Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante
Maggie Hope Mystery #5
By Susan Elia MacNeal
Read by Susan Duerden
Penguin Random House Audio/Random House Audio
Oct 27, 2015 | 614 Minutes
E-Book & Paperback
Penguin Random House/Bantam
Oct 27, 2015 | 352 Pages
Audiobook provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
World War II rages on across Europe, but Maggie Hope has finally found a moment of rest on the pastoral coast of western Scotland. Home from an undercover mission in Berlin, she settles down to teach at her old spy training camp, and to heal from scars on both her body and heart. Yet instead of enjoying the quieter pace of life, Maggie is quickly drawn into another web of danger and intrigue. When three ballerinas fall strangely ill in Glasgow—including one of Maggie’s dearest friends—Maggie partners with MI-5 to uncover the truth behind their unusual symptoms. What she finds points to a series of poisonings that may expose shocking government secrets and put countless British lives at stake. But it’s the fight brewing in the Pacific that will forever change the course of the war—and indelibly shape Maggie’s fate.
December 1941. Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill arrives in Washington, D.C., along with special agent Maggie Hope. Posing as his typist, she is accompanying the prime minister as he meets with President Roosevelt to negotiate the United States’ entry into World War II. When one of the First Lady’s aides is mysteriously murdered, Maggie is quickly drawn into Mrs. Roosevelt’s inner circle—as ER herself is implicated in the crime. Maggie knows she must keep the investigation quiet, so she employs her unparalleled skills at code breaking and espionage to figure out who would target Mrs. Roosevelt, and why. What Maggie uncovers is a shocking conspiracy that could jeopardize American support for the war and leave the fate of the world hanging dangerously in the balance. http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/236764/mrs-roosevelts-confidante-by-susan-elia-macneal/
I’ve been reading a boatload of WWII novels lately. Wars are not my favorite subject, but they do provide a great backdrop for passionate stories. Life and death, freedom or tyranny are on the line are on the line and bring out the best and worst in characters.
This one plays historical issues one after the other: US entry into WWII, the history of intelligence gathering, the politics of discrimination, even the relationship between FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt and their relationships with other people. The relationship between Maggie and her former fiance is glibly handled – as are relieved to keep missing their shots at getting back together.
The story is spread out across quite a few story lines and one, dealing with high-ranking German POWs felt quite unnecessary in the depths to which it was explored and tied to another sub-plot. Maybe this is a set-up for the next book in the series?
I was first attracted to these novels because of their distinctive covers. But, this is the first of the series I have managed to read.
Maggie is passionate and skilled, but she is treated as a pawn, skillfully placed and played by Churchill and FDR to do things that need doing but which can not be done, or even suggested for political reasons.
Eleanor Roosevelt is portrayed as a somewhat stupid woman. Her purported lesbianism and her championing of equality for people of color threatens support in America’s entry into WWII. Maggie, born in the USA but somehow in England fighting the good fight, is appalled by her country’s treatment of “Negroes.”
I found the subtle strategy Churchill uses in playing his pawns: somehow knowing their contribution to the war, and to justice, will succeed as he and FDR forge a strong relationship between the US and Great Britain, to be too knowing. It’s as if he and FDR possess some special political sixth sense. I never knew that Churchill came to the USA shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The biggest issue I had were the reader’s American accents. Even my husband, walking in as I listened commented on them. They got better as it went on, or I became accustomed to them. I did, however, like the way the main character was voiced.
I loved the atmosphere of the book as it thrust me back in time; where the norms of behavior were different.
In the end, I enjoyed the story, the times were passionate and dangerous, the events and issues vital and important. The story is more than a mystery, and its themes are still relevant today. It’s also, to some degree a holiday story since the events take place around Christmas and the New Year.