Cover Image: The Secret Letter

The Secret Letter

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

The Secret Letter
by Debbie Rix


Bookouture

Historical Fiction , Literary Fiction

Pub Date 22 Jul 2019


I am reviewing a copy of The Secret Letter through Bookoture and Netgalley:



In Germany in 1939 thirteen year old Magda is devastated by the loss of her best friend shy and gentle Lotte who was snatched away from her and sent to a concentration camp, wearing a Star Of David, Sean to her faded brown coat.  Magda realizes she’s not like the other girls in her village as she hates the fanatical new rules of the Hitler youth, leading Magda to secretly join The White Rose Movement.  She begins to rebel against the world around her.





When an English RAF Pilot Lands in a field near Magda’s house she finds herself having to make an impossible choice to risk the lives of her family or to save a stranger and make a difference in a war she wants to end.



In England in 1939 Imogen is a fifteen year old girl is taken from her family and evacuated to the Lake District what is believed to be a haven of safety even with war raging all through Europe.  All she has to connect her to the bombs and the battles are the letters she writes to her loved ones. What she does’t know, on the other side of the enemy line, her fate rests on the actions of a girl who will change her life forever…



I found The Secret Letter to be a powerful and well written novel...


Five out of five stars!
Was this review helpful?
The author did a great job of writing about a period in our history that was horrendous.  I found myself wanting to learn more after reading this book and spent time researching online.  Definitely recommend this one!
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars
When a story is inspired by real courageous people, it always feels so much more meaningful and this novel based on the author’s parents is no exception. Alternating narratives reflect the experiences of two young girls who come of age during WWII. Magda, a German girl living on a farm with her family sees her school friend Lotte, who is Jewish, taken away with her family. She is influenced by her brother Karl, who is in England at university when he writes her a letter divulging that he is totally against what Hitler is doing and will not come back to fight for Germany. She courageously joins the White Rose Movement, a resistance movement and puts herself and her family in danger as well as the British airmen she hides. In England, another young girl, Imogen, based on the author’s mother, is one of the children evacuated to the countryside by their parents to keep them safe from the bombing. She becomes a WREN and does her part for the war effort while trying to find herself. The connection between them becomes apparent and is moving. 

There were times early in the book where I felt this was more of a YA story, simplistic at times when Magda and Imogen were young girls . I almost gave it up thinking this was not for me, but I became interested in what would happen to them. They grew up to be young women and it became for me an intriguing story of courage and love. It was light on the depiction of the Holocaust, but it is still an important story reflecting the impact of the war on German citizens, all of whom may not have supported Hitler and there were some courageous people who resisted. It is also a tribute to the author’s parents by telling some of their story. 3.5 stars for a worthwhile read. 

I received an advanced copy of this book from Bookouture through NetGalley.
Was this review helpful?
The Secret Letter by Debbie Rix

Brief Summary: Magda is a 13 year old girl growing up in the German countryside during WWII; where she joins the Hitler Youth Organization but doesn’t subscribe to their values. She gets involved with the White Rose Movement and then makes the ultimate decision to hide a downed RAF pilot in her home to do her part to end the cause. Imogen is a 15 year old girl evacuated to the English countryside who later joins the Wrens to aide the war effort. These two girls’ coming of age stories ultimately cross in unexpected ways. I am a WWII historical fiction enthusiast and genuinely enjoyed this book. 

Highlights: Magda’s story was far more engrossing and I often skimmed Imogen’s story in a rush to get back to her. I enjoyed learning about the experiences of the German civilians during the war and how even they were in danger if they weren’t sympathetic to the cause of the Reich. I really identified with Magda’s rebellious spirit and determination to help in anyway that she could. This story highlights the uncertainty of their lives during the war and how they managed this. Two of these characters are based on the author’s parents and inspired by their own WWII letters and journals.   

Explanation of Rating:  4/5 I really enjoyed Magda’s story but Imogen’s was slow at times.

Favorite Quotes: “Who knew what the future might bring? No one knew what to expect the following week or the following day for that matter. Life itself was uncertain and all anyone could do was get on with it.”

