Friday, January 03, 2014
REVIEW OF SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL'S WORLD WAR II SERIES
Susan Elia Macneal has composed an exciting new series. No wonder that it's a top seller and recipient of numerous awards. Ms Macneal engaged in extensive research for these books, especially the first one. She uses her knowledge as a background to place the reader in the midst of the action. The research allows her to transport the reader with the heroine protagonist, Maggie Hope, through an exciting maze of danger, friendships, romance, and discovery. I recommend this series wholeheartedly to all readers!
Although she was born in England, Maggie Hope has been living as the ward of her college professor aunt in the United States. Her aunt loves Maggie, but is a formal, undemonstrative woman. Still, Maggie had a good life and graduated with honors at the top of her college class as an exceptional mathematician. She is preparing to enter MIT for her doctoral studies when her aunt enlists her to go to London and sell the home of Maggie’s late grandmother. Maggie’s aunt and grandmother were estranged, so Maggie had never met her grandmother. In fact, she was not even aware her grandmother had been alive during her lifetime.
Times are uncertain and economic times are hard in London and Maggie is unable to find a buyer. Surprised by how much she wants to remain in London, she gathers four women her age to rent rooms in the large Victorian home. Through one of the women, Maggie gets an interview and is hired as a typist for Prime Minister Winston Churchill. (I was so impressed that typists took dictation directly as they typed rather than using shorthand as I did when I was a secretary. I would never have been able to keep up, at least not without a gazillion errors.)
Each of these books unlocks another part of Maggie’s complicated past. She is angry at the deceit of her aunt and others, yet she still loves the woman who raised her. She realizes how difficult it must have been for her unmarried professor aunt to take an infant into her life. That doesn’t stop her mixed emotions with each personal secret she uncovers. At the same time, Maggie is uncovering many more secrets and encountering danger that places her life in peril.
As I mentioned in the title, this review is not of one book but of a series. Authors always tell readers that their series books stand alone, and usually that’s true. In this instance, readers simply must first read MR.
CHURCHILL’S SECRETARY or many of the undercurrents in subsequent books will be meaningless.
Here’s the blurb for MR. CHURCHILL’S SECRETARY:
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 code breaking, 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.
PRINCESS ELIZABETH’S SPY is the second book:
As World War II sweeps the continent and England steels itself against German attack, Maggie Hope, former secretary to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, becomes a spy for M1-5. Possessing one of the sharpest minds in government for mathematics and code–breaking, she fully expects to be sent abroad to gather intelligence for the British front. Instead, to her great disappointment, she is dispatched to go undercover at Windsor Castle, where she will tutor the young Princess Elizabeth. Yet castle life quickly proves more dangerous—and deadly—than Maggie ever expected. The upstairs-downstairs world at Windsor is thrown into disarray by a chocking murder, which draws Maggie into a vast conspiracy that places the entire royal family in peril. And as she races to save England from a most disturbing fate, Maggie realizes that a quick wit is her best defense, and that the smallest clues can unravel the biggest secrets, even within her own family.
The third book is HIS MAGESTY’S HOPE:
World War II has finally come home to Britain, but it takes more than nightly air raids to rattle intrepid spy and expert code breaker Maggie Hope. After serving as a secret agent to protect Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, Maggie is now an elite member of the Special Operations Executive—a covert organization designed to aid the British effort abroad—and her first assignment sends her straight into Nazi-controlled Berlin, the very heart of the German war machine. Relying on her quick wit and keen instincts, Maggie infiltrates the highest level of Berlin society, gathering information to pass on to London headquarters. But the secrets she unveils will expose a darker, more dangerous side of the war, and of her own past.
I highly recommend this series. Each member of my family has read and enjoyed it. One simply cannot stop reading these suspenseful books. I eagerly look forward to the June release of THE PRIME MINISTER’S SECRET AGENT. You will too!
Thanks for stopping by!