The Secret Letter

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

4 strong stars

There are so many book title buzzwords these days that tend to make me immediately pass over the book. Examples include “Girl”, “Lies”, “Dead”, “Killer”, “Sister”, etc. You know what I mean. “Secrets” is another word that tends to make me look the other way. BUT, any titles using the words “Letter” or “Diary” always get a look. I don’t know why, but those words shoot my curiosity straight up! It was the title of this book that drew me; the colorful and intriguing cover (despite my normal dislike of the backwards girls in the red coats motif) was then enough to push me over the edge and hit that green Net Galley button. Was I rewarded? Yes, indeed I was!

This year I have really solidly connected with historical fiction. My new interest in this genre has really destroyed my TBR list, but it’s definitely been worth it. The Secret Letter is another in a long string of winning stories that have taken my heart this year.

This tale has two side by side storylines covering 1939-1951, with a final leap to 2019, that eventually merge—this fact we infer from the intriguing prologue. The vast majority of the narrative takes place during WWII. Our protagonists are farm girl Magna who lives in the German countryside and city girl Imogene who is British. I love that both sides of the war are represented in this manner, though Magna is sympathetic to the other side. The themes that course through the novel include one of my very favorites - the grace of humanity, which can appear even during times of battle.  This theme was well explored in the book and made a real impression on me. Learning points include interesting war positions and career opportunities for intelligent British women, the system of evacuations and billeting of British school children out of the cities, the presence of resistance fighters in Germany, and the treatment of Christmas during the war years in Germany. 

The two protagonists are well characterized and highly likeable, especially Magna. There are also a number of interesting, generally well written side characters. There is a bit of romance that for the most part takes a backseat to the rest of the story. That’s not a bad thing, but I did wish we had a little more substance to those relationships to make me cheer even more for them to succeed. There are also a couple of coincidences that seem a little convenient. These are minor criticisms but are the reason for the lost star. I loved, loved, loved the prologue and the last chapter set in 2019 and how many questions that arose during the story are tied up by the end. There are also some really tense moments during this read that add a layer of suspense.

In the author’s note at the end, Ms. Rix tells us that the novel is based on her parents’ real wartime experiences. Her parents’ letters, diaries and her father’s RAF log books were used to develop the story. I love this fact about the book.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret Letter and recommend it for those looking for a good wartime storyline. 

Many thanks to Net Galley, Bookouture, and Debbie Rix for an ARC of this novel. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the read of Debbie Rix’s, The Secret Letter.

Told in the same timeline: 1939 WWII from the perspectives of two young girls, The Secret Letter captivates the reader from the very beginning. 

Germany: Magda, young, brave, determined, she resolves she must not be silent. She hates what has happened to her world and despising the Hitler Youth, decides to rebel. 

England: Imogen is taken to safety; away from the war that is devastating Europe, but she cannot stand by as others bravely act out against the enemy. 

Both young women, credible, strong-willed, courageous and making a difference – making history. 

The Secret Letter enthralled me from the start. I had a hard time putting this one down. Making it even more moving is that author Debbie Rix based the story on the experiences of her parents, engaging you through emotions, and appealing to your soul. 

I highly recommend this wonderful historical fiction read that will capture the heart of anyone who reads it. 

The opinions expressed in my reviews are my very own.
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Debbie Rix has written a hard-hitting emotional tale about how World War II affected the lives of two young women, one in Germany and one in England. Although hundreds of miles away, Imogen and Magda were both severely affected by the war. As a matter of fact, they had very similar views, although it was hardly likely that the two girls would ever meet.

For Magda, living in Germany, as a thirteen-year-old teen was not easy. Magda was completely devastated after witnessing her best friend Lotte and her family being snatched away and forced into a concentration camp. This made it impossible for Magda to ever understand the strong political leanings when thousands of young people were being forced to accept Hitler's views. Magda has her own mind about matters, even at risk to herself and her family. When a boy Magda grew up with, Otto, not only rises high in Hitler's army, while at the same time pursues her romantically, things become increasingly difficult for her.

Imogen is fifteen-years-old and living in the country in England when the war begins. She witnesses many tragic and difficult things, including witnessing bombs being dropped. Writing letters to those she loves is as much as she can do to show how she feels about things. Little does she know that a young German girl would one day affect her very life.

