Cover Image: The Secret Letter

The Secret Letter

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

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.
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoy WWII-era stories, so I was looking forward to this book, and it didn’t disappoint. Characters and storylines are well-developed and realistic. The two lead heroines (Imogen and Magda) are strong and determined, and they want to make a difference during the war. The prose is beautiful, but heartbreaking at times. The story allows the reader to see things from two perspectives: the British (Imogen) and the Germans (Magda). The plot unfolds over a period of years (1939-1950s), and the author holds the reader’s attention throughout. This historical novel is based on actual events. It’s apparent that Rix did a lot of research for this story.
Was this review helpful?
A fascinating and interesting read. This book is beautifully written and had me in tears in places. Magda and Imogen’s stories are thought provoking and moving. I learnt more about World War 2 and different peoples attitudes. This book will stay with me for a long time.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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).
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?