Thursday, March 19, 2015

Secrets of a Charmed Life

I'm not telling secrets today. Well okay, I'm telling one: I. Loved. This. Book.

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner charmed me.

One girl chases her dreams. The other girl chases her sister. When the war tears them apart, each must learn to live with the guilt of her actions on that fateful day - the day the Luftwaffe began bombing London in WWII.

Meissner delves deep into the psyche of two sisters who are evacuated from London to the Cotwolds. It’s fascinating to think about all the children who lived for up to five years with foster families during the war. Many of them lost their parents. Many returned to their parents after the war as strangers. And other children were taken to America for the duration of the war.

This story gives beautiful and terrible details about the London bombing, and most critically, how difficult it was to find loved ones during the war. Some records were destroyed in bombings. Telephone service was rare. Today we merely call the person we need to find, or Google them or text or email. Back then, if the single paper record was burned in a fire, the record was lost for good, along with the details of that person’s whereabouts. Or sometimes one person would leave word with another person about where they were going. If the one person they told happened to die in a bombing, so did the information. People seemed to disappear during the war, and in many cases it took years for people to reconnect. Entire streets were bombed out, causing many to become homeless overnight. Every person sought refuge where they could find it, but with no address, people were difficult to track.

The story winds its way amidst the years of the war, the twenty years following the war, and present day. The ripple effect of a single decision plays out in heartbreaking fashion as we follow characters whose fates are bound to one another, even while cruelly separated.

I hope you’ll give this book a try. The emotional ride is worth every minute you spend curled up, bent over this treasure.


  1. This book sounds fascinating. So much to learn about the time period & circumstances.

  2. My in-laws were children in Liverpool and experienced evacuation and coming home twice to a destroyed home. I'd like to understand what they went through, although I'm sure it may be a difficult read. Thanks for sharing this book.

  3. Susan Meissner is one of my favorite authors so I'll definitely want to read this. Thank you, Jennifer!

  4. Sounds fascinating. I'm a fan of Susan Meissner anyway so I look forward to reading this book.

  5. This book sounds Charming! It's going on my TBR list :)