Mr. Churchill’s Secretary (Maggie Hope Mystery #1) by Susan Elia MacNeal
I give this book a 3.
First thing I want to admit is that I’m just now becoming acquainted with historical fiction in books. In the cinema it has always been one of my favorite genres, but I’ve never stopped to read any of it. With that being said, I’m starting to have an appreciation that is still very new and maturing.
Maggie is a very smart, almost genius, young mathematician, who is supposed to be flattered by an unexpected opportunity to be one of Mr. Churchill’s secretaries. WWII is just beginning to take its toll on London as the Nazis and the IRA take turns dropping or planting bombs in the city where Maggie and her friends struggle to just get by and make it through.
Of course, not all is quite as it seems. For one, a man Maggie is sure can’t stand her begins to look out for her well-being, then friends begin to act strange and she’s not sure if it’s a coincidence or not, and on top of everything else not mentioned, one of the parents she thought died years ago might still be around.
I think my problem with this book is that I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the story, but had difficulty reconciling the fiction aspects and the development of the characters. All the characters are well-developed, but I just don’t know if I relate to them. As a woman, still in an age facing the glass ceiling, it was easy to relate to Maggie, but the rest of the characters are a puzzle to me.
I feel as if the emotional aspect of the story could have been more involved. I get it, Maggie is this strong-willed woman who rises above her struggles, but what about everyone else. I just feel like that emotion was put to the side because there was a war on, as it should be, but it didn’t feel real to me.
The suspense and espionage was great and kept me interested in times when I was not emotionally attached, and as much as I hate to say it, I wish Maggie had more romance in her life (I’m not a traditional romance, chik-lit kind of girl).
[A slight tangent here-I encounter more and more stories every day with homosexual characters in them, in the same manner as is on TV and in the movies so that is no big surprise, but I wonder if there is a trend involving the “special aunt”. I’ve seen this general character quite a bit now.] Trend or not, I like the aunt. She’s one of the few characters I felt really expressed good emotion and she did it in a letter, without interacting with any of the other characters.
All in all, this was a very entertaining story and an easy read/listen. I’d recommend this for adults with a love of history, spy thrillers, and or WWII, though it does seem to be geared toward women and may not be welcomed by conservative readers.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords