The Secret Society of Salzburg

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

1
To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add kindle@netgalley.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
2
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 27 Dec 2022 | Archive Date 27 Jan 2023

Talking about this book? Use #TheSecretSocietyofSalzburg #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


Description

From the author of The Widows of Champagne, and inspired by true events, comes a gripping and heartwrenching story of two very different women united to bring light to the darkest days of World War II.
 
London, 1933
 
At first glance, Austrian opera singer Elsa Mayer-Braun has little in common with the young English typist she encounters on tour. Yet she and Hattie Featherstone forge an instant connection—and strike a dangerous alliance. Using their friendship as a cover, they form a secret society with a daring goal: to rescue as many Jews as possible from Nazi persecution.
 
Though the war’s outbreak threatens Elsa and Hattie’s network, their efforts attract the covert attention of the British government, offering more opportunities to thwart the Germans. But Elsa’s growing fame as Hitler’s favorite opera singer, coupled with her secret Jewish ancestry, make her both a weapon and a target—until her future, too, hangs in the balance.
 
From the glamorous stages of Covent Garden and Salzburg to the horrors of Bergen-Belsen,  two ordinary women swept up by the tide of war discover an extraordinary friendship—and the courage to save countless lives.
 
 
 
 
From the author of The Widows of Champagne, and inspired by true events, comes a gripping and heartwrenching story of two very different women united to bring light to the darkest days of World War...

Advance Praise

“…this (story) powerfully blends ruminations on the importance of art with acute depictions of Nazi cruelty. The result is a rousing historical.” -Publishers Weekly

"The setting of opera and art houses of a bygone era gives this book a special appeal to classical music and art enthusiasts.... The novel also contains a chaste romance and hints of spirituality that will appeal to those looking for a clean, historical love story." -Booklist


“…this (story) powerfully blends ruminations on the importance of art with acute depictions of Nazi cruelty. The result is a rousing historical.” -Publishers Weekly

"The setting of opera and art...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781335427564
PRICE CA$19.99 (CAD)
PAGES 368

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB)
Send to Kindle (EPUB)
Download (EPUB)

Average rating from 54 members


Featured Reviews

This is an excellent read!
Set in WWII, a famous opera singer befriends two English sisters. As Hitler rises to power, Jews begin to hope for asylum in other countries. Unable to turn a blind eye to the reality before them, these women, along with many others set into motion a network to rescue as many Jews as they can.
But everywhere, there are spies and traitors. In a real life game of trying to decide who to trust, the smuggling of people goes on. But how long before bitter betrayal strikes?
Vera, Hattie, and Elsa will tug at your heartstrings.

Was this review helpful?

Hattie and her sister work in low paying British government jobs but both have bigger dreams. Both discover more of themselves when the fall in love with opera and become close friends with an opera singer. Of course, Hitler and his hatred bod Jews changes everything. Wonderful characters set against a backdrop that begs us to ask ourselves if we are willing to stand up for what is right.

Was this review helpful?

Well written and researched. I found the writing strong, & the characters even stronger. A nice plot allows for a pacy read that kept me engaged. I'd recommend this book to all fans of the genre. Thank you very much for the chance to read. I thoroughly enjoyed!

Was this review helpful?

I love, love, loved The Secret Society of Salzburg. As the author did research for the book, she came across the sisters Ida and Louise Cook, whom she modeled this book after. Their story is in a book called The Opera Sisters, which I read and adored.

The Secret Society is the story of two sisters, Hattie and Vera Featherstone, and their beloved opera star, Elsa Mayer-Braun. Together they saved dozens of Jews, secreting them away to London where the sisters lived.

The women met by happenstance. The sisters worked as typists and Elsa's aunt, Malvina was at their place of employment to give a speech about opera, complete with record albums. The sisters were present and when Malvina played Elsa's music they were mesmerized. They decided to save up so they could attend the Salzburg music festival, but first they went to see her while she was performing in London. While they were waiting in line to purchase tickets, they saw Elsa come out of the theatre. Hattie, who was an artist, sketched her and presented her with the drawing. Elsa was so moved by it that she reserved tickets for the sisters to attend her performance. An immediate friendship blossomed, and together the plotted a way to save as many Jews as they could from Hitler's Nazis.

