Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mr. Churchill's Secretary

Title: Mr. Churchill's Secretary

Author: Susan Elia MacNeal

Publisher: Bantam / Random House Digital, Inc.

Series: Maggie Hope Mystery, Bk 1

ISBN: 9780553907568

Size: 1968 KB ; 384 pages

Obtained: Library / Kindle copy

Why this book?:

I was looking at historical mysteries on NoveList and this came up.  It finishes the Historical Mystery Reading Challenge 2013 for me.


It's May 1940.  Churchill is in need of a new secretary and Maggie's drafted to fill in the position.  She's in the unique position of having been born in Britain, but raised in America.  She's a graduate of Wellesley and was about to go on for a doctoral degree in mathematics from M.I.T. when she had to go to London to attend the sale of her deceased grandmother's house.  Of course things didn't go as planned and here she is, still here, being passed for the private secretary position she applied to and taking on the role of secretary/typist.

The history: England is now joining the war (WWII).  The mystery: Plots and threats and terrorism during war time and involving politics.

There were several speeches by Churchill that are apparently fiction? (what's the point?), but I suppose they set the scene.  Speaking of which, sometimes I found myself drifting when the description became too much at once.

My knowledge of history is sadly lacking.  Partially because I don't retain much of what I learn and partially because I like to tune out current events and sometimes that means I tune out historical events as well.  I'm sure that makes me sound horrible, but there it is.  The point is, anytime I read a book like this, it offers new and interesting perspective that I may not have appreciated otherwise.  For example:

Just think, this is just over a decade before Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce books.  This is the war Flavia's father fought in.  While this is London and Flavia's story is set in the country, this is what England had gone through.  From one fictional work to another, but still... interesting.

As far as the characters are concerned... I liked Maggie, but she could really get on her high horse.  Guess it was supposed to be that fiery red-headed temper.  The surrounding cast all contributed the the story and what was happening well.  I guessed who the bad guy was once I realized the connection, but that didn't detract from watching everything unravel after that.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and will probably read the next book, Princess Elizabeth's Spy.

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