Title: Secrets of a Charmed Life
Author: Susan Meissner
Publisher: NAL Trade
Publish Date: February 3, 2015 (Today!)
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "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
elderly woman is ready to give up secrets about the war that she has
kept for decades...beginning with who she really is. What Kendra
receives from Isabel is both a gift and a burden--one that will test her
convictions and her heart.
1940s, England. As Hitler wages an
unprecedented war against London’s civilian population, one million
children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside. But
even as fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia
find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, Emmy’s burning ambition to
return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her
against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. Acting at cross
purposes just as the Luftwaffe rains down its terrible destruction, the
sisters are cruelly separated, and their lives are transformed…"
My Two Cents:
its core, "Secrets of a Charmed Life" is a story of sisters and
secrets. Set during World War II in England, this historical fiction
book focuses on the London evacuation of children during the war. Emmy
and Julia are two of those children to be evacuated. Older Emmy sees an
opportunity to carve out a new life for herself, separate from the
difficult life she had growing up. It may mean leaving some things
behind though and she is not sure that she is ready to leave the past
behind. This book mostly follows Emmy's journey.
started out a little stiffly to me but really hit it's stride later on.
Although the book really focuses on the events of WWII and the aftermath
of the war in Emmy's life, the author introduces a present day element.
The present day element is warranted as it allows the reader to gain
some insight into what happened eventually because of Emmy's decisions
as a young woman. I just did not like this part as much. We really don't
get to know Kendra, the present day graduate student who interviews the
mysterious Isabel. She is more of just a vehicle for the secrets and
therefore it felt to me like she was a just sort of stuck in the story.
loved the historical detail in this book though. I knew about the
evacuations of the children from London but I did not know too much
about them as in how they actually happened and what it might have been
like for the children to be evacuated. I liked how the author gave
readers some insight into what it must have been like. Overall, I
enjoyed this story and believe that other historical fiction lovers will
enjoy it as well.