Not long after that, Hattie and Vera were able to go to the Salzburg music festival, Salzburg being where Elsa lived. Again, she reserved tickets for them for all of her performances. At the first show Elsa introduced Hattie to Oliver who owned several art galleries throughout Europe, including two in New York. He'd seen Elsa's sketch and believed Hattie showed promise. He gave her his card and told her to phone him when she got back to London so that he could see more of her work. He liked it so much that he commissioned her to produce as much as she could. In exchange, he would stage showings in his galleries.

It was during Hattie and Vera's next visit that Elsa confided in them that she needed to get her aunt to London, as she had lost her job because she was a Jew and ran the risk of being deported to a concentration camp. The sisters agreed to rescue her, and thus started the rescue mission. Of course Elsa had Jewish blood too, but she had changed her name so no one would know.

Their rescue mission went along smoothly and, as I stated earlier, they saved dozens between 1935 and 1943. In 1943, at the beginning of the last concert of the music festival, Nazi soldiers entered the theatre and arrested Elsa for treason. When she arrived in holding, she learned that they knew all about her exploits of saving Jews, and they knew that she herself was a Jew. They put her in a concentration camp that was better than the rest because they intended to trade her for Nazis who had been arrested.

It turned out that Oliver was an undercover agent for London's MI6. At first, Hattie felt betrayed by him. He had not been honest with her, and she had strong feelings for him as he had for her. So she decided to keep their relationship platonic and just go through the motions. But when she found out that Elsa had been arrested, she went to him and pleaded for him to help Elsa. And he came through. When she was released, he brought her to Hattie and Vera's flat where her aunt also was. She shared her arrest story with them. She had always thought her husband, Wilhelm, had betrayed her. But one night in the camp, her rival, Freida showed up and confessed that she had been the one who turned her in. She begged Elsa's forgiveness, which Elsa gave. Before Oliver left the flat, Elsa asked him to get Freida out, which he did.

In the end, in 1945, the music festival, which was condemned in 1943, was reinstated. Elsa and Freida were the opening act. Hattie and Oliver, who were married, and Vera and Malvina were in attendance.

This was a heart warming story with just enough suspense to keep coming back for more. I had difficulty putting it down, I thought the characters were well developed and the storyline was easy to follow. I would definitely recommend this book for book club. I give it five stars.

Was this review helpful?

This book was very good! The two protagonists were Hattie, an artist, and Elsa, an opera singer. The story alternates between their points of view, and the unlikely pair become fast friends in World War II Europe. They face different types of challenges as they attempt to remain safe, and then also to help others. I would recommend this historical fiction to anyone who enjoys a good story with some struggles and triumphs.

Was this review helpful?

The Secret Society of Salzburg
by Renee Ryan
Publisher: HARLEQUIN - Romance (U.S. & Canada)
Series: None
Rated: 5
Obtain: Borrow
Back of the Book: “London, 1933
At first glance, Austrian opera singer Elsa Mayer-Braun has little in common with the young English typist she encounters on tour. Yet she and Hattie Featherstone forge an instant connection—and strike a dangerous alliance. Using their friendship as a cover, they form a secret society with a daring goal: to rescue as many Jews as possible from Nazi persecution.
Though the war’s outbreak threatens Elsa and Hattie’s network, their efforts attract the covert attention of the British government, offering more opportunities to thwart the Germans. But Elsa’s growing fame as Hitler’s favorite opera singer, coupled with her secret Jewish ancestry, make her both a weapon and a target—until her future, too, hangs in the balance.
From the glamorous stages of Covent Garden and Salzburg to the horrors of Bergen-Belsen, two ordinary women swept up by the tide of war discover an extraordinary friendship—and the courage to save countless lives.”

