Reviewer Conny Withay:Operating her own business in office management since 1991, Conny is an avid reader, volunteers reading the Bible to the elderly, and makes handmade jewelry. A cum laude graduate with a degree in art living in the Pacific Northwest, she is married with two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and one granddaughter.
Author: Susan Meissner
Publisher: New American Library
“I want her to see that I understand there are no secrets to a charmed life. There is just the simple truth that you must forgive yourself for only being able to make your own choices, and no one else’s,” Kendra is told in Susan Meissner’s novel, Secrets of a Charmed Life.
At four hundred and nine pages, this paperback targets those who enjoy World War II stories involving loss, heartbreak, forgiveness, and acceptance. With minor profanity, topics of bombings, death, and war may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes acknowledgments, a conversation with the author, discussion questions, and the author’s biography.
Author Meissner is a former newspaper managing editor and award-winning columnist who lives in San Diego, California, and has been writing novels since 2002.
In this World War II tale that focuses on the past and present in England, American student Kendra Van Zandt has been given the rare opportunity to interview Isabel McFarland about her memories of the war. The aged Isabel invites Kendra to the Thistle House in the Cotswolds to explain what happened to her when the Luftwaffe bombed London in the 1940s.
Meeting the engaging woman, Kendra is told a story of two sisters who had the same mother but different fathers and how being separated during the war changed their lives. With their single mother trying to make ends meet, fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree cared, protected, and loved her seven-year-old sister ardently.
With the Nazis pressing closer to London, the children are sent to the Cotswolds to be protected in foster care by widowed Charlotte and her mentally-challenged sister. With Emmy and her sister having different wants and needs, the two face situations they regret later in their lives.
As Isabel weaves a heartbreaking story of broken individuals who make the wrong choices and have to live with their decisions, she shows how forced reinvention changes people. Thinking they do not deserve happiness due to their past, the sorrowful siblings try to escape feeling like failures, wondering if they robbed the other of a lifetime of joy.
Told with emotional passion, tragic details of war, and the emptiness of separation, the page-turner grasps the reader to step back and take responsibility for only the choices they make, independent of others.
Thanks to Bookpleasures and Penguin for furnishing this complimentary book in exchange for a review based on the reader’s honest opinions.