This is a must read for World War II fiction enthusiasts and a good read for book clubs.

Thank you to Net Galley and Bookouture for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review
Was this review helpful?
Even though there are plenty of books about World War II, this book , which is partially based on the author's own parents, showcases two characters completely different from those that have come before. Magda is a German girl and although she was forced to be part of the League of German Girls, she never really agreed with the Nazi ideals,  and the way they treated people. Inspired by her brother's work with the resistance in England, she joins up with a group of college students trying to fight against the Nazi propaganda and that is only the beginning of her efforts to subvert the German machine. Imogen is an English girl  as child, she is sent away to school to keep her safe from the bombing, but when she gets older, she to do wants to do her part so she joins the Women's Royal Naval Service ( the Wrens). Both girls are extremely brave and inspirational. The  books is exciting and dramatic, but at times it sweet and romantic too. It is a really great read.
Was this review helpful?
I love a good historical fiction novel, but this one really is outstanding.

It moves back and forth between the stories of Magda in Germany, and Imogen, in England. I liked both characters and they had great depth to them.

While I’ve read many novels set in this era before, this one stands out for several reasons. Firstly, we get an insight into what it was like for those in Germany, a side we don’t often see. Of particular interest is what life was like for those who didn’t agree with what the government was doing, and also a real account of how deep the propaganda and the brainwashing, particularly of the young, went.

I also found Imogen’s story to be fascinating. The detail of her work with the wrens was so interesting. I hadn’t realised quite how much responsibility some of the Wrens had, and what a key part they had to play in the war effort.

Of course, what makes this novel so readable and such compelling stuff is the people in it. Such depth of character and such moving stories make for a real page-turner of a book. The fact that it is inspired by real life events makes it even more poignant.

I really enjoyed this book and was sorry when it came to an end, even though the ending was perfect. Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?
First of all I would like to thank the author, Bookouture and NetGalley for letting me read this advance copy in exchange for my unbiased review.  I love reading books about the Second World War and I really enjoyed this book.  It tells the stories of two families affected by the war; one in England and the other in Germany. 
     Imogen is the British girl who is based on the author’s mother and Magda is the German girl who is instrumental in helping Imogen’s future husband when he is shot down over Germany. The two women meet after the war when the story comes to a conclusion.  
     The book was very well written and totally believable.  The characters were likable and all in all a great story.
Was this review helpful?
First, the cover of The Secret Letter by Debbie Rix is stunning. Second, my mother-in-law was a war bride and spoke of her stories as a Wren during WWII, so I was excited to read the author’s story based on her parents’ experiences during the war. The story Of Imogen and Magda are heartwarming, chilling,  and courageous. A few tears were shed during the reading of this book. Their stories will stick with this reader for quite awhile. Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for an ARC in exchange for an honest review,
Was this review helpful?
✡ ✡ ✡ ✡ ✡

Inspired by the true story of the author's own parents, THE SECRET LETTER is a beautiful tale about bravery, kindness and hope in a time of war and devastation from the perspective of two very different - and yet somewhat comparable - girls. This touching tale is also incredibly heart wrenching, highlighting the horrors of World War 2 from both sides in a unique way. Imogen and Magda, both extremely affected by the war, may be separated by hundreds of miles but they are united by similar convictions...though it was hardly likely they would ever meet. Their stories intertwine as they come of age and grow into strong young women who each play their own important part in the war...and beyond.

It's 1939 and we begin with 15 year old Imogen growing up in Newcastle in the north east of England. As an only child of somewhat affluent parents, she is not spoilt but rather wise, even if a little mischievous. When war breaks out, her school is evacuated to the Lakes District and the girls billeted to various families in the Keswick area. She passes her time writing letters home to her parents and rambling up gorgeous mountains like Skiddaw with her best friend Joy and fellow evacuee Helen, whilst harbouring a secret love for neighbour Freddie who was away at university before joining the RAF. 