I have read a lot of historical fiction over the past year, but this book certainly hit me the hardest. For example, I knew about the bombings that occurred, but in this story the devastation was so very hard hitting for both Imogen and Magda. Tears flowed freely while reading of some of these occurrences. Also, with the situation involving Magda's brother Karl, as well as her helping those in great need was done very well, and showed her incredible resilience.

I really felt for Imogen as her very future lied in the hands of others, and this included her heart's desire. She may not have had the same experiences as Magda, but her story was equally compelling. I savored this story and all that these girls went through. I cried happy tears at the ending because it was something that I kept hoping for the entire time I was reading this book.

This is my second read by Debbie Rix and I had a similar experience when I read The Photograph by her. She is a fantastic author who knows just how to pull the heartstrings with the wonderful ability to connect readers to her characters.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Imogen:  Of the two main characters Imogen was my least favorite. The one thing that I did not about Imogen’s storyline was that it reminded me of the Chronicles of Narnia with the children being sent away to the countryside to keep them safe from the war. But, Imogen refused to see what was going on in front of her and steadfastly held onto her innocence and naivete. She lives with a nice couple in the countryside where she courts a boy and makes friends. She is then still looking for love with Freddie an RAF pilot and goes onto college. Her life doesn’t change all that much and she still gets to see it through. 

Magda: Magda, on the other hand, has her whole life turned upside down. Being that she lives out in the countryside you would think that she would be less affected. But Magda’s best friend Lotte and her family are run out of town; she is forced to join the Women’s League in support of the Nazis and Hitler and is blackmailed and molested by a young officer. 
Magda is smart enough and aware from the beginning that the Nazis are not to be believed or trusted. 

This book showcases so many of the horrors and atrocities that occurred during WW2.  We get to see how these two young girls manage to live and survive during this horrible time. This book encompasses so many of the different aspects of WW2 from the bombings of London, to the evacuation of children, the indoctrination of young German youth, the events at Dunkirk and so much more. 

My opinion: I have read several historical fictions lately and most of them having to do with WW2 and the Holocaust. This one holds up well in comparison to the others. 

Would I recommend? 
I would recommend this book I will definitely be looking out for more from this author.
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Thanks to Netgalley for the advanced copy...

Oh wow! What a beautiful heartfelt story I ever read...I loved the beautiful cover and it’s perfect!

Looking forward to read more book from this author soon...
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A WWII historical fiction set in Germany and England   Told in alternating points of view from Magda and Imogene.  This story shows how two young girls fought behind the war for what is good and noble in people and how their lives intertwined.  Beautifully written.  Characters are thoughtful and well developed.  Magda and Imogene will stay with me for a long time.
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A coming of age story set during the turbulent years of World War 2 , The Secret Letter is my first encounter with the writing of Debbie Rix, but it certainly will not be my last. In a crowded genre this book stood out because of the two main characters, whose lives we follow over the course of the war and beyond. 
In England fifteen year old Imogen is evacuated to the Lake District to finish her schooling away from the bombings that threaten the cities every night. While she is lucky to be staying with a nice family, she misses hers, and also the very handsome and charming neighbour,Freddie, who has certainly caught her eye. Sheltered from the worst of the war she eventually joins the service as a WREN and soon finds herself at the heart of the Allied invasion at Normandy, while juggling her feelings for two very different young men. 
Meanwhile in Germany we are introduced to thirteen year old Magda, whose brother is away at university in England when war breaks out. In his letters home he manages to reveal some shocking truths that take the shine off the German propaganda the family is surrounded by, and this ,along with the loss of her Jewish friend spurs Magda into working for the German resistance. As if that is not dangerous enough she also comes face to face with  a downed RAF pilot and must choose whether to risk her whole family's safety in order to help him
The motif of letters runs throughout the book, from the letter at the very beginning which introduces us to the connection between these two women, to the letters from Imogen to her parents describing life in England during the war to the titular letter from Magda's brother that almost spells tragedy . It is a clever idea and is well executed . The characters are both well drawn and believable, though I did find myself more drawn to Magda's story as the story of the White Rose resistance group is something I had not encountered before. The book has several emotional highs and lows, and definitely held my interest , I would highly recommend it to any fans of WWII era historical fiction with strong female characters. 
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this novel that wove together the stories of Magda a young girl living on a farm in Germany and Imogen who was sent by her parents to live in the countryside of England during the war.
The story starts with a letter in present day and then takes you back to the years of the war to tell the story of how their two worlds collide. 

