The Secret Messenger

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Dec 2019

Member Reviews

In 1944, Venice, Stella is a member of the Venice Resistance Central Brigade, who has taken up a job working in Nazi headquarters to help pass information to the resistance. Working for the enemy, Stella is asked to translate a document that will change her future and cause her to choose between her country or her family.

In 2017, Bristol, Luisa's mother has died, after going through her things Luisa finds artifacts that relate to her grandmother. Not having the best relationship with her own mother, Luisa falls down a spiral of uncovering answers about who she is and the roots of her maternal family.

I really enjoyed this book and even though it is fiction I really learnt a lot about Venice and it's time during World War 2.
I did enjoy reading from Stella's story more than I did Luisa's. I enjoyed getting to know Stella, her thinking and reasons behind her actions. I enjoyed the romance side of the book and felt like it did not take away the main point of the story.

Thank you to NetGalley, Avon, and Mandy Robotham for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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A beautifully written book from the author of 'The German Midwife', This time the author uses Venice 1943 as the setting for the story of  Stella Jilani a young member of the Resistance, but who also works as a typist in the local Nazi HQ.

There is also a dual timeline with Bristol 2017, when Stella's grandmother - Luisa Belmont finds an old typewriter in an attic and sets out to trace the owner/story behind it

Anyway, back to Stella in Venice which, to be frank, were the most interesting and exciting parts of the book. Sometimes I skimmed past Luisa's story. Little bits of romance, trust and plenty of risk taking gave me a most satisfactory read.

The author is obviously a huge Venice fan with wonderful descriptions of the city where Stella runs errands etc. I work with a girl who is married to an Italian and Venice has to be visited at different times of the year - which the author evokes brilliantly.

With the Luisa 'bits' rather unnecessary, I can only give the book 4 stars. 

Thanks to Net Galley and Avon Books for the chance to read and review.
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This was a very good historical set in Italy.  I loved Stella.  I have always loved WW2 stories.  The duel timelines made it interesting although I preferred Stella's story.  I would recommend it to everyone who loves historical fiction.
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Set in two time periods, modern day and wartime Italy, I adored this book. I just didn’t want it to end but at the same time needed to know how the story ended. It’s a very beautiful story about family, love, history, danger and bravery. It’s a read again and again for me,

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the ARC in return for an honest and unbiased opinion.
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The Secret Messenger by Mandy Robotham is a dual timeline novel set in Venice during WWII. Stella worked as a typist for the Nazi regime but after hours she worked for the Resistence, producing an underground newspaper. The typewriter has a distinguishing feature and the Nazis are hunting for the typewriter that was used. The second time period takes place in 2017 when Luisa’s mother dies and she begins to go through her things. She unearths a trove  of artifacts that relate to her grandmother in her mother’s attic. Luisa seeks to find answers about who she is and the roots of her maternal family.  Having read so many WWII books lately, this one was a bit different as the setting was in Venice.  My thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a story of World War 2vin a different context to those I normally read. It's based on the Italian resistance which is something I wasn't familiar with so found it interesting. But it's also a story of love and survival, interspersed with the up to date story of Luisa discovering her grandmother's Italian roots and then researching everything about her.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more by this author
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The Secret Messenger by Mandy Robotham was intriguing to me as it was set in Venice during World War II. Stella worked as a typist for the Nazi regime. After hours she worked for the Resistence, producing an underground newspaper. The typewriter has a distinguishing feature and the Nazis are hunting for the typewriter used.  Robotham has written a dual-time period story. The second time period takes place in 2017 when Stella found an old typewriter of her grandmother‘s in an attic of her mother’s. Luisa goes on a quest to find out info about the typewriter. For me, I think the book would have been more interesting if the book was just Stella’s story. I received an ARC from NetGalley and Avon in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 stars
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Truly a moving story of the effect WWII had on Venice. I read a lot of war genre novels but this was the first set in Venice and I really enjoyed it.  I will be looking for future books from this author.
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Dramatic and yet full of feeling. Despite being set during the horrors of war or maybe because of that, this story is rich in love, camaraderie and caring.  
I was drawn into this book and the warmth the people of the city shared together in their fight to survive the war.   Interspersed throughout the book we are fast forwarded to the 21st Century where the granddaughter of our wartime heroine is seeking out the truth about her grandmother. Even so, I was always keen to get back to what felt like the real story. 
It’s beautifully written and the ending was not what I had imagined - it was more perfect than that. This book touched me.
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Let's face it: Italy isn't exactly the star of the show in most WWII historical fiction stories, and I don't think I've read a WWII story before set in Venice... Which was probably one of the key reasons I was especially excited to pick up my copy of The Secret Messenger. Now I've had the chance to read The Secret Messenger, I'm not sure what to do with my thoughts. I was fully expecting to love this story, and there were definitely certain elements that managed to provoke that love, but there were also other elements that didn't work all that well for me. In short: surprisingly enough, I ended up having mixed feelings about The Secret Messenger. I'll try to explain why below.