Even at 15, Imogen displays a strength of character in her stubbornness and determination. Her letters home are filled with a contrariness as she describes her thoughts on the war and then asking for money for new shoes in the next line. It was quite amusing but also a reflection of the times from the perspective of a young girl still coming to terms with her own journey through adolescence. She meets young Dougie who amuses her as they spend a lot of time together, growing closer, and yet while she is drawn to him she still finds herself carrying a torch for Freddie back home.

The girls go back home to Newcastle during the holidays which begs the question - why is it safe to return home for the holidays but not during the school term? Imogen said it best when she stated "I think the idea was for our schooling not to be disturbed. If we die in the holidays that’s not so important." I thought that an amusing line. A little bit of humour amidst a troubling time, one needs to keep their sense of humour.

Imogen completes her schooling in the Lakes and returns home to Newcastle a couple of years later to attend university where she wanted to study engineering but her gender deems her unable. So she turns to architecture and completes her first year before she is required to join the national service upon turning 19. She joins the Wrens, along with best friend Joy, and she serves as a plotter whilst Joy is a typist having been to secretarial school. Her time as a plotter leads her to London, then later Portsmouth and even Paris where she thrives as a Wren, serving under some important military powers of the time. She comes into fleeting contact with Prime Minister Churchill, King George VI and General Eisenhower as the war begins to culminate. During this time, she is fortunate to have Joy alongside her as they both find love and heartbreak in equal measure  before the war is over.

It is during this time she meets American Ben who falls in love with her and asks her to marry him. Imogen enjoys his company and despite being wary, graciously accepts. However, she is moved to Portsmouth under the cover of secrecy leading up to D-Day and she hears nothing from him again until her station in Paris. But the giddiness she felt in his presence has been replaced by discontent and irritation. Does she really love him or was it just a fascination? She realised that she knew nothing about him such was the secrecy of his involvement. Her mother says when you marry someone you will love them forever, with all their foibles and their faults as well as for their gifts and advantages. The problem is the secrecy surrounding Ben's involvement in the war was promising to continue afterwards, and Imogen wasn't sure she wanted that. She was enjoying her new-found independence and she was unwilling to give that up. 

Then there is Magda, who is just 13 years old and living amidst the growing unrest of Germany. She is devastated by the loss of her best friend Lotte who was cruelly snatched along with her family and sent to a concentration camp - the Star of David sewn into their coats. Magda didn't understand why she could no longer be friends with Lotte. The fact that she was Jewish was not important; she was her best friend. When Magda receives a letter from her brother Karl, who is studying in England and a staunch objector of his country's new ways, she is shocked by the contents unable to comprehend much of what he was alluding to. At the end of the letter, Karl urged her to show no one and to burn after reading it. But Magda could not. What if it was the last letter from her beloved brother? She desperately wanted to show her mother so she could shed some light on what he was saying...but to do so would be a betrayal to her brother. Instead, she secreted it away in her Bible.

As the Nazi's power takes hold, Magda begins to see a new Germany - one that she does not like nor agree with and the one Karl had alluded to in his secret letter. The fanatical new rules of the Hitler Youth, a group a boys who instill fear in villagers if they do not conform to the new way of the Fuhrer, makes her seethe with anger and yet she cannot escape. On her next birthday she must join the Young Maidens, a group of young, ripe girls who must strive to become the epitome of the perfect German woman/wife - blonde, blue-eyed and submissive - as broodmares for perfect Aryan children. But Magda secretly refuses to conform and joins the White Rose movement, a German resistance who rebel against the oppressive frightening world around them. 

But what Magda does not count on is Otto. He is one of the Hitler Youth - a bully - aspiring to the Fuhrer and exclaiming his proclamations. Otto claims Magda as his own (whether she likes it or not) and unfortunately, to save herself and her family from death, she must agree to be Otto's girlfriend - as much as the idea repulses her. When he rises to the rank of an SS officer, Magda is relieved to be reprieved from Otto's wandering hands and ever-watchful eye. 