Impressions: I enjoyed this book! Although this was not a Christian book it was clean in romance, language and violence. The characters were easy to like. The inner turmoil the characters faced were easy to relate to but also interesting. As the characters developed, romances bloomed and the heroines were tested as to where their loyalties were. The romances were opposite in many ways; one was quick and lovely the other was slow and sure. Although there was conflict in these relationships the tensions and heartaches were realistic. The scope of emotions that were probable during WW2 were intensified as the characters navigated love in the tangled webs of war. The ending of this story was satisfying and hopeful. What’s not to love?!

Quotes: “If this wasn’t their fight, whose was it?” – This reminds me of Matthew Wests’ song, Do Something.

“…We can’t soar if we don’t leave the comfort of the nest.” – What a challenging statement of truth for when we feel afraid.

“Dear God, please. This is bigger than us. We need your help.”- What a simple prayer but done in earnest is a mustard seed waiting to be heard by our LORD.

I received an ARC of this book via the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review shared here. For more book reviews go to: https://simplyannehere.wordpress.com

Was this review helpful?

We are first introduced to opera star Elsa in 1943 Austria, as she is arrested by the Gestapo. The narrator then relates the story of how this event came to be.
We meet Henrietta Featherstone (Hattie), a British artist who, in 1934 is a civil servant in London with artistic aspirations. The two women meet by chance, become friends, and through their common animosity for Hitler and the war, plus some machinations of a British MI6 agent, join forces to rescue Jews from the Nazis.

The story shifts between Elsa's interrogation and imprisonment and the unfolding tale of the adventure that landed her in that dire situation. The narrative realistically portrays the politics and atrocities of those times through this fictional tale of drama, romance, terror, and daring.

Thoroughly enthralling and satisfying, the narrative carries the reader through an entire gamut of emotions to a satisfactory conclusion.

Was this review helpful?

Another beautiful, heartbreaking WWII novel. This was my first time reading about the opera world and I was very impressed. I had a strong desire to look up the songs they referenced while reading. And oh, how I wish I could see Hattie’s beautiful pantings. The representation of art in this book left me dreaming of the beautiful, chaotic world Elsa and Hattie lived in.

I have a hard time not rating WWII books high because they are always based on true stories of real heroism and devastation. Though I would have liked to see the ending flushed out a little more in depth, it was still an entertaining, enthralling novel. 4.5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and the Harlequin for the advanced reading copy in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

At first glance, Austrian opera singer Elsa Mayer-Braun has little in common with the young English typist she encounters on tour. Yet she and Hattie Featherstone forge an instant connection—and strike a dangerous alliance. Using their friendship as a cover, they form a secret society with a daring goal: to rescue as many Jews as possible from Nazi persecution.

Though the war’s outbreak threatens Elsa and Hattie’s network, their efforts attract the covert attention of the British government, offering more opportunities to thwart the Germans. But Elsa’s growing fame as Hitler’s favorite opera singer, coupled with her secret Jewish ancestry, make her both a weapon and a target—until her future, too, hangs in the balance.

From the glamorous stages of Covent Garden and Salzburg to the horrors of Bergen-Belsen, two ordinary women swept up by the tide of war discover an extraordinary friendship—and the courage to save countless lives.

The story was beautifully written from the different time jumps and the point-of-views from the two women. I was immersed in their story from the first page to the last. The richness of art and opera was secondary to the horrors of the holocaust that Ms. Ryan painted. We know there is no happy ending with WWII but you will feel content once you read the final chapter.

Thank you to NetGalley and Renee Ryan for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

This is a poignant and courageous story of two very different women, a opera diva and a British civil servant, both of whom are loosely based on real women. When others turned a blind-eye, they saved countless Jewish .lives. The descriptions of life in London and Salzburg and Bergen-Belsen are heart-rending. Highly recommended.

Was this review helpful?

Renee Ryan has taken some very trying circumstances and put them into an incredible narrative to draw her readers in from the very first page and doesn't let go until the epilogue. She based the story on real people and real events.