First of all I have to say that the setting in Venice is without doubt the true star of this book. The descriptions are detailed, thorough and really made the magic of the city come alive for me... Both in the present and past. Sadly I haven't been able to visit the city myself just yet, but Mandy Robotham made it feel as if you were right there along with the main characters. Venice is a truly magical city and I loved learning more about its history through the characters of this story. The Secret Messenger uses a dual timeline with two different POVs: Stella in 1943-1944 Venice and Luisa in 2017 UK and later Venice as well. Dual timelines are always tricky to get right, and sadly I don't think this technique worked all that well in this case. I felt the balance of the two different timelines was off; there was a whole lot more of Stella and Luisa's chapters fell mostly flat for me until those final chapters set in Venice. To be honest, I think The Secret Messenger would have been a stronger story if it would have been just Stella's POV, as she is clearly the star of this story and already takes up so much space in the plot to begin with. Luisa's chapters only distracted from the ones set in the past, and to be honest I never really liked her character all that much either.

I also have to say that the pace was considerably slow during most of the story, only picking up towards the ending as things are getting more intense especially in Stella's chapters. This slow pace made it harder to stay invested in the story and it took me a lot longer than usual to finally reach that final page... And it mostly thanks to Stella, the Venice setting and its fantastic descriptions and history that I decided to keep on reading. The whole story of the war in Venice and how the resistance tried to do their thing was fascinating, and I truly wish the sole focus would have been on Stella and her story. Luisa didn't really add much to the plot for me other than slowing down the pace considerably and I don't think her character was fleshed out enough to be a true asset to the story.

In short, there were things I loved in The Secret Messenger, including the WWII setting in Venice, its history and the story of the resistance and Stella's story as a whole. There were also things that didn't work for me, incluiding the slow pace during most of the story, the dual timeline and Luisa's POV in general. As a result, I ended up having mixed thoughts about The Secret Messenger despite the fact that this story should have been a perfect fit, but fans of the genre should definitely give it a go as most people seem to react a lot better to the elements that didn't work for me personally. I guess it was unpopular opinion time once again?
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'𝒘𝒂𝒓 𝒉𝒂𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒆𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒄𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒊𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒎𝒐𝒔𝒕 𝒔𝒕𝒖𝒏𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒐𝒇 𝑴𝒆𝒅𝒊𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒓𝒂𝒏𝒆𝒂𝒏 𝒔𝒖𝒏𝒔𝒆𝒕𝒔.'⁣ ⁣ ⁣
🗞🗞🗞🗞🗞🗞🗞⁣ ⁣
𝑯𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒚 𝒓𝒆𝒍𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒆 𝒅𝒂𝒚 𝒕𝒐 @𝒓𝒐𝒃𝒐𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒎𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒅𝒚 𝒂𝒏𝒅 @𝒂𝒗𝒐𝒏_𝒃𝒐𝒐𝒌𝒔 .⁣ 𝑻𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒌 𝒚𝒐𝒖 @𝒏𝒆𝒕𝒈𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒆𝒚 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒂𝒏 𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒍𝒚 𝒄𝒐𝒑𝒚 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒘𝒐𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒓𝒇𝒖𝒍 𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒚! 𝑰 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒌 𝒊𝒕'𝒔 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒎𝒚 𝒎𝒐𝒔𝒕 𝒇𝒂𝒗𝒐𝒓𝒊𝒕𝒆 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒊𝒕 𝒘𝒊𝒍𝒍 𝒃𝒆 𝒕𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒖𝒓𝒆𝒅 𝒊𝒏 𝒎𝒚 𝒎𝒐𝒔𝒕 𝒑𝒓𝒆𝒄𝒊𝒐𝒖𝒔 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒍𝒊𝒔𝒕. ⁣ ⁣⁣
 𝑰𝒕'𝒔 𝒂 𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒚 𝒐𝒇 1943 𝑽𝒆𝒏𝒊𝒄𝒆. 𝑯𝒐𝒘 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒘𝒂𝒓 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑵𝒂𝒛𝒊𝒔 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒖𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒅𝒆𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒐𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒂𝒖𝒕𝒚 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒔𝒑𝒊𝒓𝒊𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝑽𝒆𝒏𝒆𝒕𝒊𝒂𝒏𝒔. 𝑾𝒆 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒉𝒐𝒘 𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒍𝒊𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒆 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒂𝒍𝒘𝒂𝒚𝒔 𝒂𝒍𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒉𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒚. 𝑰𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒃𝒐𝒐𝒌 𝒘𝒆 𝒔𝒆𝒆 𝒉𝒐𝒘 𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒄𝒕𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒄𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒄𝒆𝒔𝒔. 𝑰𝒕'𝒔 𝒂 𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒚 𝒐𝒇 𝒍𝒐𝒗𝒆, 𝒇𝒓𝒆𝒆𝒅𝒐𝒎, 𝒃𝒆𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒚𝒂𝒍, 𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒂𝒈𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒖𝒓𝒈𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒅𝒐 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒃𝒊𝒈 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒄𝒂𝒖𝒔𝒆 𝒘𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒆𝒗𝒆 𝒊𝒏. 
 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝒂𝒖𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒓 𝒉𝒂𝒔 𝒅𝒆𝒔𝒄𝒓𝒊𝒃𝒆𝒅 𝑽𝒆𝒏𝒊𝒄𝒆 𝒘𝒓𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒆𝒅 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒔𝒕 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒅𝒔. 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒚 𝒕𝒂𝒌𝒆𝒔 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒃𝒂𝒄𝒌 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒕𝒉 𝒃𝒆𝒕𝒘𝒆𝒆𝒏 1943 𝒂𝒏𝒅 2017. 𝑰𝒇 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒉𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒍 𝒇𝒊𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏, 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒊𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒃𝒐𝒐𝒌 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒘𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒘𝒂𝒏𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒎𝒊𝒔𝒔. ⁣ 𝑮𝒆𝒕 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒄𝒐𝒑𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝒕𝒐𝒅𝒂𝒚!!! ⁣ ⁣
📚📚📚📚📚📚📚📚📚📚📚⁣ ⁣

