Cover Image: The Secret Letter

The Secret Letter

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Member Reviews

As a family historian, I know that everyone has a tale to tell. While most of these stories are of everyday people living ordinary lives, occasionally an extraordinary tale is uncovered. Such is the case with The Secret Letter, written by Debbie Rix, a historical fiction novel inspired by her parents’ wartime experiences.

The Secret Letter tells the tale of two girls on the cusp of womanhood from opposing sides on the brink of war. Imogen Mitchell is a 15-year English girl whose family exiles her to the country when Great Britain declares war on Germany in 1939. For years, Imogen is disconnected from her family both physically and emotionally; her parent’s frequent letters and infrequent visits are her lifeline to her home, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Meanwhile, across the North Sea resides a 13-year old German farm girl named Magda Maier, whose older brother Karl is studying at Oxford University and whose best friend Lotte has been taken away because of her faith.

Despite their differences, Imogen and Magda share the same desire: to take down the Nazi regime. In 1943, Imogen becomes a plotter for the Women’s Royal Naval Service (known as the Wrens), working on classified troop movements. Magda joins die Weiße Rose (the White Rose), a resistance group led by German university students, as well as conceals and cares for injured Allied airmen at her family’s farm (both actions which are punishable by death). At first, it seems as if Imogen’s and Magda’s lives are completely separate, but soon, unbeknownst to them, fate inextricably entwines their lives together.

Poignant and pensive, The Secret Letter pulled me into its pages. I quickly came to care for both Imogen and Magda;. I was saddened by their heartaches and exhilarated by their joys. An exceptional tale of two ordinary women living extraordinary lives, I highly recommend The Secret Letter to anyone who appreciates a great story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bookouture, courtesy of a NetGalley giveaway. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
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This was such a good read.
Through the characters of two young girls growing up in World War 2, Imogen in England and Magda in German, we see the war through their eyes. And fascinating and moving are their stories. I learned such a lot as well as being entertained. I feel this would be a good read for adolescents too, a way of introducing the social history of this time. 
The author has obviously done a lot of research and she also tells us at the end of the book how her own family’s experiences influenced her writing. I love these stories about real lives entwined with fiction – such an effective way of including history with a narrative. I knew nothing about the White Rose Movement, for example, about a group of young Munich university students who attempted to fight back against Hitler. Such bravery. There are several accounts of courage in Debbie Rix’s story, bringing the reality of war home, and how it impacts on ordinary lives. I won’t give any spoilers, but I was pleased that not everything was neatly wrapped up at the end of the story. So much more realistic.
A very moving, beautifully written book.
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Beautifully written historical fiction that is not only a story of Imogene but of that time in history.  Well written and beautiful.
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In the author’s postscript at the end of this book, she explains that she really wanted to explore the humanity that exists in wartime - acts of selflessness and acts of courage.  I think she has most certainly achieved that aim in this story that was inspired by her own parents’ wartime experiences.

A very well-written plot that links the two main characters and their stories - Imogen in England and Magda in Germany.  Both characters are very likeable and Magda in particular really shines through as the heroine of the story.

My only and very slight criticism lies with the title - ‘The Secret Letter’ may give a small misconception that this is the main focus of the storyline throughout, when in actual fact the secret letter that Magda receives from her brother is only a small part of the overall story.  This however, does not detract from what is a beautiful story of ordinary people during the atrocities of World War 2.