Hattie Featherstone meets Elsa Mayer-Braun's aunt when she visits the place where Hattie works. It is through Elsa's aunt that Hattie is introduced to opera and to Elsa's incredible voice. Hearing Elsa sing inspires Hattie's artwork to a level Hattie had never achieved before. Through Elsa's aunt, Hattie and Elsa met and became friends and more than friends, they became partners in helping Jews escape the reach of the Nazi regime.
Hattie and her sister travel to Salzburg to hear Elsa sing and meet up with Elsa while they are staying there. Elsa connects them to people who need to leave the continent and go to a friendlier country until the hostilities are over. Once war breaks out, Hattie and Elsa have to meet up in Stockholm, Sweden, but between Elsa's music and Hattie's art, they both have legitimate covers for their activities.

Oliver Roundel is an art dealer who sees a sketch Hattie did of Elsa and sees beyond the surface of the sketch to the real art that lies beneath. He is the one who sets up her art shows and aids in the rescue mission of the Jews.

This novel is one of the most gripping novels I've read about World War II and the political climate in Europe. The characters are entirely believable and the settings are explained with great detail without distracting from the plot. The villainous characters live up to their evil natures and the good guys ride their "white horses" quite well. This is a five star book with two thumbs up and artwork that matches the beautiful voices of the opera.

Harlequin Publishing (Love Inspired line) provided the copy I read for this review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Was this review helpful?

Elsa is a famous opera singer and when she meets Hattie, she learns she is not only a fan but an ally in although Elsa is nervous about it she knows she must do the right thing and her Hattie and Hattie’s sister form the secret Society of Salzburg. This was a great, fantastic, phenomenal historical fiction book! I thought the characters were wonderful I thought the author grasp the error expertly I just logged the book! It was one of those books I wanted to stop halfway through just to tell someone how great the book was. I loved it and I’m so glad I got to read it. I received this book from NetGalleyShelf the publishers but I am leaving this review voluntarily please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.

Was this review helpful?

I had enjoyed The Widows of Champagne so I was excited to read the newest book by Renee Ryan. It was exactly what I was hoping for and did everything I needed it to from a historical novel. It was beautifully written and I was engaged from the first page till the end. The characters worked so well and I'm glad I got to know them.

"That makes us foreigners,” Vera reminded her. “On temporary holiday, traveling third class. We have no power, no connections, no money.”

Was this review helpful?

FANTASTIC READ!!

Why are there Nazis at our wedding?

Why would her husband invite them during this perilous time?

Elsa and Wilhelm were connected by the opera...she is a famous singer and he is a famous, powerful orchestra director.

He made her famous, married her, and somehow started to scare her.

We then meet Hattie and Vera who were secretaries at the Board of Education in England, but Hattie was also an artist and Vera an author.

Elsa met Hattie and Vera when they were on their way to one of her operas, and all three women with their talents became entangled in what was going on in Germany.

Art and opera were highly regarded, got the women safely together, and made a perfect cover for their friendship and what they were doing.

Elsa became fast and devoted friends with both Hattie and Vera once Elsa saw Hattie’s emotional drawings of herself and after the sisters met Elsa's Aunt Malvina.

A problem...Malvina was Jewish and in danger - could Elsa be in danger too since they shared the same blood?

You will find the answer to everything when you read this gripping, heartbreaking tale of women trying to save as many Jewish citizens as possible while endangering themselves and their dream careers.

Another marvelous, marvelous, unable-to-put-down read by Renee Ryan based on the lives of Ida and Louise Cook...do not miss this book. 5/5

This book was given to me by the author for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

If you’ve followed me long enough, you know I’m a mood reader, and this historical fiction book with settings in London and in Salzburg has hit the spot for me!

I’m halfway through the book, and I keep reflecting on the injustices surrounding these characters in the time period leading up to WWII. How maddening it must be to see bizarre and discriminatory laws put into place. How frightening to see these policies affecting loved ones, neighbors, and innocent strangers. I appreciate @reneeryanbooks bringing the reader into protagonist Hattie’s mind as she wrestles with all the changing laws and their impacts in her life: “Deep in her soul, she knew she’d failed them. Next time she was confronted with gross injustice, she would not fail. She would not remain passive. She would not allow anyone to hold her back. No. Next time, Hattie promised herself, she would take a stand.”