Then an enemy plane - a Lancaster bomber - crashes just beyond the boundary of their farm, and Magda and her father find six dead airmen and one barely alive. Magda insists on helping him and hides him in the secret attic of their farmhouse. By now, Magda is 16 and is incredibly resourceful for her age but she is also determined not to let the abhorrent new rules of her country quash the basic laws of humanity nor dictate her ability to help someone in need. She didn't ask for this war, she didn't want it and she doesn't agree with anything the new regime stands for. And so, over the course of the next few weeks Magda becomes friends with the British airman, Michael. She has never met anyone like him nor he her. Locked away in the small dark attic room, Michael sees no one but Magda and her kindness towards him - the enemy - touches him. Inevitably, they fall in love. But when Otto returns suddenly, Magda must keep Michael safe as the unthinkable happens, tearing her world apart. She must help Michael escape before Otto returns, lest they all be killed. Their parting words for him to return after the war so they could marry, and it is these words, and the promise of brighter days, that keep Magda soldiering on.

So how do Imogen and Magda's worlds intersect? Hundreds of miles apart and even worlds away from one another, these two women's stories tells of life in such a frightening time. The sheer horror of hearing bombs dropping, of having them fall in your path, the panic each time an air raid siren sounds - a sound which now reduces my own dad to tears at the memory of being a child during the war - all of this and more is just mind-blowing that the strength of mankind can live through such a horrific and turbulent time.

Most of us only hear about the war from the British side but what was it like for the Germans who rebelled against Hitler's regime? What makes this story so unique is that we not only hear the British aspect but we also hear a German's perspective. Back in the day, all Germans were seen as the enemy but not all Germans WERE the enemy. This story shows us just that. The abhorrent rules inflicted on the German people under Hitler's despicable and repulsive dictatorship were abominable, to say the least. I would not have liked to have lived under those conditions, against everything I believed in, under a dictator as repugnant as him. Christmas was even taken away from them. No longer could you decorate your trees with stars as it was seen too similar the Star of David and that was assigned to the Jewish people who were banished from their country. Instead they had to decorate with gold swastikas. They even began to pray to the Fuhrer. All schools had to teach the ways of the Fuhrer and not historical fact or even fact, for that matter. It was eye-opening to read just how these new rules were forced upon the Germans and if they dared to go against them, they faced imprisonment or even death. 

THE SECRET LETTER is so beautifully written I was completely captivated by every aspect that I didn't want it to end. It was emotional, it was heartbreaking, it was touching, it was eye-opening, it was compelling but most of all it was just simply beautiful. What people of the time had to live through at the hands of a dictator wreaking havoc on a world he wanted to make perfect for himself, it was an horrific reminder of what mankind could do to fellow human beings.

The narrative between the two perspectives of Imogen and Magda is both intriguing and heartbreaking. Both young woman experience first loves, new emotions, heartbreak and disappointment. I loved reading their stories, noting how different their childhoods and journeys into womanhood were, but appreciating them just the same. Each girl/woman had a story to tell and each played an important part to that tale. The beautifully intricate way in which their stories entwine made THE SECRET LETTER a compelling read.

The fact that Imogen's story was based on the author's own parents added to the book's believability. Her mother was a WREN and her father was an RAF pilot who was shot down over Germany. Using her mother's letters, her father's logbook and diaries, she was able to draw a picture of Imogen based on her mother. Some of Imogen's letters were even her mother's written verbatim. It gave a whole new element of realism to the story that made for compelling reading.

I truly appreciated THE SECRET LETTER so much more than I ever expected - I think for being so unique in its perspective. Unlike many others, I don't care how much is actually based on historical fact or how much has been embellished because I am not reading a reference book - I am reading a story. And what a beautiful story it was! Basically, I adored this book from start to finish.

THE SECRET LETTER is a book I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to any fans of WW2 era historical fiction. In fact, I can't recommend it highly enough. If I could give it 10 stars, I would!

