The Secret Society of Salzburg

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Pub Date 27 Dec 2022 | Archive Date Not set

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Description

From the author of The Widows of Champagne, and inspired by true events, comes a gripping and heartwrenching story of two very different women united to bring light to the darkest days of World War II.
 
London, 1933
 
At first glance, Austrian opera singer Elsa Mayer-Braun has little in common with the young English typist she encounters on tour. Yet she and Hattie Featherstone forge an instant connection—and strike a dangerous alliance. Using their friendship as a cover, they form a secret society with a daring goal: to rescue as many Jews as possible from Nazi persecution.
 
Though the war’s outbreak threatens Elsa and Hattie’s network, their efforts attract the covert attention of the British government, offering more opportunities to thwart the Germans. But Elsa’s growing fame as Hitler’s favorite opera singer, coupled with her secret Jewish ancestry, make her both a weapon and a target—until her future, too, hangs in the balance.
 
From the glamorous stages of Covent Garden and Salzburg to the horrors of Bergen-Belsen,  two ordinary women swept up by the tide of war discover an extraordinary friendship—and the courage to save countless lives.
 
 
 
From the author of The Widows of Champagne, and inspired by true events, comes a gripping and heartwrenching story of two very different women united to bring light to the darkest days of World War...

Advance Praise

“…this (story) powerfully blends ruminations on the importance of art with acute depictions of Nazi cruelty. The result is a rousing historical.” -Publishers Weekly

“…this (story) powerfully blends ruminations on the importance of art with acute depictions of Nazi cruelty. The result is a rousing historical.” -Publishers Weekly


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ISBN 9781335427564
PRICE CA$19.99 (CAD)

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Featured Reviews

This is an excellent read!
Set in WWII, a famous opera singer befriends two English sisters. As Hitler rises to power, Jews begin to hope for asylum in other countries. Unable to turn a blind eye to the reality before them, these women, along with many others set into motion a network to rescue as many Jews as they can.
But everywhere, there are spies and traitors. In a real life game of trying to decide who to trust, the smuggling of people goes on. But how long before bitter betrayal strikes?
Vera, Hattie, and Elsa will tug at your heartstrings.

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The Secret Society of Salzburg is both an uplifting and heart-wrenching novel about the importance of art and beauty in the darkest of times. Set in the glittering world of Europe’s greatest opera houses, Renee Ryan weaves a masterful story of growing political tensions before WWII and the life-or-death struggle Jewish refuges faced anchored by the unbreakable friendship of two extraordinary women. Hattie and her sister work in low paying British government jobs but both have bigger dreams. Both discover more of themselves when the fall in love with opera and become close friends with an opera singer. I recommend this book to anyone interested in WWII history and suspense novels.

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Hattie and her sister work in low paying British government jobs but both have bigger dreams. Both discover more of themselves when the fall in love with opera and become close friends with an opera singer. Of course, Hitler and his hatred bod Jews changes everything. Wonderful characters set against a backdrop that begs us to ask ourselves if we are willing to stand up for what is right.

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Publication date: December 27, 2022

Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review an advanced reader's copy of this book. (FTC compliance met with this statement.) This in no way affects my review, all opinions are my own, are not a result of compensation and may be affected by the fact that I currently have nothing better to do than read multiple books a day sitting at the nursing home with mom and dad or in front of the a.c.!! (And you would be AMAZED at how much reading you can get done when you are up 90% of the night due to anxiety!)

SYNOPSIS
*****************
From the author of The Widows of Champagne, and inspired by true events, comes a gripping and heartwrenching story of two very different women united to bring light to the darkest days of World War II.

London, 1933

At first glance, Austrian opera singer Elsa Mayer-Braun has little in common with the young English typist she encounters on tour. Yet she and Hattie Featherstone forge an instant connection—and strike a dangerous alliance. Using their friendship as a cover, they form a secret society with a daring goal: to rescue as many Jews as possible from Nazi persecution.

