The Secret Letter

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

I received an advanced e-copy of The Secret Letter by Debbie Rix from NetGalley.  This story was beautifully written and hooked me immediately.  The story features two girls - one in England and another in Germany during World War II.  Their two stories are interwoven even though they have never met each other.  They each experience hardships and unjust treatment of others during the war.  I was enthralled with the story all the way to the end and stayed up too late reading, but it was worth it!
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The Secret Letter poses these questions- Are morals innately defined by organic character or predominately influenced by the setting of anthropology? Does everyone retain some secrecy behind their own veil of security? Do familial ties remain constitutional if bartering with infringement? 
The experiences and journey of Magda and Imogen are refreshing and genuine, rather than romanticized. The story is not always ideal for the character, and likewise the character is not always faultless. This story range focuses on identifying the connection between the two main characters, Magda and Imogen, following the modern historical fiction trend.  Yet, the association between the two girls is intriguing from the beginning and stays constantly alluring throughout the entirety of the novel; and, once discovered, their particular connection is one that is different from other novels. Although this story does alternate chapters between two characters like most historical fiction, the pattern and exploration for determining the girls relationship was admirably unconventional and enjoyable.
I found the dialogue between the girls and their mothers  especially palpable. The mother-daughter relationships were carefully crafted and conscientiously instrumental throughout the story. 
The inclusion of the radio broadcasts, leaflet prints, speeches, and newspapers clippings added to the authenticity of the story. Some works of historical fiction do not include the excerpt from these texts, but this novel actually incorporated the dictation from primary sources. Furthermore, it was exceptional how the story depended on these authentic texts to establish the chapters.
I appreciated how the prose of Imogen during her time as a Wren did not transform into an entire address on women's suffrage. The reader did experience the injustice of equality during the time period through Imogen, but it was uplifting that she was not paralyzed by this notion in order to foster her success.
This story incorporates the resistance of The White Rose group. I have read about The White Rose in other works of fiction regarding the same topics, so I wasn't as enthusiastic for this portion of the novel. I found the age of the surviving characters questionable at the end. However, this was not prevalent enough to take off a star.
Permitted these being available, I thought it would have been neat to include a photo of her mother in her Wren uniform and a photo of her father in his RAF uniform. And even more interesting, possibly, a photocopy of one or two of the notes/diary her father kept in boots.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Debbie Rix, and Bookouture for the opportunity to read and review this advanced copy.
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An absolutely beautiful historical fiction on WW2.

You go through the war from the perspective of Imogen - a British school girl quickly becoming a young woman, and Magda - a German school girl quickly finding her role in the war as well.  Both of these women are brave beyond their years and I loved their dedication to a moral duty.  This really stayed true to the emotions of the war.  We see Imogen and Magda fall in love and make some heart-wrenching decisions for love.  It was a really beautiful tribute to the women of the war and to the men in their lives.

I don't know how else to review this without spoilers other than to say that it was so beautifully written, and it really moved me.  I felt so invested in ensuring these 2 women got the best life after all they had been through even though I had no control over it.  WW2 is a shocking part of human history but I love WW2 historical fictions - especially those based on true events like this one - that remind us of the stories of the normal, real people caught in the crossfire of such a terrible event.  I'm so glad they were so good at recording their life stories and for authors who bring them to life.  A marvelous, marvelous read!
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Fans of historical fiction, featuring strong female characters will fall madly in love with the intertwining stories of Magda and Imogen. It's rare to think of the struggles and work performed by women during a war, but women were just as much a part of the war as the men were; from holding down the homes, secret operations, and even actual work, like being a part of the Wrens, as Imogen was.  

This story was one that allowed us to see the girls through their teen years and beyond. We got to know each girl before and during the war, seeing how their lives were shaped and changed by those things surrounding them and how they both fought, in their own way, for freedom from Hitler's power. 

While Imogen was a character that I strongly disliked through a good portion of the book, she did pull me in at times. I found myself enjoying her and then loathing her. She seemed mean spirited at times towards those around her, although I'm sure many will read her words and not see it that way at all. I hated how things would seem to be going to so well for her, boy wise, especially, and then she would just drop them! Ugh. But, I found myself rooting for her once again towards the end.

However, the real gems in this story were that of Magda and Michael. I could have had an entire book written on just those two. I loved Magda's chapters and found myself wanting more of her. She's the character that stuck out the most to me and will be the one I won't possibly be able to forget, even if Imogen's story did teach me things about the time period that I didn't know. Like, for example, that women still needed their parent's permission to do things like go to France for their jobs if they weren't yet 18!  Yet, it was the heartfelt love story between Magda and Michael that truly got me, as well as Magda's struggles with Otto. They were so real and relatable, even though they truly aren't relatable. You couldn't help but feel for Magda throughout it all. No matter what life tossed her way, more always seemed to come. Yet, she never gave up hope and made the best of it. 