 ‘𝑺𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆𝒔 𝒊𝒕’𝒔 𝒎𝒖𝒄𝒉 𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒊𝒆𝒓 𝒕𝒐 𝒃𝒆 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒂 𝒃𝒐𝒐𝒌 – 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆’𝒔 𝒏𝒐 𝒕𝒘𝒐-𝒘𝒂𝒚 𝒆𝒙𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒓𝒚 𝒂𝒃𝒐𝒖𝒕.’
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Set in 2 timelines - 1944 Venice with Stella and 2017 Venice with Luisa. In 1944 Stella works as a translator for the Germans but also on the side for the Resistance AND a propaganda newspaper where stella writes a love story which infuriates her German bosses and he even puts out wanted posters with a reward.

Stella comes across many different characters, Paolo, Sergio, Mimi (her best friend), Vito (her brother who is disabled but still works undercover with a different part of the Resistance to Stella and the boyfriend of Mimi), Cristiano, (her boss), Jack (a parachutist who is injured through a bad landing and is in hiding with the nuns) and more besides. 

So much is going on as Stella dashes around Venice with secret messages with lots of tension and worry for the reader. Will Stella get caught? 

Great story with an overwhelming power of description and atmosphere from Mandy (the author of this book). Another must read from the second world war genre.

Highly recommended
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I love historical fiction so I was pleased to be granted an ARC for this book.

I have read a lot of historical fiction about WW2 but it is normally set in London. It was very interesting to see it from another side. I really enjoyed the story from the past perspective but the "current day" felt a little off or rushed at times, especially towards the end. I was more interested in Stella than anything, I loved reading about her writing and her relationship with Jack. The ending was not at all what I thought it would be but I liked it.
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The Secret Messenger was not only a very good read but I learned alot  not only about Venice but Venice's part in the war.

Stella is a leading a double life,  part of the Resitance  , carrying messages, publishing a newspaper while during the day she is working for the Nazi's translating.

The Secret Messenger has a dual timeline featuring her granddaughter Luisa as she tries to uncover her Grandmother's past.

I found myself thinking about this book when I wasn't reading and just wanting to get back to the story. 

I highly recommend you pick up your copy of The Secret Messenger and if you have not read The German Midwife get that at the same time.

Thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books UK , Avon for letting me get wrapped up in Stella's world.
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This is a dual time line novel where the historical part- Venice during WWII- is much more inserting than the modern one - London 2017.  It's framed by Luisa's discovery of a typewriter and her quest to learn more about her grandmother Stella.  This is the first novel I've read where the heroine is part of the resistance in Italy, which made this a treat.  Stella worked for the Reich as a typist by day and the for the resistance by night.  She shares the secrets she learns via a newsletter.  Unfortunately, the typewriter she uses has a distinctive flaw and when the Nazis realize this, they go on the hunt.  There's some wonderful atmospherics of Venice, interesting information about the war in Italy (I found myself looking for more info), and good characters. There's also a romance for those who want love in their historical fiction but it's not a big part of the novel.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  A very good read.
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This book captured my attention in the first few sentences. I like a book that intertwines present time with things that happened in the past. This story starts with Luisa in 2017 trying to settle her mother's estate, and she comes across a box with an old typewriter and old pictures. And there starts her hunt for her history. I guess that is why I was  immediately caught up in this book. I enjoy tracing family history, and the pictures Luisa found intrigued me. 

This story is mostly told in WWII in Venice. I have read many books about WWII and a couple have been based in Italy, but this was the first I had read that been about Venice. Stella, Luisa's grandmother, is working for the Nazis by day and for the resistance by night. It is about her life, the lives of those around her, and ultimately the stories Stella is able to tell to keep the moral of the resistance up as well as hope for the people of Venice. 

I enjoyed this book, and I think the author told a good story from the perspective of Stella. I would have like to have had a little more about Luisa in the book, but it was not a deal breaker for me. A good read with a couple of twists here and there, which made for a fast, fun book. 

Thank you to @netgalley and @avon_uk for this book in exchange for my honest review.
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I enjoyed the book but not as much as "A Woman of War." I usually love books that alternate between narrators, but this wasn't one of them. I blame it on the characters, they weren't my favorite (mainly Luisa.) I enjoyed reading about Stella far more than Luisa. Luisa didn't have much of a story line, except trying to find out about her past, while also ignoring her husband. Traveling to Venice to find out about a mysterious typewriter and her grandmother, would have been something Luisa and Jamie could have done together. I felt like there was so much missing about about Luisa's mom that wasn't explained, besides having a nonexistent relationship with her daughter. Why didn't Luisa know anything about her grandparents' past? I would have thought that would have been something they shared with the family. It was interesting reading about WWII in Nazi controlled Venice. It was a different take on the usual historical fiction books. I loved the description of Venice and definitely need to visit, preferably when it isn't flooded. The city sounds beautiful.

At times I found Stella's story a little slow. Wouldn't she be noticed constantly traveling back and forth? Would she really be living by herself? I would have thought she would have been living with her parents, since she was unmarried. I'm not sure if Luisa was needed, since the book could have just been about Stella's life.

Recommend giving the book a try, especially if you are a fan of historical fiction books. I look forward to reading more books by the author. Love the cover of the book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Avon Books UK through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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I really wanted to like this one, but it just wasn't for me. I'm normally a huge fan of historical fiction, but this one just left me a bit cold - I couldn't really engage with either of the two women, and if I'm honest, I skimmed most of it to avoid a DNF. I don't know what it was, but there was something about this book that I just couldn't connect with. It's a shame, as the plot sounded brilliant! But just wasn't what I expected or wanted.
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The Secret Messenger by Mandy Robotham is Historical Thriller Fiction. A Split Time novel of 1942 Venice and 2017 London. It is a story of brave women and men working to change the outcome of war. Exciting but sometimes deadly adventures with resistance activities involving every part of their lives.  A writer's passion is both a blessing and a curse in Nazi controlled Venice. A granddaughter‘s admiration and need to research her grandmother’s history. Unexpected family joys, sorrows and secrets are discovered. Happy I was chosen to read this beautiful story. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.  I appreciate the opportunity and thank the author and publisher for allowing me to read, enjoy and review this book. 5 Stars
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Received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own 

The story doesn’t draw me in. It’s written good but there just something missing. It doesn’t make me feel anything. It’s just kind of meh. Not good or bad. I’ve generally enjoyed books about WW2 but this was just a bore. There’s to much time spent on Stella’s side of the story, and sadly the side isn’t that interesting. At least the first 3/4 of the book. This feels like a cross between ww2 story and romance, and neither made me feel anything. I don’t feel engaged in either story.
I kinda saw the twist in the end coming early in the book.
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