Magda lives on a farm with her parents. Very early on Magda realizes that her view on things is quite different from what the “Young Maidens” are taught about racial purity and the like. Receiving  a letter from her brother makes her question everything that is happening in Germany too. She embarks on a path to find out what is really happening in the war and is determined to make a difference.

Imogen spends her days going to school in the countryside away from her family and the devastation the war is causing in the city.  After studying for a year at university to become an architect Imogen’s life changes forever as she joins the forces to do her bit.

Would definitely recommend this read!

Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for the advanced copy.
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I couldn’t put this book down once I had started. Flipping back and forth between 2 young girls lives - one in Germany and the other in the UK. 
I have never read any of this authors books but will certainly look out for them
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The Secret Letter is a story that alternates between Magda and Imogen mainly over the course of the second world war.

By finding out more about Magda and Imogen, we get to see what things were like for people in Germany and England. From the time leading up to the war starting, as well as during, and to the final days of it ending. It was really interesting to see what life was like for both of them and their families.

I read this book on holiday and was so gripped by the authors story telling that apart from taking a quick two minute dip in the pool to cool down every hour or so, I was straight back on to my sun lounger with Kindle in hand.

Magda and Imogen both have quite different lifestyles and both do quite a lot in the war movement. I loved the strength of both characters as they are strong minded and know what they want from life. Whilst there is romance in the story this story is so much more than that. It reminds us of a time that we all should never forget and learn from.

The Secret Letter is a beautifully written story that captivated my mind and heart. In parts it was emotional at what people had to live through as well as an horrific reminder of what some people did to fellow humans. The ending was particularly emotional as I felt a whole array of emotions of happiness and sadness. A perfect historical fiction novel that fans of this genre are going to love.
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Terrific and emotional coming of age story set during WWII.  Fans know there are a lot of books out there right now in this genre but Ria has hit a sweet spot with the stories of Magda and Imogen (Ginny).  Moving between Germany and the UK, this tells the tale of how both young women pulled themselves up to fight the Nazis, Magda locally and Ginny as, ultimately, a WREN.  Rix has folded in snippets of real materials, such as speeches, which is an excellent device.  Neither young woman is perfect- they both have their foibles- which make them so realistic.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  Rix is an excellent storyteller and this was an excellent read.
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Dual perspective WWII novels are super popular right now, but this one is a standout. I loved that they were not only existing in the same timeline but how their stories were interwoven throughout the book. It was expertly and thoughtfully written. Even better is that the author based her characters on real people - her parents - and their actual experiences. I loved being able to witness such vastly different experiences and perspectives of the war. And there was so much  depth of character and strength of the women (and men) portrayed. I love that there was more to the girls than finding a husband to settle down with. I also learned something new in reading this, as I had no idea how the Nazis "replaced" Christmas traditions and how they deified Hitler to the point of prayer. Fascinating and terrifying how someone can have such a hold on people. 

I'm a MASSIVE fan of historical fiction, especially WWII stories. This is a great addition to the genre!
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This heart breakingly beautiful book book made me miss my mum, who passed away over 4 years ago.  Mum was a great reader, like me, but our taste in books was quite different.  However, I am sure she would have loved this book as much as I did.  Mum was a WREN, and as I read these pages, I really wanted to talk to her about her experiences, and our thoughts on this book - something that has never happened before.  

This is a really special book, which draws us into the worlds of two young girls during WWII, one German, one English, and explores how their lives change when WWII explodes on the world.  Prior to this I knew quite a bit about what it was like in England during WWII, but I don't think I have heard much about what it was like for the ordinary German families - or even more so, for those in the resistance - this book opened my eyes.  