Though the war’s outbreak threatens Elsa and Hattie’s network, their efforts attract the covert attention of the British government, offering more opportunities to thwart the Germans. But Elsa’s growing fame as Hitler’s favourite opera singer, coupled with her secret Jewish ancestry, makes her both a weapon and a target—until her future, too, hangs in the balance.

From the glamorous stages of Covent Garden and Salzburg to the horrors of Bergen-Belsen, two ordinary women swept up by the tide of war discover an extraordinary friendship—and the courage to save countless lives.

Although the cover has the ubiquitous woman's back on it, the cover reminded me of the last scene on "Home Fires" with the planes overhead ... sometimes a cover calls to you!!! This is an excellently written historical fiction novel that I will highly recommend to friends, family, patrons, and strangers I see reading on mass transit and down by the Thames. I actually have the perfect person to gift this to but as it comes out two days AFTER Christmas, I will have to give her an IOU for it.

The characters are appealing and enjoyable and the history was enthralling ... the perfect read for a lover of good fiction and history!

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Well written and researched. I found the writing strong, & the characters even stronger. A nice plot allows for a pacy read that kept me engaged. I'd recommend this book to all fans of the genre. Thank you very much for the chance to read. I thoroughly enjoyed!

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I love, love, loved The Secret Society of Salzburg. As the author did research for the book, she came across the sisters Ida and Louise Cook, whom she modeled this book after. Their story is in a book called The Opera Sisters, which I read and adored.

The Secret Society is the story of two sisters, Hattie and Vera Featherstone, and their beloved opera star, Elsa Mayer-Braun. Together they saved dozens of Jews, secreting them away to London where the sisters lived.

The women met by happenstance. The sisters worked as typists and Elsa's aunt, Malvina was at their place of employment to give a speech about opera, complete with record albums. The sisters were present and when Malvina played Elsa's music they were mesmerized. They decided to save up so they could attend the Salzburg music festival, but first they went to see her while she was performing in London. While they were waiting in line to purchase tickets, they saw Elsa come out of the theatre. Hattie, who was an artist, sketched her and presented her with the drawing. Elsa was so moved by it that she reserved tickets for the sisters to attend her performance. An immediate friendship blossomed, and together the plotted a way to save as many Jews as they could from Hitler's Nazis.

Not long after that, Hattie and Vera were able to go to the Salzburg music festival, Salzburg being where Elsa lived. Again, she reserved tickets for them for all of her performances. At the first show Elsa introduced Hattie to Oliver who owned several art galleries throughout Europe, including two in New York. He'd seen Elsa's sketch and believed Hattie showed promise. He gave her his card and told her to phone him when she got back to London so that he could see more of her work. He liked it so much that he commissioned her to produce as much as she could. In exchange, he would stage showings in his galleries.

It was during Hattie and Vera's next visit that Elsa confided in them that she needed to get her aunt to London, as she had lost her job because she was a Jew and ran the risk of being deported to a concentration camp. The sisters agreed to rescue her, and thus started the rescue mission. Of course Elsa had Jewish blood too, but she had changed her name so no one would know.

Their rescue mission went along smoothly and, as I stated earlier, they saved dozens between 1935 and 1943. In 1943, at the beginning of the last concert of the music festival, Nazi soldiers entered the theatre and arrested Elsa for treason. When she arrived in holding, she learned that they knew all about her exploits of saving Jews, and they knew that she herself was a Jew. They put her in a concentration camp that was better than the rest because they intended to trade her for Nazis who had been arrested.

It turned out that Oliver was an undercover agent for London's MI6. At first, Hattie felt betrayed by him. He had not been honest with her, and she had strong feelings for him as he had for her. So she decided to keep their relationship platonic and just go through the motions. But when she found out that Elsa had been arrested, she went to him and pleaded for him to help Elsa. And he came through. When she was released, he brought her to Hattie and Vera's flat where her aunt also was. She shared her arrest story with them. She had always thought her husband, Wilhelm, had betrayed her. But one night in the camp, her rival, Freida showed up and confessed that she had been the one who turned her in. She begged Elsa's forgiveness, which Elsa gave. Before Oliver left the flat, Elsa asked him to get Freida out, which he did.

