Secrets of a Charmed Life

Review of SECRETS OF A CHARMED LIFE by Susan Meissner

Mesu Andrews Book Reviews 0 Comments

Secrets of a Charmed LifeBook Description:

The author of  A Bridge Across the Oceanjourneys from the present day to World War II England, as two sisters are separated by the chaos of wartime…

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, hundreds of thousands of 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 Review 

😃😃😃😃😃 5 Smiles 

This is the first book I’ve read by Susan Meissner, and I chose it for two reasons. First, it’s a time-slip novel, which means it spans two time periods: current day and WWII era. I was interested specifically in Susan’s writing technique because of reason number two. My line editor says Susan is one of the best writers she’s ever edited. After reading this book, I see why. 

The mark of an exceptional book is that it lingers in my thoughts long after I’ve turned the last page. I’ve found myself mulling over the well-formed characters, Emmy and Julia, two sisters quite distinct in personalities. Their relationship was beautifully real with squabbles, dependence, regrets, and abiding joy. The story wasn’t completely character driven, however. Its surprising twists kept me guessing and the emotional hooks were compelling because I was invested in the well-being of these girls, their mother, and those that entered their lives while war turned their world upside down. 

Though the current-day story thread was shorter, it was stitched into the story with surgical precision, revealing only the facts necessary to propel the historical thread forward. When the two narratives collided, it was this beautiful explosion of satisfaction. A sense of Ahhhh, that every reader should feel at the end of a well-written book. Poignant. Reflective. Sometimes heart-rending. If you’re a fan of WWII novels, enjoy sister-themed stories, or simply enjoy a good read, add Secrets of a Charmed Life to your TBR pile.

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