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Mr. Churchill's Secretary (Maggie Hope Series #1)

Average Rating 3.5
( 80 )
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5 Star

(28)

4 Star

(27)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(8)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

I loved this book. Usually I rip through books so quickly and

I loved this book. Usually I rip through books so quickly and promptly forget about them. This one I savored and tried to draw out because I did not want it to end. I prefer historical fiction where the character is central and the action peripheral, with the idea ...
I loved this book. Usually I rip through books so quickly and promptly forget about them. This one I savored and tried to draw out because I did not want it to end. I prefer historical fiction where the character is central and the action peripheral, with the idea that the action helps inform the character but is not the only thing to a character's growth or development.

If your are looking for a whodunit book, you will be sadly disappointed. It is so much more about a great character, and that character is Maggie Hope, a British citizen raised in the US from the age of 3. She arrives in London as stipulated in her grandmother's will to sell her inheritance - grandmother's house; however, Maggie decides to stay and begin to explore her British self. Yet Maggie is quintessentially American. The voice of strong educated woman leading her own life and making her own choices is uniquely American for that time period. While few American women in the 40s would have had the opportunity to cultivate such a voice, even fewer British middle and upper class women would have had Maggie's moxie. And a graceful moxie is what Maggie has!

Woven throughout this wonderful character story is a plush historical tapestry for its setting. There were times when I felt like I was right there. Furthermore, the fact and fiction were so well blended that it is impossible to tell where one began and one ended. This is good writing - a rich, authentic voice.

it is also a subtle voice. Rarely am I surprised in a book, as modern foreshadowing is all but a hammer on the head. In this book the "aha" moment comes without any prior "I knew it!" experiences. The "romance" aspect is light and not central to the story; it is an integral part of who Maggie is becoming and what her life is. It is not the central or limiting story. The romance is both subtle, adding shading and complexity to the characters and story, and clumsy on the part of Maggie and her attraction, both realistic and as the author intended. After all how many of us are clumsy and flustered around a romantic interest? The author does this well.

You would not be wasting your money or time with this book. And you will be waiting for the next installment to arrive!

posted by Cybele727 on April 13, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

8 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

Dreadful

Unfortunately, the author's style is poor and the plot tends to wander. For really good books of this genre, try Deborah Crombie or Jacqueline Winspear - both masters of the British mystery with memorable characters and vivid English settings.

posted by 14504300 on August 2, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2013

    This is a great book.  I've read all of them.  If you like the P

    This is a great book.  I've read all of them.  If you like the PBS series "Foyle's War," Youll love this!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 7, 2013

    Good read!!!!

    I really enjoyed reading this book. It sets up the series and introduces the characters. I had read the second book first. I will be keeping this series on my to read list.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 3, 2014

    Great story wonderful heroine

    I am a sucker for good spy stories and this one is right up there with Alan Furst. The Ordinary people caught up in great events idea is really a great sub-genre.
    Bill

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  • Posted September 13, 2014

    This is an engaging story of an aspect of WWII. Having watched F

    This is an engaging story of an aspect of WWII.
    Having watched Foyle's War, I was struck by how much alike some of the scenes were.
    The research is extensive. Unlike another review, i did not find that a problem. On the contrary, it was quite fascinating to me.
    The main character is an interesting one. She is British, but spent most of her life in the US.
    The topics of women's rights (even just being treated as intelligent humans!) and homosexuality are dealt with well.
    I look forward to more of this author's work.

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  • Posted September 12, 2014

    Good Book

    I liked this book. Good introduction to the the character Maggie Hope. I expected more detail on her. I will read the next book in the series,

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2014

    Poor

    Do not waste your time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2014

    A well researched book.

    This book gave you a good feeling of WWII London.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2014

    Annie

    She kept going, in deeper, and all the way out until plunging in again.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2014

    Am I missing something? I'm only on chapter 3 and struggling big

    Am I missing something? I'm only on chapter 3 and struggling big time. This reads like a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. Have to at least skim it for book club meeting next week. Could someone tell me if it gets better? How about the Cliff Notes so I can participate in discussion?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2014

    Sophomoric. I wanted to like this book, and parts of it were oka

    Sophomoric.
    I wanted to like this book, and parts of it were okay. Having been to the Cabinet War Rooms in London, as well as to other WWII related London sights, made the story somewhat plausible. But the writing was amateurish and I had to force myself to finish it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2014

    Clever premise but plot so-so

    This series holds promise. The glimpses and quotes from Churchill add to the tensions inherent in this period and the characters were well drawn. Unfortunately I didn't think the plot was as good. I'll definitely check out the next book, but I think the Maisey Dobbs series (set in the post WWI period) is better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2013

    Great book!

