The Secret History of Audrey James

Book Review

The Secret History of Audrey James by Heather Marshall
Historical Fiction

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Reader’s Thoughts:

For readers looking for a WWII historical read this summer, look no further than Heather Marshall’s newest novel, The Secret History of Audrey James. Inspired by true stories of courageous women, this book explores the unbreakable bonds of friendship, love, and family, and the strength it takes to stand up for what’s right.

The Secret History of Audrey James is a dual-timeline story set in both Berlin, at the start of World War II, and England in the early 2010s.

Our 1938 timeline follows Audrey, a young pianist who joins an anti-Hitler resistance movement in an effort to save her best friend and bring down the Nazis from within Germany. Audrey’s character is fiercely loyal and courageous, and her storyline is a blend of emotionally moving themes and scenes set amidst the tension and intrigue of the historical setting. The book was well set with strong pacing and rounded-characters, and the changing timelines flowed smoothly.

In between chapters featuring Audrey in WWII, we followed along with Kate in 2010. After a tragic accident, she moves to an old guest house near the Scottish border to heal and start again. This timeline took me a little longer to warm up to but I quickly fell in love with the setting (that guest house sounds like the perfect getaway!) and the blossoming friendship between Kate and the elderly proprietor was sweet and full of hope and healing.

A dual timeline book about uncovering secrets from WWII is a popular theme within the historical fiction genre — but for good reason! And while I’ve read a lot of books with similar premises, this story remained engaging throughout. The writing was heartfelt and well-researched, and while I wouldn’t say the historical elements were new to me, the storyline took some turns I wasn’t expecting. Connections between two stories in a dual timeline can sometimes feel tenuous, and while there was some slight suspension of disbelief required here, I enjoyed having Kate and Audrey’s stories told side by side.

Fans of WWII fiction, be sure to add this book to your TBR this summer!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Recommended for:

Fans of WWII Historical Fiction

This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Advance copy of the book provided courtesy of the publisher, Simon and Schuster Canada. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the book:

(From the publisher): Northern England, 2010: After a tragic accident upends her life, Kate Mercer leaves London to work at an old guest house near the Scottish border, where she hopes to find a fresh start and heal from her loss. When she arrives, she begins to unravel the truth about her past, but discovers the mysterious elderly proprietor is harbouring her own secrets…

Berlin, 1938: Audrey James is weeks away from graduating from a prestigious music school in Berlin, where she’s been living with her best friend, Ilse Kaplan. As she prepares to finish her piano studies, Audrey dreads the thought of returning to her father in England and leaving Ilse behind. Families like the Kaplans are being targeted as war in Europe threatens.

When Ilse’s parents and brother suddenly disappear, two high-ranking Nazi party members confiscate the Kaplans’ upscale home, believing it to be empty. In a desperate attempt to keep Ilse safe, Audrey becomes housekeeper for the officers while Ilse is forced into hiding in the attic—a prisoner in her own home. Tensions rise in the house and the chance of survival diminishes by the day. When a shocking turn of events pushes Audrey to become embroiled in cell of the anti-Hitler movement – clusters of resisters working to bring down the Nazis from within Germany itself – Audrey must decide what matters most: saving herself, protecting her friend, or sacrificing everything for the greater good.

Inspired by true stories of courageous women and the German resistance during WWII, this is a captivating novel about the unbrea

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