Thank you to the publisher, Bookouture, via NetGalley for an early digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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WWII as seen through the eyes of two young girls English Imogen and German Magda, who become women during World War II.  This novel, based on the true story of the author's parents, gave us the perspective of what it was like to live through this horrific time.  This was an emotional read as you take the journey with these teenagers, who had no option but to mature and grow up before their childhood was over!  Highly recommended.
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The Secret Letter is such a beautiful book, made especially emotional by the fact is is based on the wartime experiences of the author’s parents.
Two girls, one English, one German, grow up during the Second World War. Separated by geography but united in their passion to defeat the Nazis, Imogen and Magda become young women facing the reality of war.
Imogen is in love with Freddie but he joins the war effort and tells her to forget him in case he doesn’t come back. Magda falls in love with an injured airman but can’t avoid Hitler Youth fanatic (and later SS officer) Otto.
I admit that when I started this book I imagined the two girls would have more of a link than they actually ended up with. But actually it was so much better this way as it allowed the author to explore two complete stories with brief connections rather than have one story intermingled, making it much more powerful.
Both Imogen and Magda begin the book as children so are quite naive. As they grow into women, they become more aware of the war and determined to fight injustice. Both women are independent and even ambitious. Love for their countries, and hope for a better Nazi free future, inspires them to help the war effort in whatever way they can.
This book by Debbie Rix firmly focuses on the bravery and hope of those fighting against Nazi rule. There is also sadness about the reality of war and the difficulties faced by civilians. As well as using her own parents’ experiences and letters, the author has obviously done plenty of research to underscore the fictional plot with real life events.
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Very well researched and thoughtful writing. I enjoyed reading about The Wrens which I haven’t read about before in other WW2 fiction novels. Overall a great read.
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A book told from the perspective of two characters living in two different countries while experiencing a war that changed each.  This story is so good. I loved reading about the war from Magda's perspective.  She is a truly brave girl.  Imogen's side was also gripping,  but seeing how these two lives intertwined was so powerful.  This book was spectacular!  I highly recommend this book!!
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This is one of those books that once read you will never forget.
It follows the life of two girls.from teenage years through to adulthood. 
Set during the Second World War with one living in England and the other in Germany.
It focuses on the trials and tribulations that these girls suffer due to the war.
What is great about the book is that it highlights the fear and traumas that German people had to deal with if they did not agree with Nazi regime and the way that the population were lies to about the atrocities carried out in their name.
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I absolutely devoured this in a couple of days. The story follows two girls - one 13 year old Magda, in Germany and the other 15 year old Imogen in England. Magda lives on a farm in the German countryside while Imogen lives in Newcastle. The story is mainly set in the war years from 1939 but touches on the 1950s and the present day too.

Magda has to keep quiet that she is sympathetic to the other side while having to endure the German Girls League, part of the Hitler Youth and the unwanted attention of it's local rising star. She lives at home helping out at the family farm. Imogen and her friend Joy were shipped off to the sleepy lakes to continue with school and she's training to be an architect when war breaks out and takes leave of her course to become a Wren.

The stories of both girls kept me interested throughout and their stories are very cleverly interwoven. I found it fascinating to read about their experiences during the war and all the people they met and the circumstances they found themselves in.  Highly recommend.
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This was so good! Like, I cannot believe how good it was. I knew it would be interesting for me, but I cannot put into words how impressed I am by it.

I loved reading about the two contrasting experiences, and seeing both the similarities and differences between the two girls experiences in different countries. I've read a lot of fiction based in England in WW2, so i particularly enjoyed reading Magda's sections.

I don't want to give too much away, but I have to say, for anyone who likes WW2 fiction I would say this is a must read. It is fantastically written, the characters are so well constructed, and the plot is heartbreakingly beautiful.
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Thank you netgalley for the arc of this book in exchange for a fair review.  This was a different WW2 story. I enjoyed learning about the 2 main women in the story and how much they were the same and how determined they both were in their own way.  I don’t want to spoil the story so I won’t.  If you enjoy twists and turns and not totally predictably endings you’ll enjoy this book.
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This World War II novel spans the entirety of the war and focuses on two girls growing into young woman, one in Germany, the other in England. From Hitler youth and evacuation to resistance and joining the war efforts to acts of kindness and romance that will entangle their faiths, both their stories are mirrored as much as possible in an interesting but never forced manner. There is a lot of strength in both these female characters, which was nice to read about, and it was a well researched historical novel. There was also a strong romance element to it, which I felt undercut the meaning of those women breaking the mold and fighting for justice. Not to say they are not allowed to fall in love, but I thought the romance took up a little too much space here. Which is why, in the end, this was an enjoyable novel and a great, compelling read, but not a particularly memorable book or one that I would necessarily want to pick up again and again.
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I want to begin by saying that I received this book for free through Netgalley, but all thoughts are my own. This book is based around WW2, which is already an era I am interested in. It’s written from two different perspectives, one being of an English girl named Imogen and one of a German girl named Magda. These two girls end up being connected, and this book tells their stories. It’s based on a true story, partially of the authors own father who was an RAF pilot in the war while her mother was in the Wrens. The story of this book really gripped me and I ended up absolutely devouring this book in a matte of days and thoroughly felt connected to it and later knowing that it is based on a true story really makes me admire it more. The writing is very well done, and I even felt like I was learning about the situations for young girls in England during the war, but also felt like I was gaining more of an understanding about the fact that even Germans knew what Hitler was doing to some extent and hated it, but couldn’t express their feelings due to the fear of being killed. This book does also have a focus around love and loss, both romantically and a friendship type of love, and the way these loves wrapped up did actually put a smile on my face! This is definitely one of those books that fans of The Book Thief and The Tattooist of Auschwitz should read. This book in particular isn’t strictly holocaust related (although it is mentioned in some ways of course) but it gives another perspective of life in Germany during the war, as well as life in England, which is something I haven’t read much about. So I very much enjoyed the inclusion of both sides of the story of WW2. Overall this was such a beautiful book, Magda and Imogen were such wonderful, strong, brave, intelligent characters and I thought this was so well written and so moving. Please give this a read!
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Thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is a good story that explores the perspectives of two young girls from different countries during WW2. One , Imogen, is from England and the other, Magda, from Germany. I have to say that I enjoyed Magda's story much more than that of Imogen. The first third of the book felt like it was more directed at younger readers but as the girls matured, the writing style seemed to grow with them.. The storyline focuses more on hope and doing what is right then on the horrors of what happened during WW2. In saying that there is still a sense of the perils faced by the people of the time, both the Jewish population and anyone that was opposed to the government. The narrative felt like someone's true life story so I wasn't surprised to read that the author had based some of the 
story on the lives of her parents.
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This book reminded me again why I love historical fiction novels so much.  Even though history is based on facts, there are so many points of view to describe it and so many different situations and feelings that people experienced during specific period, that we can have endless stories to write about it. “The Secret Letter” is yet another version of people’s experience during WWII written in a truly beautiful and engaging style. 