I would like to thank #DebbieRix, #NetGalley and #Bookouture for an ARC of #TheSecretLetter in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
EXCERPT: The letter landed on the mat, just as Imogen walked into the narrow hall from the kitchen. She usually ignored the uninteresting brown envelopes that slipped through the letter box. They lay undisturbed for days in an untidy pile until she was forced to gather them up simply to open the door. But even at a distance, this handwritten envelope was intriguing. In spite of her arthritis, she bent down slowly and retrieved it, along with the pile of bills, and carried them through to the conservatory at the back of the house, Winter sun streamed in as she sat down in her favourite wicker armchair. She laid the unwanted mail on the kelim covered footstool in front of her and examined the handwritten envelope, noting the German postmark and slid her long elegant finger under the flap.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Germany, 1939: Thirteen-year-old Magda is devastated by the loss of her best friend, shy and gentle Lotte, cruelly snatched from her and sent to a concentration camp – the Star of David sewn on her faded, brown coat. As the Nazi’s power takes hold, Magda realizes she’s not like the other girls in her village - she hates the fanatical new rules of the Hitler Youth. So Magda secretly joins The White Rose movement and begins to rebel against the oppressive, frightening world around her. 

But when an English RAF pilot lands in a field near Magda’s home she is faced with an impossible choice: to risk the lives of her family or to save a stranger and make a difference in the war she desperately wants to end. 

England, 1939: Fifteen-year-old Imogen is torn from her family and evacuated to the Lake District, a haven of safety away from the war raging across Europe. All she has to connect her to the bombs and the battles are the letters she writes to her loved ones. Little does she know, on the other side of the enemy line, her fate rests on the actions of one girl who will change her life forever…

MY THOUGHTS: I didn't get what I was expecting.....and that was a secret revealed by a long lost letter that, through some circumstance, suddenly comes to light. To that end I think the book is mis-named. But that really is my only criticism of The Secret Letter. There is a secret letter, written by Karl to his sister Magda which, although he demands that she destroy it after reading, she hides in her bible. 

What I did get was a beautifully written story, based on reality, set during WWII. The characters are well fleshed out and totally believable, as is the plot. The story begins with a letter received by Imogen in 2018, from Magda, a woman in Germany who had met Imogen's husband during the war, inviting her to Germany. The story then backtracks to 1939 and we experience the war through the eyes of two young women, Magda in Germany and Imogen in England, firstly as schoolgirls then as young women helping with the war effort, before coming back to 2018/19 for a reunion of the survivors. 

I think that because the author has based some of the story on the wartime experiences of her parents, there is an enhanced sense of reality; of people just getting on with it as best they could. While the war itself was inhumane, there were a lot of instances where people went to extreme lengths to help others, and these actions form the heart of this book. In the author's own words, 'I wanted more than anything else to explore the humanity that exists in wartime - the acts of selflessness and nobility, as well as the love and loss that affected ordinary people.....I also discovered acts of great courage performed by those who chose to rebel against the Nazi regime.'

Debbie Rix has done a wonderful job of portraying the ordinary people who had to fight and whose lives were devastated by the war. She has included them all, from the woman who simply went to bed and didn't get up again, to those who put their own lives on the line. 

This is the first book I have read by this author. It won't be the last. 

🤩😍😥😍🤩

THE AUTHOR: 
I started writing novels after a long career in broadcasting and journalism. My first novel - The Girl with Emerald Eyes (originally published as 'Secrets of the Tower' in March 2015), is set in two time zones - the modern day and 12th century. It explores the extraordinary woman who left the money to build the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 
My second novel: Daughters of the Silk Road follows the journey of a family of merchant explorers who return to Venice from China with a Ming Vase. The book again straddles two time zones. 
The Silk Weaver's Wife was published in 2017 and is set in the world of the Italian silk industry. The period story follows the journey of a young Veronese woman who is forced into an abusive marriage. The modern heroine uncovers her remarkable story.
My last two novels are set in 20th century. 'The Photograph' tells the story of Hungarian refugee Rachael who escapes to London from Budapest in 1956. Travelling to Sardinia with her archaeologist father, she meets the man who will change her life. Meanwhile in 2018, her anthropologist grand-daughter Sophie is struggling with infertility. As their two stories intertwine, Sophie uncovers her grandmother's secret.
My latest novel: 'The Secret Letter' is due out on 22nd July. It explores the lives of two young girls in the 2nd world war - Imogen separated from her parents as an evacuee, and Magda who is determined to fight the Nazi regime. Their lives are brought together by a young RAF pilot. The story is based in part on the extraordinary experiences of my father who escaped a German prisoner of war camp at the end of the war.
I live in Kent with my family, four cats and chickens. 

