Audra (Unabridged Chick)'s Reviews > Princess Elizabeth's Spy

Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal
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's review
Jul 20, 2012

really liked it
Read from October 22 to 29, 2012

Earlier in the month I read the first Maggie Hope novel, Mr. Churchill's Secretary , which I've grown fonder of as time has gone on; and when I dug into the second Maggie Hope novel, Princess Elizabeth’s Spy, I felt that satisfying happiness of returning to a friend.

The opening scene, with the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson negotiating the British monarchy in exchange for money and a promise to help the Nazis, left my jaw on the ground. From that opening, a thread of insidiousness, betrayal, and double-cross darted through the story, and I found it a fun counterbalance to the kind of 'cozy' feel of the book.

Maggie, now no longer working for Churchill, is instead training with MI-5 as a spy, but can't cut the physicality of the work. (I was delighted by that twist because I dreaded Maggie was going to become a super spy; it was refreshing to see she wasn't perfect at everything!) Instead, she finds herself assigned to the royal family as a tutor for Princess Elizabeth, which of course, turns out to be a far less sedate assignment than she anticipated.

The book's plot is pretty action heavy, reminiscent of a James Bond story set during WWII, but I was fine with that. Some readers felt it got a little too crazy toward the end, but for me, it was the sort of almost over-the-top craziness you get from a good spy flick (I was reminded a lot of the the tv show MI-5/Spooks while reading.) Actually, my only frustration with the story was the formation of the love 'triangle', which was obvious from the first handful of pages. Probably one of my least favorite angles in a book series; I'm dreading the drawing out of it that I'm sure will happen in the third book.  Otherwise, this book satisfied: drama, cute heroine, brushes with death, puzzle solving, ambiance, historical tidbits.

There were moments while reading when I thought, what does Queen Elizabeth think of all this?, and I realized I don't think I've read much historical fiction -- or any -- in which one of the historical figures, fictionalized, is still alive!

I'm definitely keen to get my hands on the next book -- as with this one, I'm eager to spend more time with Maggie. I think this is fine as a standalone but start with Mr. Churchill's Secretary first as some of the plot in this book spoils the first one.
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