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Secrets of a Charmed Life

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4.19  ·  Rating details ·  35,050 ratings  ·  4,079 reviews
She stood at a crossroads, half-aware that her choice would send her down a path from which there could be no turning back. But instead of two choices, she saw only one—because it was all she really wanted to see…

Current day, Oxford, England. Young American scholar Kendra Van Zant, eager to pursue her vision of a perfect life, interviews Isabel McFarland just when the
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Paperback, 386 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by NAL
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Susan Meissner I would say anyone from age 15 or so on up would be able to handle the war time themes and the complexities of the human relationships inside the…moreI would say anyone from age 15 or so on up would be able to handle the war time themes and the complexities of the human relationships inside the pages. (less)
Therese She says that life is a journey and we do the best we can. But the secret is to forgive others and ourselves. That’s the secret to a charmed life.

Community Reviews

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4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  35,050 ratings  ·  4,079 reviews


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Sarah
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book ALMOST made my list of best books I've ever read. I've rarely been so swallowed up in a story since I was ten and read the Little House series. Susan did a masterful job of making me care about Emmy and Julia and then, well, stringing me along on a horrific ride through the London Blitz.

And then. And then we came to the last section of the book presented as journal entries and although there was no way I was going to quit reading at that point, the story lost its momentum. I no longer
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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
It was 4 stars until some things got on my nerves.
Lori
Feb 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! I really appreciate the fact that Meissner didn't feel the need to create a complicated "present" story... the past took center stage. Wonderfully and descripitively written to where I felt compelled to Youtube videos from the "Blitz". Must have been a truely terrifying time to be a Londoner. I look very forward to reading more by Meissner. 4.5 stars.
Fiona Sheppard
Feb 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
Only just started this book but it is already irritating me! With alls it's talk of 'sidewalks' and putting their foot on the 'gas' when referring to the accelerator in a car. I keep expecting to find out that the main protagonists are recent American immigrants . If you are going to write a book about the Blitz in London from an English perspective and expect English readers to take it seriously little things like this are important. I keep waiting for the next gaff ( mistake ).
Tara Chevrestt
I love being shocked, being forced to think, and becoming completely engrossed in someone else's story. This book certainly didn't disappoint. I was sucked in by the engaging narrative. I was left in suspense as to the ending. I was forced to think hard on the issue it tackles: blame. Notably blaming oneself for things out of one's control.

And this was a good lesson for me right now.

The lowdown: It's London, WWII; the actual focus is what happens during the Blitz. Though the story delves into th
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Melisa
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Fear is worse than pain, I think. Pain is centralized, identifiable, and wanes as you wait. Fear is a heaviness you can't wriggle out from under. You must simply find the will to stand with it and start walking. Fear does not start to fade until you take the step that you think you can't."

This is a relatively simple story of ordinary people during an extraordinary time, but is complex in its development. It is the story of how one decision can change your entire life.

I think I often fall into
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Kavita
Jun 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
American authors should really just stick to American fiction. This story reads like a modern American teenager throwing hussy fits when nothing goes her way, only in a Blitz setting. The disconnect between history and character reaction is gaping. Just think, this is similar to a blend of High School Musical and the SS marching down the street in the same plot. It's disconcerting to say the least. Not the least concession was made to the fact that this book was not set in the modern US.

I might
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Holly
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received this book through a goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

I loved this story! I thought it was beautiful in a simple way but still left an impact on me. I just cannot imagine going through something like the London Blitz in WWII. Such a sad and devastating time. This book made me feel like I was there going through it with Emmy. I could feel her loss and hopelessness. I could feel her desire to prove herself and to shed herself after losing so much. Emmy's story was wond
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Tammy
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whyyyyyy did I wait so long to read this book?! It is an excellent, beautifully written novel of two sisters who are tragically affected by the World War II bombings of London. Emmy is a strong female character who has lofty dreams, and we see her mature into a woman on a quest to make up for regrets. Julia is the younger sister who lives with different regrets and is deeply affected by what occurs in London. I had a lump in my throat for the entire last part (of 3). Many life lessons can be lea ...more
Donia
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
I deeply appreciate writers who tackle historical fiction and mean Ms. Meissner no disrespect. I truly wished to read a good story about War Time London but this poorly crafted story simply did not deliver.Perhaps it would have worked if it was listed as Juvenile Fiction? As an adult consumer I was annoyed by this poorly constructed story. At every twist and turn the plot was advanced through the use of transparent props. The blitz has happened; Winter is coming, Emily needs a warm coat; oh my t ...more
Jennifer
Mar 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: the-book-dump
Warning: If you get irritated by "prudish" reviews, stop now. You won't enjoy this one.

I feel very disappointed right now. Susan Meissner has a way with words and I was immediately swept away by her beautiful prose and fully developed characters. I started to get a bit uneasy when the Lord's name was taken in vain a couple of times, but thought it surely would be a rare occurrence and I could press on. Meissner is a Christian author after all. Then I realized that the book really didn't contain
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Sherri Thacker
Loved this story from the beginning to the end!! Susan Meissner sure can tell a great story and make it seem
So real!!
Ena u zemlji knjiga
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Roman počinje kada Kendra, studentica historije, dolazi u raskošnu englesku kuću kod starice koja je jedan od rijetkih živućih svjedoka londonskog Blitza. Ona joj priča priču o svom životu koji se mijenja početkom rata kad donosi odluku koja će je zauvijek promijeniti..

Odličan roman, vješto napisan, ni u jednom trenutku mi nije bio dosadan i jako brzo se čita. Likove naprosto morate zavoljeti i čitajući skupa s njim proživjeti sve ono što i sami proživljavaju. Preporučujem! :)
Pamela
Quite the enthralling story!!!!

We make our choices - you and I - in a world that isn't perfect. And while I wish I had made different choices, as I know you do, which one of us can say that if we had, nothing bad would have ever happened to the people we love?"

A story of mothers and daughters and sisters, uniting and colliding within the volatile realities of war - real and imagined wars. And so much more: shattered dreams, burning hope, love, loss, grief, solitude, redemption, and restoratio
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Sara
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sara by: Carolee
3.5 stars rounded up.

This tale of two sisters, Emmy and Julia Downtree, takes place during the days of World War II when London was under the Blitz and children were evacuated out of the city into the countryside. It is a story of misconception, too many assumptions, too many actions without enough forethought to avoid dire consequences and the grief that comes from making a mistake you feel you can never rectify.

Throughout the story you want to scream at Emmy, “don’t do that” or “think about wh
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Carol
May 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What an awesome journey Meissner takes us on!!! I love to learn history while submerged in a story full of events and characters that touch my emotions! Highly recommend!!
TL
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to TL by: birthday present from my friend Shaun
3.5 stars :) *Some editing, more thoughts on the story*

This is inspirational fiction but it doesn't feel preachy, it's just a lovely story... I normally don't read much of this genre (nothing against it, just doesn't cross my radar very often) but the synopsis had caught my eye and (thanks to Kate Morton, I love these kinds of stories) I was eager to read it... dove into it without reading any reviews.

Thanks again to my friend Shaun for gifting me this for Christmas :).

It starts off slow, buildi
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Myrna
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Slow to start but interesting to read as the story unravels. Secrets of a Charmed Life is a beautiful historical fiction full of joy, heartache, surprises, tension, and sadness. The author captures WWII in England and the evacuated children well. Highly recommended if you like to read WWII historical fiction books about sisterly love and how fate can change lives. This will definitely not be my last Meissner book!
Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle-books
RTC
Dianne
Mar 12, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Could not get past the first few pages. Tedious, excessive references to irrelevant details (i.e. scenery). Predictable and cliche descriptions (i.e. English cottage). And really? They scheduled her interview with the lady on the same day as her 93rd birthday party? How realistic is that? Well, just as realistic as everything else I read the first few pages....not at all. I'm all for running away, fantasy, a perfectly dreamy world to escape to, etc. But this is just too much.
Rachel
Feb 06, 2015 marked it as dnf
DNF @ 42%

Dynamically annoying sisters.
Flat plot.
Lack of historical atmosphere.
Morana Mazor
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Još jedna priča o ljudskim sudbinama i kako je malo dovoljno da sve krene (krivim) putem.. Ovaj put pratimo priču dvaju sestara tijekom Drugog svjetskog rata u Londonu (i okolici- onim divnim, engelskim seocima..).
Lily (Night Owl Book Cafe)
The moment I saw that Susan Meissner wrote another book, I knew I had to have it. Last time I read one of her books I fell completely in love with her elegant writing and storytelling and found myself falling in love all over again. She is one of many authors that keep my interest with historical fiction alive and why I keep coming back to this genre over and over again.

The story mostly follows a 15-year-old girl Emmy Downtree, her story told by Isabel McFarland when a young scholar comes to in
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Carole
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved Susan's last book, Fall Of Marigolds, & this one is every bit as good. She writes 2 story lines, one from the past, and one present day. I always favor the historical story, and was so glad this focused on the WW2 tale of Emmy and Julia, 2 sisters who were separated during the bombings on London by Germany. The only minor thing I wasn't fond of was the 3rd part told by Julia in letter form. If you are a historical fiction fan, this should be on your list to read soon! I look forward ...more
Sara
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Apsolutno predivna! Priča o ratu ispunjena snovima, tugom, nadom i oprostom. Sve emocije su pomiješane u ovim koricama.
Rori
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kimberly
Jan 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
This book was an enjoyable read, but I must admit I am a little baffled: I've read nothing but rave reviews and high praise about this novel, so I was anticipating it to land among my favorite books, but it fell drastically short.

Again, I reiterate: I liked this book. But I also found it lacking—what, exactly, I can't quite figure out. Perhaps this book was at the disadvantage of having just been read after a book of approximately 530 pages (and before that, a book of 870 pages) because I felt
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Michelle
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oh how I loved this book about a young London woman (girl) during the Blitz. The author does such a fantastic job describing the complete incongruity of the situation, set against Emmy's idealistic nature. And the theme of sisterhood- wow. I was completely enchanted from the first page. Highly, highly recommended.
Aleksandra
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Izvrsna, uzbudljiva i emotivna priča! Preporuka za sve ljubitelje tema iz II svjetskog rata!
Zeena
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
Once I picked this book up I couldn't put it back down.
The characters were easy to love and to feel their pain.
Historical fiction at its best.
Highly recommended.
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2,838 followers
Susan Meissner was born in San Diego, California, the second of three. She spent her childhood in just two houses.
Her first writings are a laughable collection of oddly worded poems and predictable stories she wrote when she was eight.

She attended Point Loma College in San Diego, and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, in 1980. When sh
...more
“Fear is worse than pain, I think. Pain is centralized, identifiable, and wanes as you wait. Fear is a heaviness you can’t wriggle out from under. You must simply find the will to stand with it and start walking. Fear does not start to fade until you take the step that you think you can’t.” 31 likes
“Please don't let the unhappiness you knew in the past keep you from accepting happiness now.” 20 likes
More quotes…