While reading this, it reminded me of The Beantown Girls and their time in the castles while abroad, much like how Imogen had to spend time beside a chateau in France. Both books mentioned burning furniture to stay warm and showed how difficult it was for these ladies to be away from home and so close to the front lines. 

Stories like these need to be told so that they're never forgotten. War is a terrible thing, yet people tend to forget about just how harsh it truly can be as time moves on. But, they also need to be told so that all of the heroes within the war can be remembered, not just those who fought in the typical way that comes to mind when we think of war. Every person plays a vital role in the war, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem at the time.
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This historical fiction novel portrays a refreshing perspective on the lives of two girls from vastly different backgrounds - and opposing sides of the war - who transform into women during the backdrop of World War II. Imogen grows up in a middle class English family and chooses to "do her part' for the war, leaving her university studies to become a Wren for the Allies.  Magda is a farm girl raised in the German countryside where joining the Hitler Youth is expected of the teens in her community.  Fierce bravery and independence are qualities shared by Imogen and Magda whose lives intersect throughout the war but who don't ultimately meet and realize their shared ties until decades later.  Many historical details are presented that I found especially enlightening and touching, including the White Rose German Resistance as well the bravery showed by the women who served the Allies in groups like the Wrens. I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret Letter and highly recommend it for those who enjoy a blend of women's fiction and WW II historical fiction - this novel has it all! 
Thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Two girls, one thirteen, the other fifteen, in Germany and one in England make up the core of this historical novel about WWII.  Magda lives on a farm in Germany, and she has a happy life with her parents and her brother Karl.  In 1939, things began to change, and her brother decides to go to continue his studies at Oxford.  Magda is expected to join the German Girls League, and she hates every aspect of it starting with the ugly uniforms on up to the nasty leader.

Imogen is from Leeds and also has a loving family, but they insist that she go to the Lakes District for the duration of the war.  At first, she boards with a family, along with her two best friends from Leeds, Joy, and Helen.  They like the family she and Helen are assigned to live with for the first year.  Imogen leaves behind the guy she thinks she loves, Freddie.

As this novel moves forward and each girl faces hardship, loneliness, and fear, the war becomes more ferocious.  This well-written novel gave me an insightful look at life for young women who did not fight but took on the dangers, each in her way. We know the ending of the war, but this novel gave me so much more detail. I cannot recommend his more highly.  Do find time to read this book!

Thank you, Debbie Rix, Bookouture, and NetGalley for allowing me to read this ARC (July 22).
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4.5 rating
What a beautiful book. This is a moving story which tells of two smart and brave girls whose lives are drastically impacted by WWII. Magda, living on a farm in Germany, discovers at an early age that the propaganda of the Nazis is not to be believed and Imogen is evacuated from her home in England to protect her while those she loves are left in harms way. As the war progresses, each young woman does her part to further the causes they believe in. The book begins with a letter explaining how the lives of the two women are connected and we are then treated to their incredible journeys. This book was hard to put down. I’ve read countless WWII historical fiction and this one has its own interesting perspective which adds to its appeal. Many thanks to NetGalley, Bookouture, and Debbie Rix for the ARC.
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Thank you to the publisher and author for providing me with a digital ARC of this title via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. 

