Drawing on the letters and diaries of her parents, Debbie Rix’s new novel, The Secret Letter, follows English Imogen and German Magda as they deal with the heartache and terror of living in countries impacted by the Second World War.

Early in the war, Imogen is evacuated to the Lake District away from her family and the threat of the Blitz. Later, she joins up to serve as a Wren. Magda’s experience in southern Germany is much more terrifying. As National Socialism becomes entrenched in her country, her friend is taken away by the Nazis for nothing other than being Jewish. Everyone around her seems to be enthralled by Hitler, while she despises everything about him. Through a friend, at the University of Munich, she is introduced to the White Rose movement, a non-violent resistance group made up largely of students, and ends up helping an English pilot stranded behind enemy lines at great risk to herself and her loved ones. Although on different sides of enemy lines, Imogen and Magda’s lives are intertwined.

This is a page turner, Rix skilfully evoking the reality of war and the toll that an insidious regime takes on both its citizens and those under threat from it. At the heart of it though is the question of how we choose to behave in dire times: do we step up and be counted or quietly watch from the sidelines as evil is done? And yet, surely ‘our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter’? The dilemma of our current times.



The Secret Letter | Debbie Rix | Bookouture | ebook |

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Acknowledgements: Quote attributed to Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. This review is published as part of the publisher virtual book tour. Please check out the other participants. Many thanks to Kim Nash and Noelle Holton at Bookouture. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved.


Also of interest:Karl Tearney’s Second Life, healing a torn mind‘; ‘The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone’; ‘By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘Permission by Saskia Vogel‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘The beauty of Tom Cox’s personal landscape‘; ‘Call Me Star Girl’;Falling from the Floating World‘; ‘Blood Orange’; ‘Lisa Ko’s The Leavers, Dialogue’s brilliant debut; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;RW Kwon’s The Incendiaries’; ‘Beautiful words – The Language of Secrets‘; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir‘; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

Select Q&As/interviews: ‘Meet Paul E. Hardisty’;‘Lilja Sigurðardóttir’; ’Tom Cox’; ‘Vanda Symon; ‘Gunnar Staalesen’; Some like it hot – the joy of Carole Mortimer, award-winning novelist‘; Gina Kirkham;John Fairfax’; ‘Ian Ridley’; ‘David Stuart Davies’.


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