'The Secret Letter' Book Review

Updated: May 24, 2020

Book: The Secret Letter

Author: Debbie Rix

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 424 (Kindle)

Published: July 2019 (UK)

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Good evening all, today’s book review is of Debbie Rix’s book ‘The Secret Letter’.

This book reminded me why I love historical fiction!


Germany, 1939: Thirteen-year-old Magda is devastated by the loss of her best friend, shy and gentle Lotte, cruelly snatched from her and sent to a concentration camp – the Star of David sewn on her faded, brown coat. As the Nazi’s power takes hold, Magda realizes she’s not like the other girls in her village - she hates the fanatical new rules of the Hitler Youth. So Magda secretly joins The White Rose movement and begins to rebel against the oppressive, frightening world around her. But when an English RAF pilot lands in a field near Magda’s home she is faced with an impossible choice: to risk the lives of her family or to save a stranger and make a difference in the war she desperately wants to end.

England, 1939: Fifteen-year-old Imogen is torn from her family and evacuated to the Lake District, a haven of safety away from the war raging across Europe. All she has to connect her to the bombs and the battles are the letters she writes to her loved ones. Little does she know, on the other side of the enemy line, her fate rests on the actions of one girl who will change her life forever… (From Goodreads - Link)


To add to the synopsis above, this book alternates between two young girls, Magda and Imogen, and their experiences during WWII. The book begins as Imogen receives a letter from her old friend Magda and begins to reflect upon their separate childhoods and experiences in the war. Imogen recounts her life growing up in England and being evacuated to the safety of the Lake District. Once she leaves school, the book continues her journey working in top secret projects to help end the war. Meanwhile, young German girl Magda is inspired by her brother's actions to join the protest against the Hitler youth and Nazis. Both very different experiences, but both inspiring and powerful. With adventure, risk and love, this book takes the reader through two separate experiences of the war.

Structurally, I quite liked the way it was written - some chapters did end on a bit of a cliff-hanger and kept me wanting more. Admittedly, I preferred Magda’s story to Imogen’s as there was more action and the character felt more ‘real’. Although the book started slowly, with the slightly overly descriptive childhood experiences being quite long-drawn out, the book became more interesting as they both left school.

The characterisation was good also. Madga's character was wonderful, very inspiring, out-spoken and dared to question the Nazis on many occasions. Imogen was perhaps a little childish throughout and there wasn't much character development surrounding her. We find snippets of information about the other characters as they come and go - as you'd expect in war! While Imogen's and Madga's are separate, they intertwine through the people they meet and it quickly becomes an interesting read on the two character's attitudes towards the war and their individual efforts to put a stop to it.

It is revealed at the end in the author’s note that the story is based on fact. Many of Imogen's and Magda's character qualities and experiences were inspired from Rix’s own parents, which makes it an extra special read! A beautiful, moving book which I would recommend to fans of historical fiction, particularly WWII fiction. While it's extremely important not to forget all of the soldiers who fought in the world wars, it was inspiring also to read of women's experiences during this time.

While I did enjoy this book, I only give it three out of five stars. This is because although it was inspiring and incredible, I didn't connect with it enough and therefore wouldn't read it again. Have you read ‘The Secret Letter’? What do you think?

Take care, Sophie x

Disclaimer: As mentioned in my 'Terms and Conditions' page, I am not asked to write my book reviews, contacted by the author/publisher in any way nor have I been given anything in exchange for my reviews, unless otherwise stated.

'The Secret Letter' - Debbie Rix

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