In the end, in 1945, the music festival, which was condemned in 1943, was reinstated. Elsa and Freida were the opening act. Hattie and Oliver, who were married, and Vera and Malvina were in attendance.

This was a heart warming story with just enough suspense to keep coming back for more. I had difficulty putting it down, I thought the characters were well developed and the storyline was easy to follow. I would definitely recommend this book for book club. I give it five stars.

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This book was very good! The two protagonists were Hattie, an artist, and Elsa, an opera singer. The story alternates between their points of view, and the unlikely pair become fast friends in World War II Europe. They face different types of challenges as they attempt to remain safe, and then also to help others. I would recommend this historical fiction to anyone who enjoys a good story with some struggles and triumphs.

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The Secret Society of Salzburg
by Renee Ryan
Publisher: HARLEQUIN - Romance (U.S. & Canada)
Series: None
Rated: 5
Obtain: Borrow
Back of the Book: “London, 1933
At first glance, Austrian opera singer Elsa Mayer-Braun has little in common with the young English typist she encounters on tour. Yet she and Hattie Featherstone forge an instant connection—and strike a dangerous alliance. Using their friendship as a cover, they form a secret society with a daring goal: to rescue as many Jews as possible from Nazi persecution.
Though the war’s outbreak threatens Elsa and Hattie’s network, their efforts attract the covert attention of the British government, offering more opportunities to thwart the Germans. But Elsa’s growing fame as Hitler’s favorite opera singer, coupled with her secret Jewish ancestry, make her both a weapon and a target—until her future, too, hangs in the balance.
From the glamorous stages of Covent Garden and Salzburg to the horrors of Bergen-Belsen, two ordinary women swept up by the tide of war discover an extraordinary friendship—and the courage to save countless lives.”

Impressions: I enjoyed this book! Although this was not a Christian book it was clean in romance, language and violence. The characters were easy to like. The inner turmoil the characters faced were easy to relate to but also interesting. As the characters developed, romances bloomed and the heroines were tested as to where their loyalties were. The romances were opposite in many ways; one was quick and lovely the other was slow and sure. Although there was conflict in these relationships the tensions and heartaches were realistic. The scope of emotions that were probable during WW2 were intensified as the characters navigated love in the tangled webs of war. The ending of this story was satisfying and hopeful. What’s not to love?!

Quotes: “If this wasn’t their fight, whose was it?” – This reminds me of Matthew Wests’ song, Do Something.

“…We can’t soar if we don’t leave the comfort of the nest.” – What a challenging statement of truth for when we feel afraid.

“Dear God, please. This is bigger than us. We need your help.”- What a simple prayer but done in earnest is a mustard seed waiting to be heard by our LORD.

I received an ARC of this book via the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review shared here. For more book reviews go to: https://simplyannehere.wordpress.com

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We are first introduced to opera star Elsa in 1943 Austria, as she is arrested by the Gestapo. The narrator then relates the story of how this event came to be.
We meet Henrietta Featherstone (Hattie), a British artist who, in 1934 is a civil servant in London with artistic aspirations. The two women meet by chance, become friends, and through their common animosity for Hitler and the war, plus some machinations of a British MI6 agent, join forces to rescue Jews from the Nazis.

The story shifts between Elsa's interrogation and imprisonment and the unfolding tale of the adventure that landed her in that dire situation. The narrative realistically portrays the politics and atrocities of those times through this fictional tale of drama, romance, terror, and daring.

Thoroughly enthralling and satisfying, the narrative carries the reader through an entire gamut of emotions to a satisfactory conclusion.

