Today I am delighted to take part in the blog tour for The Secretary by Catherine Hokin.
The Tower House.
Down a secluded path, hidden by overgrown vines, the crumbling villa echoes with memories. Of the family who laughed and sang there, until the Nazis tore them from their home. And of the next woman to walk its empty rooms, whose courage in the face of evil could alter the course of history…
Germany 1940. As secretary to the leader of the SS, Magda spends her days sending party invitations to high-ranking Nazis, and her evenings distributing pamphlets for the resistance. But Magda is leading a dangerous double life, smuggling secrets out of the office. It’s a deadly game, and eventual exposure is a certainty, but Magda is driven by a need to keep the man she secretly loves safe as he fights against the Nazis…
Forty years later.Nina’s heart pounds as she steps into an uncertain future carrying a forged passport, a few bank notes, and a scribbled address for The Tower House taken from an intricate drawing she found hidden in her grandmother’s wardrobe. Separated from her family and betrayed by her country, Nina’s last hope is to trace her family’s history in the ruins of the past her grandmother ran from. But, when she finally finds the abandoned house, she opens the door to a forgotten story, and to secrets which will change everything: past, present, and future…
A poignant and gripping novel about bravery, loss and redemption during the Second World War.
An unputdownable read for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, We Were the Lucky Ones and The Alice Network.
On her author page on Amazon, Catherine states “I am a story lover as well as a story writer and nothing fascinates me more than a strong female protagonist and a quest. Hopefully those are what you will encounter when you pick up my books.” and in The Secretary I most certainly did. There are two leading ladies in this story. Both are smart, courageous and determined. Magda, the secretary of the title is a young German woman who is fighting to save innocent German lives right from inside the lions den. She hates the Nazis and everything they stand for but she knows that by working right within the heart of the enemy she can make a difference. She plays her role well but danger is around every corner and one tiny slip could cost more than she can possibly imagine.
Years later Nina has grown up in post war Germany. A Germany where a wall divides East from West. She longs to escape the prison that has become her country , to find a way past the wall. As a child she discovered the existence of The Tower House, a place that looked as though from a fairytale, a place her grandmother once lived when she was younger. She longs to escape the East and find this beautiful house that her grandmother never speaks of. But there are secrets buried within the past, secrets that may be misinterpreted. Secrets that could prove deadly for the future of both Nina and Magda.
This was such a fascinating read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have read many historical novels based around the Second World War and the Holocaust and this novel added a fresh perspective of those horrific events in history. Told entirely from the viewpoint of a German family, it shows the very real horror that was faced by those who did not follow the Nazi regime, those who watched the senseless murders begin to unfold and how they tried to stop it and how they tried to tell the world.
It is also a reminder, for me at least, that the end of the War did not bring peace to many German citizens. I found Nina’s story and fight equally fascinating and an eye opener to how long it took for many people to be free of the dictatorship (of one form or another) that controlled their lives.
At times heart-breaking but always filled with courage it was a highly enjoyable and gripping read and I thoroughly recommend it.
Thank you so much to Sarah Hardy of Bookouture for inviting me to take part in this BOOKS-ON-TOUR blog tour.
About the author
Catherine Hokin is the author of two World War Two inspired novels set in Berlin, her favourite city. Following a History degree at Manchester University she worked in teaching, marketing and politics, while waiting for a chance to do what she really wanted which was to write full time. Her short stories have been published by iScot, Writers Forum and Myslexia magazines and she was the winner of the 2019 Fiction 500 Short Story Competition. She is a lover of strong female leads and a quest.
Catherine now lives in Glasgow with her American husband. She has two grown-up children – one of whom lives, very conveniently, in Berlin – and a life long addiction to very loud music.