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

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

by Susan Elia MacNeal


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553593617
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/03/2012
Series: Maggie Hope Series , #1
Edition description: Original
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 70,489
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Susan Elia MacNeal is the Barry Award–winning and Edgar, Dilys, and Macavity Award–nominated author of the Maggie Hope mysteries, including Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, Princess Elizabeth’s Spy, His Majesty’s Hope, and The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent. She lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and child.

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Excerpted from "Mr. Churchill's Secretary"
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Copyright © 2012 Susan Elia MacNeal.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Advance praise for Mr. Churchill's Secretary

“This wonderful debut is intelligent, richly detailed, and filled with suspense.”—Stefanie Pintoff

“A terrific read . . . Chock full of fascinating period details and real people including Winston Churchill, MacNeal’s fast-paced thriller gives a glimpse of the struggles, tensions, and dangers of life on the home front during World War II.”—Rhys Bowen, author of Royal Blood and winner of the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards 
“Think early Ken Follett, amp it up with a whipsmart young American not averse to red lipstick and vintage cocktails, season it with espionage during the London Blitz, and you’ve got a heart-pounding, atmospheric debut. I loved it.”—Cara Black, author of Murder in Passy
“England in 1940 is the perfect backdrop for a courageous young woman who outwits the enemy. A vivid tapestry of wartime London.”—Carolyn Hart, author of Escape from Paris

“An engrossing page-turner, with a delightful and spirited new heroine in the aptly named Maggie Hope.”—C. C. Benison, author of Twelve Drummers Drumming