If you love the arts, specifically opera and fine artwork, I think you’ll love how Renee weaves these beautiful elements throughout the story. I find it especially fun because in my 2nd grade curriculum, we study “The Magic Flute” opera, so I have rifts of the arias dancing through my head while Renee writes about it in her character Elsa!! 🎶

Was this review helpful?

When an opera star and two typists meet by chance, who knew it could be something far greater than either of them alone. As the women commit to saving Jews from the Nazis. This is their story.

The author did wonderful research for this book and as a result found the two sisters on which she bases this book. There’s something about a touch of real life in a books that makes it so much more real, but this words themselves are so touching and moving that you won’t be able to put this one down until you turn that last page. I wish I could give it more than five stars, it was that touching and well written.

Was this review helpful?

I just finished this book and wanted to go ahead and write a review while the story is still fresh in my mind and doesn’t get mixed up with another read!

This is the first book I’ve read by Renee Ryan and I think she’s a very good author. I enjoyed the characters, especially Hattie and Elsa and their friendship. In the notes at the end, the author details that Hattie and her sister Vera were based on real-life sisters Ida and Louise Cook, who were instrumental in rescuing Jews from Nazi Germany. I love factual details brought to life through fiction.

I received this book from the publisher via net galley in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Great historical novel about young women who saved lives of Jewish people who were facing more and more horrors in Germany and Austria in the time before and during WWII.

Elsa Mayer-Braun is a star opera singer. Her manager and conductor is planning for her to become even bigger and more famous. Hattie Featherstone and her sister Vera had a chance meeting with Elsa while waiting for tickets to Elsa's concert. Even though they were from very different backgrounds and lived in different countries, they formed a fast friendship and together, they decided to take on the dangerous task of smuggling Jews to safety. The story moves from the glamour of the operatic stage to a concentration camp.

This story is loosely based on real life sisters. Other characters in the book are real. The story is historically based. Touching, horrifying, and gratifying.

I received an advanced reader copy of the book. This is my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Female friendship and espionage set amongst the backdrop of World War II sounds like a recipe for success to me. Unfortunately, this novel didn't grip me as much as I had hoped it would, but I would still recommend it and look forward to reading more books from this author!

Was this review helpful?

An emotional heartbroken story that will make you feel all of the emotions and will definitely break your heart at times, it's a story of two sisters and a friend who come together to fight for what they believe in even through they know the dangers which could mean either their lives or imprisonment. The author brings to live their stories, as well as the history she based it on , so much so its like your truly there . AMOST READ .

Was this review helpful?

What a wonderful combination of art, opera, and fascinating story of WWII in Salzburg, Austria during WWII. Full of artistic details of an opera singer's life who is also part of a secret society to fight against the Nazism that has taken the country by storm. I couldn't put this fascinating novel down! Wonderful, captivating writing and original plot gives this novel the depth and ability to pull in any reader. I highly recommend this and I can't wait to own this novel in print. Highly recommended for historical fiction fans, but I believe anyone who is looking for a good book to read will love this!

Was this review helpful?

The Secret Society of Salzburg by Renee Ryan is a stand-alone WWll novel. When a rising young Austrian opera star meets a rising young British artist a life-long friendship is forged. Elsa and Hattie gave us a glimpse of what so many sacrificed during this turbulent point in history. Together they helped those less fortunate. The story skipped to different years, so you had to pay close attention when starting a new chapter. There was one scene that hinted at mature content but nothing was specific. Other than that, it was a very touching story filled with love and forgiveness.


I received this book from NetGalley for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

My thanks to Net Galley and Harlequin for this EXCELLENT arc to read and review.

Elsa Braun is a famous opera singer who befriends artist Hattie , her writer sister Vera. The sisters work to get Jews out of the country and Elsa enlists their services to do the same for her Aunt Malvania. However Elsas conductor husband Wilhelm is moving up in the Nazi party while Elsa does her work in secret. Elsa is then captured and taken to Bergen Belsen concentration camp? Who betrayed her? Wilhelm? Or someone else? Story alternates between Elsa s pov and Hattie and Vera's. Wonderful story of the power of friendship and hope.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: