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Secrets of a Charmed Life Paperback – February 3, 2015
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“Rich with vividly drawn characters, places, and events…It’s themes of reinvention and redemption will strike a chord with readers.”—Booklist
“Simply told, yet powerful in its depth…This vivid, well-researched story, depicting the horrors of the Blitz, the beauty of the countryside and the heartbreak and loss of a loved one will remain in your mind long after it ends.”—RT Book Reviews
“This story of choices and consequences takes readers on a heartrending journey through war-torn London, the quiet Cotswolds and far-off America…[An] impressive and emotional novel.”—Historical Novel Society
“With vivid storytelling and lovely prose, Meissner weaves a story, told from three perspectives, of World War II and present day seamlessly.”—Open Book Society
About the Author
Susan Meissner is a former managing editor of a weekly newspaper and an award-winning columnist. She is the award-winning author of A Bridge Across the Ocean, Secrets of a Charmed Life, A Fall of Marigolds, and Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, among other novels.
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The last portion of the book ruined it for me. This portion is the one that takes place in the form of letters/diary entries. I won't say who wrote this portion, but the whole turn of events and the story conveyed by these letters/diary entries very nearly ruined the book for me. It went from being a beautifully written, genuinely touching story to becoming overwrought and unrealistic. Even though this novel is a work of fiction, much of it felt authentic and believable. Until the letters and the story within them. The book went from being engrossing and compelling to feeling melodramatic. I went from feeling broken-hearted to rolling my eyes.
The letters also made the character who wrote them seem suddenly less sympathetic and almost... Unlikable.
So, in the end, the was promising but lost it's way by taking a turn of melodrama that it never really recovers from.
I have been fortunate to be living in the USA. We have experienced some terrible events, but the sustained bombing of our major city with the threat of invasion and take over have not been part of my life so far. Yes, I have learned about some horrible events, such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the American Revolution, and the Civil War. The reality of attack was brought home mightily on 9/11, during which I did lose friends, was traumatized to the point of having my life changed from that occurrence. But to be a child, alone in a large city under continuous bombing day after day, would be more than most could take. To compound the trauma, the lifelong guilt of feeling you acted irresponsibly, would be something many of us could not handle. Churchill's speeches and bravery in the face of this attack on his country have become ever so much more amazing and inspiring now, having read this book about this incredible time period.
There is a little too much neat tidying up of the plot line, and for this, I give 4 stars, not five. However, the reading of this book has enlightened me and bolstered me into believing that the human spirit is capable of surviving enormous trauma with the notion that life does go on and is worth moving on into an unknown future----a message we all could benefit from hearing.
When I was offered the opportunity to read an advance copy of "Secrets of a Charmed Life" I must admit....it was the cover that drew me in. Kudos to the designers! But then I opened the book, and I was swept away.
"Secrets of a Charmed Life" reminded me why I love to read. The story takes place during the reign of Adolf Hitler, and is set in England. I've studied World War II many times, but place fictional characters in the midst of the Blitz and history comes alive.
I cannot fathom the fear and the pain one must face when life is so uncertain and dangerous that you must send your children away to live in safety. Reading about the mass exodus of England's children was mind boggling, to say the least.
And I felt every bit of Emmy's resentment at being shipped off to the countryside and to strangers. To be almost at the age of adulthood and yet treated like a child had to be maddening for her. But when she made her pivotal choice I wanted to reach into the story and grab her, stop her from making that devastating choice.
This book is so well written that you'll be reading, then look up and be shocked to see that you are in 2015 and not in war torn England. You'll feel the bombs as they hit, choke on the dust and debris, and feel the losses that come from that devastation.
Susan isn't an author in this instance. Instead, she is an artist, creating a masterpiece of fiction that had me riveted from start to finish. My only issue were the final chapters. I enjoyed the storytelling within the story so much, that to be left reading letter after letter did slow down the book. But that is such a minor quibble.
"Secrets of a Charmed Life" releases today, so get your copy soon. You won't regret it. My thanks to Susan for allowing me to be a part of her Dream Team in exchange for my honest review. This one is highly recommended, and "Secrets of a Charmed Life" is a book I will read again!
in the horror that faced England during World War II. The major event that actually happened was the sending of children out of London to volunteers in the countryside where they would be safe from the bombs. Parents stayed in London because their jobs were there. One realizes while reading that the fictional events probably happened to many real people during the conflict. Meissner's characters are realistic and believable.