British born, American raised Maggie Hope works at No. 10 Downing Street as a typist, despite her qualifications as a mathematician. She is caught by circumstances in London during World War II, trying to sell her late grandmother’s house. The Blitz, war devastation, murder, espionage and secrets color the picture in this off-to-the-side-yet-right-in-the-middle-of-the-action historical novel (se below). “Mr. Churchill’s Secretary” is an excellent period piece in which plot and historical precision and description complement each other.
I especially enjoyed the breadth of historical treats in “Mr. Churchill’s Secretary”. There are Downing Street politics, WWII, IRA, gender issues, everyday details and much more. Despite this I would still call the novel an easy read.
Off-to-the-side-yet-right-in-the-middle-of-the-action historical novel: maybe I should elaborate. Susan Elia MacNeal has chosen a typist as her protagonist based on memoires from real life typists. A brilliant choice in my opinion. Maggie Hope is not based on a historical superstar, but off to the side support personnel. Still the storyline action packed and believable (with a discretionary leap of faith).
“Mr. Churchill’s Secretary” is the first Maggie Hope mystery and as far as I understand there are four to date. I am always doubtful about series without a known number of books and must admit that I have not bought the next novel in the series yet. It could still happen; it would make a good addition to my Winter-evening/flu stash.
I would recommend “Mr. Churchill’s Secretary” is readers interested in easy-readable historical fiction, espionage, and/or mysteries.