When I saw this advertised for those who loved the Orphan Train and the Book Thief, I was immediately interested. I loved both books and am usually a fan of historical fiction set during World War II. While it doesn't match the two books its compared with, I must say it isn't far behind, especially as it is based on a true story. I liked the dual narratives telling the story of two young women during the war, one in Germany and one in England. You really get a feel of what life was like for citizens during the war, the fear and horrors of war. For one, the fear of leaving your family along with other children and youth to live in the country with strangers. For the other, the fear of staying on your family farm to help support the family while quietly doling all you can to stand up against your own country when you disagree with what is being done. Both fearful of losing friends and family from the war. The Secret Letter is well written and quickly drew me in. I like how the two narratives begin to intertwine as the book progresses. A horrific time, but inspiring to see the courage, faith, and hope shown by so many. I would love to read more by this author and would recommend this to anyone who shares an interest in World War II historical fiction.
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The Secret Letter is a book about two young girls who grow up during WWII, which if you know anything about me, you know I'm gonna obsess over it. A lot. And then jump on the opportunity to read it. 
This book basically follows Magda, a young German girl on a little farm in a tiny village near Augsburg, and Imogen (or Ginny), a young English girl who is first moved to school in the middle of nowhere to keep the children safe and then pursues a career as a Wren for the British Army. Their paths intertwine in the most unexpected ways. The story is apparently based on Rix's own grandparents which might be why these characters feel so real.
This is not my first WWII book. It's not even my first WWII book this year. But the fact that it's written from the POV of two young girls drew me in. I then fell in love with the fact that these characters provide very different insights into the war than most WWII books as none of these girls are Jewish or persecuted. 
Personally, I quite enjoyed Imogen's stubbornness and particularly the letters to her parents, which go from a description of how everyone around her is handling war to asking for new shoes in the next line. She is a bit ditzy sometimes, especially when around her friends or some particularly striking boys/young men. But she is still strong and clever and dedicated. Then, there's Magda, who could keep her head down and just ignore what's happening around her so she can remain safe. It's definitely what her parents would like. But her friend Lotte was forcefully removed from her home for being Jewish and her brother Karl keeps telling her, the government is not right and then she doesn't feel like German girls should only be considered as possible 'broodmares' for perfect Aryan children. So, why shouldn't she help where she can, be it with The White Rose or Michael or even Freddy? 
I truly appreciated this more than I expected simply for being so different from the other books I'd read on this subject. No, I don't care how much of it is actually based on the truth and how much is embellished because the result is a beautiful tale of children who should have been okay, but were forced to grow up considerably faster than usual because some people decided they needed to act on their horrible xenophobic tendencies.
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I found it to be somewhat syrupy sweet at points, but it's a nostalgic kind of classic read. The kind of book a young reader would enjoy, as well as an older person with connections to the time period.
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Imogen and Magda don't know each other. They are as different as they can be from each other. One comes from wealth with a desire to go to university to become an architect. One lives and works on her parents farm. 
As with any war. Lives will become entwined. People will meet and know each other without really knowing each other. Some fight on the part of Germany others for the allies. 
Their paths do cross, many, many years later. Ar the end of the day. No matter what side your allegiance was to, all people want is peace. To live together without animosity. These women will meet, both with different views to the same story.
Wonderful, strong, interesting characters. Incredible story.
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A different insight about WWII and how it affected the people.
A good interesting , intriguing story about the women during the war.
voluntarily reviewed,
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An interesting and engrossing story set in world war two. A look at the circumstances from both sides,with a woman's role taking the main focus.
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The story started well, with interesting characters especially the portion of the story that took place in Germany but towards the end became sort of unbelievable and trite. Nevertheless a good summer read.
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A fabulous true story of WWII.  Two women who are in different countries helping those who arena uttering in the war.  They have family members and military member contacts, u knowingly.  Their lives are parallel min many ways.  I learned a lot as one was living in Germany and the other in Lomdon and Paris.  They had to be secretive so it kept you reading to see what would happen  next.  A different WWII story style.  Worth the read.  The two main characters were Imogen and Magda and they had different types of lives vutmsrill served their causes in equally important ways.
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I received a free ARC of The Secret Letter from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rix's The Secret Letter represents the time period of historical fiction I normally love - World War II. Even though I am a baby boomer, fiction about this time period depict people I could have known, experiences that could have rippled through my life, and ramifications that definitely impacted my childhood. This novel, however, is a little too similar to others I have read. 

Magda Maier, a young German girl, is passionate and compassionate. She and her family, especially her brother, are alarmed at the rise of Nazism and its impact on their neighbors and way of life. She knows it is wrong and during the war will risk her life to uphold her beliefs. The family's day-to-day existence is not as severely impacted as one might expect since their farm is self-sufficient and there is always food. When Magda finds a downed British airman, she and her family hide him as her heals.

In England, Ginny is also ready to leave her protected life behind. First as a young girl, she is forced to evacuate along with her schoolmates to the north of England. Her independent and daring streak begins to appear. She wants to study engineering but because of her gender is unable to do so.. Instead she turns to architecture and studies for a year before she national service in the Wrens. There she serves as a plotter and comes into fleeting contact with the political and military powers of the time. Her new independence is something she is unwilling to give up.

Both young women experience first loves, new emotions, and disappointment. It is nice to read a novel where women demonstrate bravery, hard work, and ethical behavior in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. #NetGalley #TheSecretLetter
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This book was positively wonderful. It was, for me, a rather fresh perspective of WW2. I loved Magda and Imogen. Karl and all of Magda’s family. Joy and the Ltimers and Freddie we so well fleshed our. The writing was good, the plot was solid, the antagonists frustrating, and in the end to find out that bits where based on the authors own parents was a lovey surprise. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys ww2 fiction. It really was most enjoyable. I also found it was nice to read a WW2 story with a happy ending.
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Well researched WWII novel telling the different sides of the war.  The story was entertaining in a sad way and I liked the ending.
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This was a beautifully written story about two brave young girls in WWII. The author takes you back and forth between their two stories. Imogene is from England and Magda is from Germany. It was interesting to see the different perspectives of each girls situation as they both found their own way to help with the war. You really feel for these girls as they deal with all the heavy aspects of war. It was an enjoyable read and I would recommend this to my friends. Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This was a beautifully written book about the lives, fears, loves and bravery of people during WWII.
The book goes back and forth between, two young women, Magda in Germany and Imogen, in England, and the connections they have throughout the story. 
It also follows the people close to them in both places, and shows how a lot of times their thoughts and actions are more similar than not.
This book was fun as it had a different take on the war and the characters through out  were so interesting to figure out and follow.
The author drew some of the characters from her own families experiences during the war.
The author has a wonderful writing style and I am now very interesting  in reading more of her books. This is a well worth read. 
I would like to thank NetGalley  and Bookouture for the Arc of this book.
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