The Secret Guests

A Novel
Narrated by: Barrie Kreinik
Length: 8 hrs and 46 mins
3.7 out of 5 stars (44 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"When you're done binge-watching The Crown, pick up this multifaceted wartime thriller." (Kirkus Reviews)

As London endures nightly German bombings, Britain’s secret service whisks the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret from England, seeking safety for the young royals on an old estate in Ireland.

Ahead of the German Blitz during World War II, English parents from every social class sent their children to the countryside for safety, displacing more than three million young offspring. In The Secret Guests, the British royal family takes this evacuation a step further, secretly moving the princesses to the estate of the Duke of Edenmore in “neutral” Ireland. 

A female English secret agent, Miss Celia Nashe, and a young Irish detective, Garda Strafford, are assigned to watch over “Ellen” and “Mary” at Clonmillis Hall. But the Irish stable hand, the housemaid, the formidable housekeeper, the Duke himself, and other Irish townspeople, some of whom lost family to English gunshots during the War of Independence, go freely about their business in and around the great house. Soon suspicions about the guests’ true identities percolate, a dangerous boredom sets in for the princesses, and, within and without Clonmillis acreage, passions as well as stakes rise. 

Benjamin Black, who has good information that the princesses were indeed in Ireland for a time during the Blitz, draws listeners into a novel as fascinating as the nascent career of Miss Nashe, as tender as the homesickness of the sisters, as intriguing as Irish-English relations during WWII, and as suspenseful and ultimately action-packed as war itself.

©2020 Benjamin Black (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about The Secret Guests

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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Not as Advertised

I did not like this book. I thought it was to be about Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret (fictionalized) during the perils of WW2 and the blitz. It was really about Ireland and the longtime simmering problems of the IRA and resentment of the Irish against the Brits. None of the characters were likeable. The portrayal of the princesses was less that attractive and" Mary" (as Margaret) at 10 years old was a BRAT. Elizabeth was portrayed as Distant and arrogant. Having read the book written by their Nanny/governess Crawford year ago I expected more. I will not read another book by this author.

1 person found this helpful

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Nothing much ado

Would not have taken the trouble to read. The story feels very English, though set in Ireland. Not enough action. Only Strafford attracted me. I did not care much about the rest. There is no real denouement

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Good but disappointing endin

Well done and interesting up until the end. Characters were intriguing but the gap at the end was a cop out.

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  • me
  • 03-15-20

Think really hard before buying this

Immense disappointment. It was a slog to finish this with its slow pace, loose plots and underdeveloped characters. Even Barrie Kreinik’s excellent performance could not rescue this. The only other good thing is the book was short.

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Long awaited new book delivers!

Loved all Benjamin Black's books. Nice piece of fiction.The narrator annoyed me by not being able to imitate Irish accents and if she did,some were from the North for no reason or without explanation.

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I love Benjamin Black

Especially his Quirke series. This is wonderfully written, but the plot is predictable, much less complex, and just not as absorbing.