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Secret Letter by Debbie Rix for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. 

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, my Goodreads.com page and my webpage
Was this review helpful?
The Secret Letter by Debbie Rix was inspired by a true wartime story as the authors parents were in the RAF and the Wrens respectively. She has used elements of their story to write what became a beautifully crafted story following two different women and their experiences during World War Two. The brief prologue really sets the scene for the story that unfolds.

In September 2018 Imogen receives a handwritten letter with a German postmark from Magda, a person she has never met. Magda knew Imogen's husband during the war and now all these years later she wishes to commemorate the part he played in a major event in the small town she lives in in the German countryside. Instantly, the reader's instinct is piqued and there are all sorts of questions and ideas running through your mind. You want all the answers immediately but before that can happen an absorbing, tense and emotional story must be told. The book is divided into four distinct parts which begin in 1939 and will eventually bring us up to the present day. But it is the sections set during the war years that make for an interesting, impassioned and fascinating read and one where the sacrifices of so many will long live on in your mind.

The chapters alternate between Magda and Imogen and once you settle into the rhythm of the story and know to expect that each chapter will switch between characters you immerse yourself into the story and are keen to discover how eventually the connections between the two women become apparent. Part one was very much introductory for the first quarter of the book, it was entitled the Phoney War and to be honest not much happened bar the reader getting to know the two girls and their family situation. I suppose it was similar to worldwide events with the war that there was a period of waiting and anticipating to see what the next move should be once war was declared. Once I reached the halfway point I found myself really absorbed in what was going on and starting to deeply care for the characters.

The first section followed Imogen as she was evacuated from Newcastle for fear of the city being bombed. She is moved with her school to the Lake District, she is very much an innocent teenager and I don't think she realised the true extent of what was about to unfold. That her sheltered childhood where she had been provided with everything she wanted would be dramatically altered. She spends the remaining years of her education in the Lake District and her focus does switch to men, Dougie being one but always at the back of her mind is family friend Freddie McMasters. Over several chapters we see how the affects of the war are beginning to be felt in Imogen's life and the same is said for Magda in Germany.

I thought it was brilliant that the author took two women, but both from very different backgrounds and opposites sides of the fence so to speak, and wrote about how different countries and families dealt with the war. We always get to read of English characters and their experiences of war but never German families. It provided a very different slant to war time fiction books and I think Debbie Rix has brought something fresh and innovative to this genre in which I have read many books. It also showed how not every German believed what was happening to their country and the actions of Hitler were right.

Magda has led a sheltered life on her family's farm deep in the Bavarian countryside with Augsburg being the nearest city. Her brother Karl had left Germany to study in England and it is when she receives a letter from him that things begin to change for her. For several years now Hitler and his ideologies have been forced upon the German people with endless propaganda in a bid to indoctrinate the nation and many believe everything he says but the contents of the letter sow a seed in Magda's mind. She begins to realise that all is not as it seems and when her close friend Lotte's family are taken away simply for being Jewish Magda herself starts to rebel. She doesn't want to be part of the Young Maidens, the female equivalent of the Hitler Youth. Nor does she believe in the German's racial superiority over many races especially the Jews. Magda doesn't agree with the new rules enforced upon Germans nor does she think victories should be celebrated. She wants to make a stand as she rightly believes that German citizens were being denied their liberty and their lives because they were Jewish or because of their Catholic faith saw them being at odds with what the Nazi's wanted everyone to believe. Yet the character of Otto makes Magda be more than wary of broadcasting her views.

Initially I found both Magda and Imogen to be quite immature and difficult to warm to but it is only as the story moves forward over the course of the war and these two young girls develop into young women both with incredible spirit, heart and determination that the reader comes to understand what connections in terms of personality they share. They mature into responsible adults deeply affected by what they witness but both equally determined to fight for what is right and to do their bit to see an end to such bloodshed and unnecessary evil. I thought Magda's parents, in particular her mother Kathe, weren't very clued in as to what Magda was up to. Kathe lived in a perpetual state of fear and she didn't like that Magda was thinking outside the box.