The stories of Magda and Imogen are sensitively and beautifully written, their characters fully developed and explored, the traumas and turmoil they go through handled deftly and sensitively.  When we meet them they are normal young girls, in quite different situations, but as we watch them try to survive what WWII has thrown at them, I was moved by the fortitude, courage and compassion both girls showed..  The romantic aspects of the story, the heartaches and the joys, were handled perfectly and the author makes them both believable and realistic.  The supporting cast of characters were also very well written, and again, totally realistic.  The descriptions of the settings made me feel I was actually there, and I found the developing links between the girls very satisfying.

I loved both Imogen and Magda, felt to my core every moment of the highs and lows of their lives, and feel quite bereft now the book is over and they are gone, they are so real to me.   I am actually struggling to put into words my feelings about this book, and know I will spend forever editing this review, trying to get the words right, so I am going to just finish it now and say simply that this is a book which will remain with me for a long time, if not forever, and it has been a privilege to read it.  And I miss my mum.

This book is released on 22 July.  Thank you to Debbie Rix, Bookouture and Netgalley for the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy.  However, this review is an honest and unbiased reflection on my own thoughts on reading this book.
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This is another WWII Historical Fiction book that I would love to give more than 5 stars to.  I really enjoyed this book that I read in 2 days' time.  It is a story that goes back and forth between the lives of Imogene, a teen in England, and Magda, a teen farm girl in Germany.  The story follows them through the war with their growing up and learning to cope with the horrors of war, meeting people and not knowing who to trust, and the men in their lives.  It is heartbreaking at times and is such an overall great read.   Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the ARC of this fantastic book that I devoured in record time, because it was such a page turner, in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to net galley for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

I was a little bit disappointed with this one. I did prefer the second half to the first but I found it a little bit slow in places and it didn’t hold my interest. Not sure I’d be interested in reading any other books by this author unfortunately, sorry.
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Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

If it hadn't been for the beautiful reviews I had read here on Goodreads, this WWII story would have slipped right through my fingers. Alternating between Germany and England, I quickly became engrossed in Magda and Imogen's storylines.  The Secret Letter is a coming of age story during a time when these two countries were torn apart by war. Debbie Rix weaves into the tale the Hitler Youth, The White Rose, the evacuation of British children to the countryside, and other war related activities. It results in a captivating story that makes it a nominee for best WWII book of 2019

As much as I enjoyed the two protagonists, I wasn't a huge fan of Magda's mother. It seemed as the story and the war progressed, she became even more incredibly naive and well, just plain stupid. Other than, I have only praise for this book!

Goodreads Review 09/07/19
Expected Publication 22/07/19
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I don’t normally read historical fiction but boy am I glad I read this. Read in one setting this is a brilliant captivating read. Set from 1939 to 2019, two girls, one English one German and one World War. Their childhood’s, adulthood’s, their loves, their lives, their wars. Beautifully written. All the way through I kept thinking what a great film it would make. A book that will linger long after the last page.
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5 stars for The Secret Letter! I’ll admit that I’m a huge fan of World War II novels; when I found out that The Secret Letter was inspired by true events, I simply had to read it.  The writing is spectacular, and I think it would be an excellent book club selection.  This novel is about heroism under the most difficult of circumstances and the heroes are many.  

Imogene is evacuated to the English countryside with several fellow students in hopes of protecting them from the war.  Imogene postpones her plans of becoming an architect joining the war effort as a WREN, moving up the ranks to assist in the Allied invasion of Germany.

Magda is growing up in a small village in Germany, as she learns to navigate in the very changed world around her as her Jewish friends disappear.  She endeavors to maintain a constant façade of supporting the Nazi party that she abhors while participating in the resistance movement.   

The novel depicts how the war impacted each of these women and their families but also the impact that they made on the war effort.  There is romance, intrigue and a weaving of these two lives into one riveting ending. 

I received an advance copy of this book.  All opinions are my own.
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I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.   Thank you NetGalley.

The Secret Letter is a historical fiction set in the WWII - era.       This book was absolutely beautiful.      I'm not normally a fan of historical books, but I learned so much from this book.   I will be reading more by Debbie Rix.
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Thanks to netgalley for an early copy in return for an honest review 
First time reading this Author and thoroughly enjoyed this book 
Set in war time 2 very strong women characters  seeing the  story from 2 very different  perspectives  intriguing  read that held  my attention  can highly recommend.
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