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Another beautiful, heartbreaking WWII novel. This was my first time reading about the opera world and I was very impressed. I had a strong desire to look up the songs they referenced while reading. And oh, how I wish I could see Hattie’s beautiful pantings. The representation of art in this book left me dreaming of the beautiful, chaotic world Elsa and Hattie lived in.

I have a hard time not rating WWII books high because they are always based on true stories of real heroism and devastation. Though I would have liked to see the ending flushed out a little more in depth, it was still an entertaining, enthralling novel. 4.5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and the Harlequin for the advanced reading copy in exchange for my honest review.

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At first glance, Austrian opera singer Elsa Mayer-Braun has little in common with the young English typist she encounters on tour. Yet she and Hattie Featherstone forge an instant connection—and strike a dangerous alliance. Using their friendship as a cover, they form a secret society with a daring goal: to rescue as many Jews as possible from Nazi persecution.

Though the war’s outbreak threatens Elsa and Hattie’s network, their efforts attract the covert attention of the British government, offering more opportunities to thwart the Germans. But Elsa’s growing fame as Hitler’s favorite opera singer, coupled with her secret Jewish ancestry, make her both a weapon and a target—until her future, too, hangs in the balance.

From the glamorous stages of Covent Garden and Salzburg to the horrors of Bergen-Belsen, two ordinary women swept up by the tide of war discover an extraordinary friendship—and the courage to save countless lives.

The story was beautifully written from the different time jumps and the point-of-views from the two women. I was immersed in their story from the first page to the last. The richness of art and opera was secondary to the horrors of the holocaust that Ms. Ryan painted. We know there is no happy ending with WWII but you will feel content once you read the final chapter.

Thank you to NetGalley and Renee Ryan for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This is a poignant and courageous story of two very different women, a opera diva and a British civil servant, both of whom are loosely based on real women. When others turned a blind-eye, they saved countless Jewish .lives. The descriptions of life in London and Salzburg and Bergen-Belsen are heart-rending. Highly recommended.

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Renee Ryan has taken some very trying circumstances and put them into an incredible narrative to draw her readers in from the very first page and doesn't let go until the epilogue. She based the story on real people and real events.

Hattie Featherstone meets Elsa Mayer-Braun's aunt when she visits the place where Hattie works. It is through Elsa's aunt that Hattie is introduced to opera and to Elsa's incredible voice. Hearing Elsa sing inspires Hattie's artwork to a level Hattie had never achieved before. Through Elsa's aunt, Hattie and Elsa met and became friends and more than friends, they became partners in helping Jews escape the reach of the Nazi regime.
Hattie and her sister travel to Salzburg to hear Elsa sing and meet up with Elsa while they are staying there. Elsa connects them to people who need to leave the continent and go to a friendlier country until the hostilities are over. Once war breaks out, Hattie and Elsa have to meet up in Stockholm, Sweden, but between Elsa's music and Hattie's art, they both have legitimate covers for their activities.

Oliver Roundel is an art dealer who sees a sketch Hattie did of Elsa and sees beyond the surface of the sketch to the real art that lies beneath. He is the one who sets up her art shows and aids in the rescue mission of the Jews.

This novel is one of the most gripping novels I've read about World War II and the political climate in Europe. The characters are entirely believable and the settings are explained with great detail without distracting from the plot. The villainous characters live up to their evil natures and the good guys ride their "white horses" quite well. This is a five star book with two thumbs up and artwork that matches the beautiful voices of the opera.

Harlequin Publishing (Love Inspired line) provided the copy I read for this review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

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Elsa is a famous opera singer and when she meets Hattie, she learns she is not only a fan but an ally in although Elsa is nervous about it she knows she must do the right thing and her Hattie and Hattie’s sister form the secret Society of Salzburg. This was a great, fantastic, phenomenal historical fiction book! I thought the characters were wonderful I thought the author grasp the error expertly I just logged the book! It was one of those books I wanted to stop halfway through just to tell someone how great the book was. I loved it and I’m so glad I got to read it. I received this book from NetGalleyShelf the publishers but I am leaving this review voluntarily please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.

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