Two girls, Imogen and Magda, are forced to live through one of the most horrifying times in world’s history, but with their strong determination and courageous actions, not only they survive WWII but they are also able to make a significant difference in their and other people’s lives. This is a story of bravery, kindness, love, and humanity. What makes this novel even more special is that it is based on a true story of author parents’ experience during WWII.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves historical fiction genre, and I am definitely looking forward to reading other books by Debbie Rix.

Thank you NetGalley, Bookouture, and the author, talented Debbie Rix, for giving me an opportunity to read an ARC copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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The Secret Letter is a stunning novel.  I love WW2 stories as even though fiction there is basis of what really happened.  This story is about two young girls. One in Germany and one in the UK.  Imogen is evecuated from her loving home in Newcastle and Magda at first is immune to what is happening on her farm outside the town.  The story follows the girls growing into adults and the bravery they showed.  Magda joins the resistance and Imogen becomes a Wren. It is fascinating reading how the German public completely fell for the propaganda and revered Hitler and the Nazis. It is horrifying reading about young boys who join the Hitler Youth becoming cruel and violent and neighbours turning on each other. A really moving read learning how different people survived the war. A great connection between these two young women. Highly recommend for those who love historic fiction.
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Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  

This is a very moving story of two young women in different parts of Europe whose lives are nevertheless interwoven during WWII. In Germany, Magda watches as her dear friend Lotte is taken away to a concentration camp. She realizes that she does not fit in with the other girls in the village who take pride and pleasure in the Hitler Youth. She joins a secret movement to try to bring an early end to the war. When an RAF pilot lands near her home, her first instinct is to help even though it could mean risking her own life along with her family's.

In England, Imogen is evacuated from the city to the country side with her classmates for their own safety. Like Magda, she dreams of the end of the war so that she can get on with her life. The story is told from the perspectives of both girls, weaving back and forth between the two of them. At times heart-breaking and at other times uplifting.
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This is the parallel story of two young girls, and their lives through the Second World War.  Both of their stories were so good, with one of them having a better life than the other but both survived the bad times.  Their lives are linked by Magda's brother and Imogen's husband.   An excellent book.
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I have bee reading World War 2 stories for a while, and every time I read one new book, I learn something more. Some books are good, some others are far better. This is t case of The Secret Letter by Debbie Rix. I could not put it down. And on the other hand, I did not want to finish it, because I will miss Imogen and Magda.
Apart from the story itself, it shows how on both sides of the conflict, there are human beings, with feelings, beliefs, and worries. In every war, everybody loses. In every side, you have to resign your happiness and act according to the situations, to save your life and others'
Highly recommend it. Thank you Bookouture to let me read this book for an honest review.
The Secret Letter is released July 22nd. 2019. Don't miss it.
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