On the one hand I found Magda to be silly for putting her family in unnecessary danger. Maybe she should have just toed the line and fallen into step with what was required of Germans at the time just to make it through the war unscathed. But then I thought maybe she was very brave and deserved admiration for standing true to her principles. Life was uncertain and all anyone could do was go with it but she choose to go against the norm and fight for what she believed in. She helped anyone in need and by doing this various other strands of the story developed.

Both women had very different experiences during the war but to me Magda was the stand out character and she was truly extraordinary and remarkable for what she did. She is stubborn and wilful and at times you will find yourself wanting to shake her but then you see her loyalty and firm belief holding strong and true. She was selfless in some of her actions and the further her story developed during the later years of the war I was still constantly guessing as to how she does end up with connections to Imogen as suggested during the prologue. As for Imogen once she completed her first year studying architecture signing up for war work became compulsory. It was fascinating the work she was engaged in and when we are first introduced to her I never thought this was what she would end up doing as she seemed so childish and never one to settle to anything.

It was clear a lot of detailed research had been undertake by the author particularly in relation to Imogen's war work and again it's something I haven't really seen written about before in this genre. Of course romance does very much feature in this story, both for Magda and Imogen, because life and love do continue despite the ongoing horror and devastation. With regard to Imogen I thought she was being hasty and should have sought answers but when certain secrets are revealed you are left with a smile on your face as you understand just how clever the author has been.

The Secret Letter was a slow burner for me but once it found its footing the story really got going and I found myself racing through the latter half of the book more than keen to discover how all the dots would be joined up. I had my initial thoughts as to how the two strands of the story related to each other. There was a slight apprehension on my part that the ultimate reveal would be a disappoint or would fall a little flat but that wasn't the case at all. Instead it all felt very heart-warming and life affirming and it brought the story full circle with all loose ends being tied up. By the mid way point of the book, I truly felt I had travelled back in time and I felt every bit of the characters fear and anguish but also their willingness, boldness and bravery to fight for what is right and to always stand true to your principles and beliefs. The Secret Letter is an impressive read from Debbie Rix who is an expert at bringing the past to life and who has written a book which reminds us to never forget the sacrifices so many made in the past so we could live the way we do today.
Was this review helpful?
The Secret Letter is an exceptionally well written story of two girls who become young women during WWII, and the author significantly threads the historical context at the time into each of their lives. Particularly impressive are the relationships each girl has with her parents. Both girls' mothers are strong influences in their lives; both families are strong units; the fathers are supportive and understanding. The dialogue among the family members is believable, as though it had been witnessed or recorded.
 Imogen is English, upper middle class, and motivated to attend University, rare for most women at the time. Magda is German, the daughter of farmers who run their own farm and make an independent living. She, too, aspires for an education not typically available for women. 
Imogen's experience is that she has to leave her home to live with foster families in the countryside, along with other British children, as a precaution against German bombs in the cities. Imogen loves Freddie, a boy she has known all her life but has to wait for through the duration of the war. War temporarily disrupts her plans but offers her the opportunity of a lifetime, to work with British intelligence as a plotter of strategic military maneuvers.
Magda's experience is that she has to belong to Hitler's Youth groups and participate in the required training for service in a movement that repulses her. She is pursued by Otto, a firm believer in the Third Reich, a frightening character who becomes an SS officer. Magda's experience is more difficult, more complicated, and yet every bit as interesting and involved as Imogen's.
The historical events as they occurred at the time in England and in Germany are informative and relevant to the stories of Imogen and Magda. There are really three stories here: Imogen's, Magda's, and the history being made at the time. The characters are believable, the stories well told, the history well researched and incorporated into the plot. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for the advanced copy.
Was this review helpful?
The cover is what first drew me to the book. Second was the historical fiction. I absolutely  love reading about WWll. This story is so beautifully written. I can’t wait to read more, by Debbie Rix.
Was this review helpful?
What a delightful read! I’m always drawn to historical fiction, but truthfully there are times when reading accounts of World War 2 when it’s too much for me to read as a form of entertainment. I felt that this book was hopeful enough, while still telling the sad, realistic stories that accompany this period in history. I enjoyed the characters and thinking about how different scenarios were taking place with youth of similar ages. How experienced similar things, but with their own personal elements. I also love when stories have storylines that are parallel, but also intersect in sweet ways. I really enjoyed that aspect of this book.
Was this review helpful?
The Secret Letter: Gripping and heartbreaking WW2 historical fiction by [Rix, Debbie]This historical fiction is set during WWII in Germany and England.
Magda, one of the main characters lives near Augsburg, Germany on a farm. Her brother, Karl, attends Oxford University. Magda misses her brothers so much, so when she received a letter telling about the war she kept it, even though he asked her to destroy it. This action leads to danger for her family. Magda has also been encouraged to join a German Girls League.
Another of the characters, Imogen, who lives in England with her friends. They have all been sent away from home to live in other towns.
The story grows by telling each girl's story as the war goes on. Including their plans when they grow up.
This story is so moving. It caught at my heart from the beginning. I recommend this book highly.
This book was sent to me by NetGalley, and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture and Ms. Debbie Rix for this Advanced Readers Copy of "The Secret Letter"

