Sally's Reviews > Mr. Churchill's Secretary

Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal
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Aug 22, 12

bookshelves: borrowed-from-library, historical-fiction
Read from August 19 to 21, 2012

I have such mixed feelings on this book. My grandfather (who died before I was born) worked at Bletchley Park and was a bit of a mathematical eccentric who enjoyed chess and crossword puzzles. I didn't inherit those traits but I do have an interest in books related to what he did, including novels. There was a lot in this book, however, that just didn't ring true to the era.

My biggest issue seemed to be with the vetting process of governmental hires. Throughout the narrative, various characters state they didn't want Maggie hired as a secretary due to her background and connections. SO WHY DID THEY HIRE HER?

Then there was David, the dashing private secretary. Who happens to be homosexual and all his friends know about it (though apparently, the people who hired him don't). This is problematic. Alan Turing, the genius of Bletchley Park, was homosexual and any good biography of him will tell you the problems that caused. Homosexuality was illegal during the time frame of this novel. David would not have told anyone and it would certainly not have been discussed in public. This was a time when propaganda posters warned the British public that "loose lips sink ships." If the enemy learned of David's job and orientation they would have made him a key blackmail target. In fact, when one enemy operative was revealed it made me wonder how stupid they were not to use him in that manner.

Then we have the nationalities of Maggie, Paige and Charlotte. It took me several pages to work out where they were from and what 'accent' they would each have. I hate that. I want to 'hear' my characters from the get-go.

I wanted to like this book and it is a jolly breezy read. Just don't think too much about it and definitely don't think of it as an accurate piece of British wartime historical fiction.
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Reading Progress

08/19/2012 page 75
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