Customer Reviews

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Mr. Churchill's Secretary 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 120 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun to read and I learned a bit of history. I really liked the main character who was a woman mathmatician. It's rare to find a female main character who enjoys and excells at math and/or science!
Iwant2Bawriter More than 1 year ago
This is not an incredibly well-written book, but it is fun to read. All the cryptography and researched details about Churchill are good and it truly transports you to London in the WWII era. Recommend it as a fun read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful look at WWII and the role of women during that time. While not much of a whodunnit, it is a very intriguing historical mystery with wonderful characters. My only disappointment was that it ended too quickly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
JacksonvilleReader More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed with this book. The story was interesting, but the writer's style was poor. I found it hard to follow her transition from one character's situation to another at times. I had to go back and re-read several pages to see where I missed the connection. There were a number of unconnected sections. For instance, letters from the Aunt were included, but nothing was ever mentioned from Maggie's point of view that the letters were received and read and the impact. I doubt seriously I'll buy another book written by this author.
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
Maggie Hope is a new character in the many mysteries about women in war times. She was British born, but was raised by her aunt in America after her mother was killed in a car crash and her Dad 'lost it' mentally.  After graduating top in her class with top skills in math and languages, she's planning to get a graduate degree at MIT, but her plans change when she returns to England to sell the old family home.  Getting a job in England is hindered by the prevailing attitude that 'women belong in the home, or in support jobs'.  She has mixed feeling about her secretarial job at #10 Downing Street but is prepared to do ALL  for home and country. Frustrated by her seeming menial secretarial job, her position changes when she decodes a covert message she finds in the newspaper.  This comes along with her replacing PM Churchill's sick secretary.  Everything's comes fast and furious after that.  Murders, spies, bombs, and differing views about Hitler mixed with Irish IRA resistance actions, keeps everyone anxious and working to keep England in the winning mix of war. What adds extra interest to this book is the well researched addition of views on women, spies, Churchill, and decoding enemy messages. The factual research for this fictional book is spectacular!  There are also relationships between diverse friends and family secrets that made this book a cut above the present popular WW2 women mysteries like the Jacqueline Winspear series.  If you enjoy this genre, you need to add this Maggie Hope series to your reading list!!
dr_cac More than 1 year ago
Ms. MacNeal's first Maggie Hope is simply great fun. It may not be great literature but it is fast paced and keeps your interest... if you are a mystery buff. I happen to enjoy WWI and WWII novels so this one is spot on. Maggie and her chums are people you'd be interested in but remember... not all is as it seems. The only unfortunate aspect is having to wait till October for the 2nd in this series.
Maryrm More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable with good story and interesting people in the story. Kept up interest until the end. Waiting for the second book in the series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. It wasn't as heavy as most WWII novels. An easy read with likeable characters.
Pat-in_IL More than 1 year ago
Even though the book started out a little slowly, the majority of the book made up for this. There were several plot twists that kept me reading just to find out what would happen next. I enjoyed the mixture of fiction with the descriptions of actual occurrences during World War II. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A truly pleasurable story to read, full of intrigue and adventures
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Found the Nook edition a little difficult to read. Paragraphs flowed into one another, when characters and setting changed. It was very confusing. Seems like their should have been a break between the different scenes. On the other hand, this fictional piece was very well researched by the author. The story was very interesting and filled with twists and turns. I enjoyed the book, and had problems putting it Down. Interesting story, learned a bit more about Winston Churchill and pre war England.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not well written, not historical. Predictable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book has it all: suspense, thriller, love, intrigue, history
LadyZin More than 1 year ago
I loved it. I just finished reading Series #2, equally exceptional. Cannot wait to read Series #3. Being born in Coventry, it brings back a lot of my parents memories as they lived through it.
K_Holt More than 1 year ago
An exciting blend of historical fact and well-woven fiction. I LOVED this first book in a series. Fascinating, three-dimensional characters, twists in the plot I didn't see coming (but knew they had to be there, somewhere), delightful inclusion of real people from history (Winston Churchill), and the threat of war. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book.  I've read all of them.  If you like the PBS series "Foyle's War," Youll love this!
Deacon_Tate More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't wait for the next one!
Anonymous 5 months ago
Mr. Churchill's Secretary is the first book of an amazing series--the Maggie Hope series. I started the series by first reading The Paris Spy, so I developed a quite different perspective of the series. The Paris Spy starts with action. The writing flows like a river until you reach the white rapids!! I love books that educate me and entertain me at the same time. Authors who deftly achieve both deserve high praise. Mr. Churchill's Secretary gives a bit more of the backstory of the characters. If I had started reading the series with Book 1, Mr. Churchill's Secretary, I may have thought the series was going to be a bit slow. Be patient. Keep reading. An author has to include character backstory somewhere. You will not be disappointed. I am so glad that I found this series. I am learning all that I can about the era while reading these books. Happy Reading!