    This was a great read. I learned a lot about what really went on in Churchill's offices...and things about him. The author did a great job on the facts and making a great story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2013

    Not as good as it might have been

    I like a good historical and have written and edited a few myself (I'm in pro publishing), so when this went on sale for just a couple bucks I thought, "Why not?" I liked the premise and it had some good reviews stacked up.

    Historical detail was spot on, which pleased me. I don't go looking for clangers, but they tend to jump out since I can never quite turn off the editor in my head. The author did her research, but it soon got intrusive.

    Characterization was a disappointment. There were so many characters that I almost kept a cheat sheet to keep track of them all. The main character was lost in the crowd; I had to use the mnemonic of "Maggie the Math Whiz" to keep her separate from the rest.

    She has a predictable like/dislike relationship with a male coworker that left me yawning. She has some female friends, a gay friend (the only one in the book who had decent dialogue, excepting Churchill) and she does little to push the plot forward.

    All characters should have an important personal "driver" that compels them to move a story forward. Maggie has one, but pays it scant attention since the author is far more engaged in describing life in London at the start of the Blitz.

    I'll add that toward the end, when Maggie is having an evening in at a luxury hotel, the German bombers were considerate enough to take the night off.

    Maggie devolved into a cypher delivering bland lines and replies to questions like "What are you thinking?" with "Oh, nothing." Yawn.

    Characters should always be moving forward, not drifting along doing their jobs like the rest of us.

    About halfway through the author remembered to make a start at resolving things, so the action picks up, such as it is. There's a good deal of flashback stuff in the form of letters from an estranged aunt, whose purpose is to dribble out information on family history at irregular intervals.

    The plot drags forward by inches, interrupted by page filler--those are scenes not necessary to the story, intended to plump out a thin chapter. By then I was skimming pages. I found the first line in most paragraphs was enough to keep up on things until something of interest occurred.

    There comes a point where Maggie is in Dire Peril from bad guys and a couple of lukewarm traitors. The resolution was painful to read as Maggie all too easily changes someone's mind, escapes her bonds, and "rescues" herself seconds ahead of a proper rescue staged by others. These days female protagonists are expected to pull their own weight in terms of rescues, but the author hasn't got the hang of it yet. There's no suspense when there's a backup rescue afoot.

    As for editing, there are several spots in the book where I'd have asked the author to smooth out some obvious copy/paste bits. As a writer, I often take something from one part of a book and put it in a better spot, but one should take care to hide the seams. I expect everyone was in a deadline rush, so parts of it are disjointed and rough as the author jumps from one locale to another.

    I'd hoped for better. The first half of the book is all right, but the rest fell apart as the wandering plot limped its way to the final pages, of which there were about 30 too many.

    Dear Author, when you come to the end, stop. Don't drag things out.

    I was thinking of lending this one to a friend who is interested in the period and locale, but I think it would be a waste of her

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  • Posted October 25, 2013

    Highly Enjoyable!

    Very much liked this novel. MacNeal clearly has done a great deal of research about Britain during WWII, and her portrait of London under siege is memorable. The main character, Maggie Hope, is smart, brave, and hard-working, if just a tad too 21st century to ring exactly true.

    Am looking forward to reading the next two volumes in this series.

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  • Posted October 25, 2013

    okay

    an okay book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2013

    Fun read

    Diverting spy/espiomage thriller set in WWII England- Would be interested to read other books by this author- I also like the works of Michael Dobbs who covers this same period.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2013

    Ok

    I thought it was awesose but i never read itbcbfuxuxhdbfhhndcjjfnf

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    Easy Read

    Crisp and easily readable. Enjoyed it enough that I bought the next book in the series

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2013

    This is a must!

    Maggie Hope is one of my new favorite characters! Anyone who is interested in history and mystery will love this story. Maggie Hope says the things that a lot of us wanted to back in the 70s and even now. She is intelligent, hard working but has the misfortune of being a woman. That doesn't mean the story is about feminism but it makes Maggie more real and her character true to the times. The mystery is one of several twist and false assumptions so it was almost to the end before I realized who the real baddy was. Folks that like the Charles Lennox stories will enjoy this book.

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