is speaking ... it is a very well thought out mystery with some great twists and turns ... I love the continued respect given by the author for this strong female character ... this series makes me think of of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series ... this is a great all round mystery!
Good pacing with the mystery plot ... you remember, know & are ready to hear the story from the beginning of the narration of the story
This series is definitely worth the credits!
The first book was much stronger as a period piece and a story. This one was rather too predictable.
I might read the third book to find out if the series gets back on track. I won't get it from Audible if Susan Duerdan reads it.
Ms. Duerdan's very breathy, sing song cadence was terribly distracting, especially for the third person narration. Some of the character voices were OK; most were also subject to the distracting cadence. This has not been a feature of her other narrations; one can only think that this book was very oddly directed.
Unfortunately, the characters which should probably not be there are fairly central to the story. (1) Main bad guy. (2) Sadly, very sadly, Princess Elizabeth. Luckily, she seems to have grown up MUCH smarter and all around better than portrayed here.
I would recommend the print version. The reader had a deplorable tendency to drop her voice at the end of each sentence. I listened to and enjoyed Mr. Churchill's Secretary which was read by, I believe, a different person. The story and plot of both are engaging. I really enjoy listening to an audio book unless the reader gets in the way of that enjoyment.
Mr. Churchill's Secretary.
I think so. I listened all the way to the end and managed to stay pretty engaged despite my personal dislike of the way the book was read.
I think it is important to realize that of course, what one person finds distracting, will not bother another person. So, take this review with a grain of salt. I'm sure reading is a very challenging job.
I truly enjoyed the first Maggie Hope Mystery, and expected to like this one as well. I can't believe this is even the same author. The characters are small and one dimensional. The main character, Maggie is ridiculously uninteresting, helpless and childlike (a problem exacerbated by the narrator's performance). It might fly for a youth novel, but I would hope even teenagers have higher standards. Skip it.
I enjoyed both of these witty novels featuring Maggie Hope--a combination of social and political commentary and thriller (of the less intense sort) set in England at the start of WWII. This second book, however, is marred by the quality of the reading. I hate to say anything negative about someone who did such an admirable job in many ways, particularly her use of different voices for various characters, but her sing-songy cadence sentence by sentence was so distracting that at times I found it hard to listen. I persevered and I'm glad I did,but unless Duerden can overcome this very unhelpful vocal tic, I can't recommend books read by her.
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