Customer Reviews for

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

Average Rating 3.5
( 78 )
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5 Star

(28)

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(26)

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(8)

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 12 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 August 2, 2012

    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.

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2014

    Poor

    Do not waste your time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

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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 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2012

    I might be interested in this book, but the publisher's failure

    I might be interested in this book, but the publisher's failure to provide a preview means I won't be pursuing the title.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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