Princess Elizabeth’s Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal
Susan Elia MacNeal
Susan Elia MacNeal introduced the remarkable Maggie Hope in her acclaimed debut, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary. Now Maggie returns to protect Britain’s beloved royals against an international plot – one that could change the course of history.
As World War II sweeps the continent and England steels itself against German attack, Maggie Hope, former secretary to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, completes her training to become a spy for MI-5.
Spirited, strong-willed, and possessing one of the sharpest minds in government for mathematics and code-breaking, she fully expects to be sent abroad to gather intelligence for the British front. Instead, to her great disappointment, she is dispatched to go undercover at Windsor Castle, where she will tutor the young Princess Elizabeth in math.
Yet castle life quickly proves more dangerous – and deadly – than Maggie ever expected.
The upstairs-downstairs world at Windsor is thrown into disarray by a shocking murder, which draws Maggie into a vast conspiracy that places the entire royal family in peril.
And as she races to save England from a most disturbing fate, Maggie realizes that a quick wit is her best defense, and that the smallest clues can unravel the biggest secrets, even within her own family.
Review by C. Wong:
Princess Elizabeth’s Spy by Susan Elia MacNeil was so very good there is no way that I can write a review to do it justice. It is the perfect marriage of historical fiction of World II and a delectable mystery. I loved peeking in the Prime Minister’s life and the future Queen Elizabeth’s. Each time that I sat down with this book, I knew I would that I would be entertained and learn some history at the same time.
The book even has a little bit devoted to reading codes and some history behind them. I have alwayed loved to read about code breaking and the necessary secrecy surrounding it.
Maggie Hope, the main character has been in a previous book; Mr. Churchill’s Secretary and will be in a future book, His Majesty’s Hope. I want to read all the Maggie Hope books. She is strong, spunky, sharp at math and human. She has been assigned to be math tutor to Princess Elizabeth publicly but also to be a sponge for what is going on in Windsor castle. She makes mistakes but really shines in crisis.
Windsor Castle with its underground tunnels is vividly described as are all the characters in this book. You can bet that this castle is now on my list of what I want to see when I finally go to the U.K.
Princess Elizabeth’s Spy was a perfect dip into history. Susan Elia MacNeil makes the Princesses Lillibet(short for Elizabeth) and Margaret seem so real, mischievous, have a great sense of humor and already possess a stiff upper lip. Even the controversial Duke and Duchess of Windsor were in this book.
I highly recommend this enchanting book to all historical fiction and mystery fans.
Review by Jaylia3:
I have been looking forward to reading this sequel since I finished Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, and I was not disappointed. With a skillful combination of evocative writing and detailed research, author Susan Elia MacNeal transports the reader into WWII Windsor Castle where antiquated dungeons now serve as air raid shelters for the royal family and staff.
Using a knack for calculation and codes to do her part for the war effort, Maggie Hope is the same sensible, quietly passionate character she was in the last book, but she’s now battling Hitler undercover as Princess Elizabeth’s math tutor. Her real mission is to protect the princess and prevent the Nazi’s from maneuvering her uncle, the former King Edward VIII, back onto the throne.
Maggie Hope is my favorite kind of character. Her brains, determination and good intentions coexist with human emotions and flaws in judgment, so she’s no superhero. In spite of her lack of god-like prowess, author NacNeal doesn’t cut Maggie any breaks. In order to do her job Maggie ends up deep in a heart-stopping predicament that will have tragic consequences and appears impossible to solve until Maggie figures out a potential but dangerous solution.
Maggie is also dealing with uncertainty and heartache because her not-quite fiancée is missing in action and presumed but not known to be dead. Still, life goes on, and the British stiff upper lip means the characters manage to find joy, pride and pleasure even in unlikely circumstances.
Along the way Maggie discovers some startling new information about her parents, we’re set up to learn more about this in the next book, and the reader discovers that even as a young girl Elizabeth has a thing for those cute but snappy short-legged Welsh corgis.
I believe Princess Elizabeth’s Spy could be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel, but its predecessor provides more background and is wonderful reading itself so I’d recommend starting there.