Mr. Churchill's Secretary
By Susan Elia MacNeal
What the publisher wants you to know:
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.
What I want to share with you:
I love this book! Susan Elia MacNeal has crafted a smart, fun and inquisitive character in Maggie Hope. Maggie's an American student, on her way to study at MIT. Maggie's been raised by an aunt after the deaths of her parents in a car accident in London. When a grandmother she's never known dies, she inherits her grandmother's London home. So off Maggie goes, at the beginning days of WWII, to see about selling the home. Because of the war's onset, Maggie is trapped in London. She's unable to sell the home and quickly goes about renting out its rooms to a quirky and interesting group of supporting players. Susan Elia MacNeal opens the book with the death of a young woman. I love it when the action starts before you turn too many pages.
Make no mistake, this isn't a fluffy piece of historical fiction, or maybe more precisely, a fictional historical mystery. Trust no one you meet in Mr. Churchill's Secretary, as not all are whom they seem to be and Maggie comes to realize that her world and the people in it, aren't always who and what she thought they were.
Susan's character Maggie, reminds be just a teeny bit of the "Maisey Dobbs" character, in that they are both incredibly smart, young and are a bit miffed that because they are "female" they are limited in what the world around them allows them to do. Maggie Hope is her own modern woman and she fights to claim her own place in the world, even if it's not quite the way she expected it to be.
Susan Elia MacNeal's research is incredibly detailed and accurate as needed historically. The story unwinds at a good pace and that makes it a very easy and enjoyable read. For me, the book moved quickly and smoothly and the characters and settings were perfect for me to suspend my disbelief.
I'm excited to learn that there will be four more Maggie Hope books for us to enjoy, the next two will be, in order, Princess Elizabeth's Spy out this fall and then Hitler's Nightgale and a fourth that's still unnamed.
I give Mr. Churchill's Secretary 4 out of 5 stars! It's great, just read it!
**I received this book through a GOODREADS early reader giveaway from the publisher, and this is my honest review of the book.