susiesharp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was not what I was expecting; I didn¿t expect it to be a spy/war/mystery/family secrets story all rolled into a really good book. The setting was fascinating; the beginning of WWII and with people like the US Ambassador Joseph Kennedy who lost his post for being a Nazi sympathizer and an anti-Semite which I looked up and was a bit shocked to find this all to be true. And of course Winston Churchill it was fun to hear about his pets running rough shod over 10 Downing (I looked that up too and found it to be true). So this book was well researched and made me want to look things up and as I¿ve said before that¿s what makes a good historical fiction novel.I really liked Maggie she did remind me a little of Maisie Dobbs but that could just be the setting and the fact that she is a strong independent woman in a time that was a bit frowned upon. I also liked the fact that Maggie was raised an American but by the end of this book has been found to be a valuable asset for the England. There are at times a lot of characters to keep track of and I did get confused a couple times as to who was who so I hope in the next book this will be tightened up a bit. I do look forward to reading more of Maggie.I felt this book was kind of a Cozy Spy Thriller it had all the great elements of a good spy novel plus the best of a cozy mystery. I look forward to more by this author.I received this book from Library thing early reviewers program but I got a bit behind on my reviews so ended up getting this on audio.About the audio production: **Just my 2 cents** First off was my confusion on narration: the listing on audible says Wanda McCaddon but the intro of narrator says Donada Peters I guess they are one in the same but then the intro and the listing should use the same name. Wanda/Donada was a good narrator there were times when slipping in between the British and American accents it didn¿t work well for me there were times they were kind of a cross between the two and it was hard to tell who was talking. But I did enjoy her narration as whole.All in all a good start of what I¿ve heard is a proposed series and I look forward to the next one!4 stars
rainbowsoup on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Susan MacNeal¿s Mr. Churchill¿s Secretrary , starts off with a bang! With a murder, to be exact which has twists and turns moving through war torn London in the 1940¿s. Churchill is now running the show and mystery, intrigue and secrets are in the forefront. Maggie Hope is the brilliant heroine who becomes the Prime Minister¿s top secretary. Maggie and her friends are soon interacting with the IRA, decoding messages and finding themselves rubbing elbows with MI-5 and enemy agents. An excellent read. MacNeal¿s research on Churchill¿s Secretary is thorough and impressive. The landscape of London during the war is much like stepping into ¿Foyle¿s War,¿ popular British detective series, complete with Victory Gardens and rationing. Kudos to MacNeal for a topnotch work.
cathyskye on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First Line: Half an hour before Diana Snyder died, she tidied up her desk in the typists' office of the Cabinet War Rooms.Margaret Hope postpones her Ph.D. studies in advanced mathematics at M.I.T. in order to travel across the Atlantic to sell her deceased grandmother's London home. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in as Prime Minister, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of invasion looms larger each and every day. Margaret finds herself impressed by the spirit and attitude of the English in buckling down to do what must be done-- especially in the face of what Hitler represents to the world-- and she decides to stay to do her part.Although she graduated at the top of her class and has all the prerequisites for a job with British Intelligence, the only job she can get is as a lowly typist in the offices of the Prime Minister. But even insignificant typists have access to the War Rooms, and Maggie's job exposes her to the machinations of those who are determined to change the course of history.Once I started Mr. Churchill's Secretary, I could not put the book down. MacNeal created a wonderful cast of characters inhabiting Maggie's house and place of employment, and since there are people wanting to use her for their own ends, there's the added spice of reading and trying to identify the spies, wherever they may be. Churchill plays a very small role in the book, and-- as is appropriate for someone with his talent and wit-- he provides one of the best lines in the book when meeting Margaret Hope for the first time: "Yes. We must have hope in this office." Maggie is an excellent character. She's naive-- not used to the spy business at all-- but she's quick-witted, and MacNeal keeps her true to character by not turning this sheltered college graduate into Lara Croft at the first sign of danger.As the pieces are put into place, the reader is immersed in life in London during the Blitz, and by the time those pieces are all where they should be, the action takes off like a house afire. I haven't had this much enjoyment in reading a book for quite a while, and I'm most certainly looking forward to the next book in the series, Princess Elizabeth's Spy.
Berly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Susan MacNeal's Mr. Churchill's Secretary was less of a history novel and more of a mystery/adventure piece, and an enjoyable one at that. Maggie Hope is the heroine of the story. She is a brilliant young women off to study at MIT, who is sidetracked by the death of her grandmother. She must venture to England to tidy up the estate. While there, she is drawn to the English people and the country and stays on. She winds up being the lowly secretary in Churchill's office, a post far below her intelligence, but she is trapped by the norms of war-torn London in the 1940's. She rents out her house to an interesting bunch of women, who all become friends. Maggie is soon drawn into the the life of the IRA, mysterious coded messages, MI-5 and enemy agents. The characters are a little thin, but the action is good and the tone is amusing. A very good read. And I hear there are more Maggie Hope books planned!
Liz1564 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an Early review copy. Thank you.This novel is a mystery/thriller/social novel set in 1939 right before the blitz began in England. Maggie Hope, born in London but raised by her aunt in the US from the time she was a few months old, has become one of Winston Churchill's secretaries. And if the novel really was about what it was like to work at 10 Downing Street during the war, it might have been a very interesting read. However, MacNeal's book seems to be about everything else but that. Maggie is in London because a grandmother she never knew existed has left her a Victorian house and, inexplicably, added a codicil to the will that Maggie must personally oversee the sale of the building. That is the first rather silly premise. The second is that Maggie so easily gets a job in the inner sanctum of 10 Downing on the word of a few friends, even though she has some dubious connections. Then there are the excess characters who seem to flit across the pages for no reason. Twins in the theater who "coo," when they are around men, a tomboyish roommate who gets engaged to an RAF pilot, Maggie's lesbian aunt who writes her letters and thinks ominous thoughts back in the states. And then there are the major characters. Inept IRA agents in elaborate disguises who concoct fantastic plots doomed to fail. The young men at 10 Downing who escaped from Bertie's Wooster's circle. ("Old bean," old chap,") Government ministers straight out of an adaption of a John Buchan novel.And the author has definite quirks. She describes EVERY outfit EVERY character wears EVERY time the character appears. Maggie just doesn't walk into a room. She walks down the corridor, up the steps, around the corner, past the library before she opens the doors and enters the room. Likewise, she can't just get home, Every landmark and street is described on her way to the tube or bus. War preparations get the same treatment. The thing is that there is just too much term paperish information, too many holes in the plot, too many characters, too many unnecessary scenes (a ballet rehearsal!), too many 21st century ideas. Would Maggie really discuss his sexuality with her gay friend? Would a seasoned IRA agent not check to see if someone is really dead before leaving the body? Would Maggie, brilliant though she may be, really be able to solve a code so easily and then understand what it means? And would that secret message actually have a connection to her personally?And Mr Churchill's secretary? She does get to type the "This was their finest hour" speech" as the Prime Minister composes it right in front of her as he stares out a window.