Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Book Review: Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

Mr. Churchill's Secretary
Author: Susan Elia MacNeal
Series: Maggie Hope (Book 1)
Publication: Bantam; Later Printing edition (April 3, 2012)

Description: For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary captures the drama of an era of unprecedented challenge—and the greatness that rose to meet it.

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.

My Thoughts: This historical mystery introduces Maggie Hope who is in London to settle her grandmother's estate after being raised by her aunt in the Boston area. She is a college graduate in Mathematics who was accepted to graduate school at MIT. She thought her time in London would be short but, with war looming, the house isn't quick to sell. Maggie also comes to believe that it is necessary for her to contribute to the war effort.

Maggie has taken in a number of roomers to help defray her expenses including a school friend from her high school days, and Irish nurse, a ballerina, and two twins who are in the theater. Her school friend Paige suggests that she get a job for the new Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Maggie wants to be a Private Secretary - a position she is highly qualified for, but her gender is relegating her to the typing pool where she spends a lot of time working closely with Churchill.

Meanwhile, there is the mystery of the death of the young woman whose place Maggie has taken, IRA operatives working in England in the hopes that they can gain more for Ireland if Germany wins the war, and spies of all kinds.

Maggie has secrets surrounding her too. Her aunt told her that both of her parents died when she was an infant. However, she can only find her mother's grave and begins a search for her father. It seems she is the only one who doesn't know the truth about him as her employers know things she doesn't.

This was an entertaining mystery absolutely steeped in the time period. From fashion, to rationing, to bomb shelters and air raids, to the constant haze of smoke that seemed to hover over all scenes, the 1940s came vividly to life. I enjoyed learning more about the secret war to defeat Hitler and Maggie's code-breaking activities.

Favorite Quote:
Maggie had come to see the Nazis not as a people, as selfish and misguided and ultimately defensible as any other, but as robots blindly following the orders of a madman.
I bought this one Feb. 8, 2016. You can buy your copy here.


  1. I used to see this book on a number of blogs. I like the history part of it very much as a very interesting period in world history.

  2. This is one I have on my TBR stack. Glad you liked it.


I love getting comments. Let me know what you think.

This blog is now officially declared an Award Free zone! I do appreciate your kindness in thinking of me and I am humbled by your generosity.

Your comments are award enough for me. Comment away!