Publishing July 22, 2019
Historical Fiction 

Inspired by a true story, this is the exciting and heartwrenching tale of two young girls as they come of age during WWII. 

We first meet "Magda", a farmers daughter growing up in the German Countryside. Her brother is away studying at University in England and by letter tells Magda the truth of what Herr Hitler and his campaign is actually doing. Magda, was forced to join the "Young Maidens", an aryan women's group and she begins to question and then rebel against Hitler and the new regime. Putting herself and her family at risk, she fights for what she believes is right amidst the inconceivable inhumanity of what is happening around her in Germany.

"Imogen" is a young girl growing up in Newcastle England. She dreams of going to university to study Engineering. However the war has a different path instore for Imogen. First sent off to "The safer English Countryside", she struggles with being away from her family and life she knows in the city. She returns a little older and so much wiser and decides to complete one year of university and then enlist as a Wren.

Full of twists and obsessions, secrets and lies; the story takes us on a journey of first loves, broken hearts and what it means to be strong when the world is in chaos. 
4 stars
Was this review helpful?
A beautifully written book. I was hooked from the first page. It was a  true page-turner. This is a really great book club read. So much to talk about and digest. The detail, the character development, the plot-- it's all there in the book. the author hit a true home run with this one. It will tug at your heart and stay with you which is the mark of a great book. 5 stars --a 2019 must-read.
Was this review helpful?
I've read a lot of WWII fiction, and I especially enjoy books where I learn something new that I had previously not known about that era.  It was interesting to learn about the German resistance and the English women war efforts, but overall, this book fell a little short to me. I found the two primary characters a little underdeveloped and immature (even considering their respective ages).

I enjoyed this book, but it wouldn't be my first recommendation for a WWII book.
Was this review helpful?
A World War Two historical fiction set in Germany and England in the 1940’s. It is about two young girls and their life during World War two. Magda is a young girl who lives on a farm near a small village near Augsburg in Germany. She misses her older brother Karl who went to England before the war to attend Oxford University. 
Karl sends a letter to Magda and tells her about the coming war and resistance fighters. He tells Magda to destroy the letter. Instead she keeps it and potentially puts her family in danger. Magda and her school friends are encouraged to be involved in a German Girls’ League.
In England Imogen and her best friend and other children, are sent away from their homes and families in Newcastle to Keswick, a small village in the Lake District.
The novel switches back and forward to Imogen and Magda as the war progresses. Imogen and her friends miss their families but are safe as they grow up and plan how they will contribute to the war effort.
Magda struggles to keep away from danger during the war, she has dangerous friends and tries to help wounded airmen and is constantly at risk of being discovered. This is about families, friendships, WW2 and secrets.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley for an early copy in return for an honest review
A very good read and one I can highly recommend to others. 
I could not put this down.
Thoroughly enjoyable with an amazing cast of characters that you cannot help but engage with.
Was this review helpful?