The Secretary by Catherine Hokin

Thank you to Sarah Hardy for the invitation to join the Bookouture blog tour for this historical fiction novel and for a digital review copy to read. The book was published on Monday 24th May in the UK.


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 AuschwitzWe Were the Lucky Ones and The Alice Network.

My thoughts:

As regular readers of my book reviews know, I regularly read and review historical fiction books. The synopsis of this one appealed to me but was actually a very different book to what I had imagined.

This is the story of Magda and her granddaughter Nina. Magda spent the war years trying to help people escape persecution by the Nazi party, whilst in a trusted job for a senior Nazi party member. Years later her granddaughter is trying to escape a different group who were determined to stop the German people from living a full life.

This is an excellent book, full of secrets and twists, featuring two important periods of German history from the last century. It covers some brutal topics, including torture, murder and the death camps.

Both Magda and Nina have to face the loss of loved ones and the cruelty of others, but will they ever be able to trust each other with their secrets? A dark and thought provoking novel about two brave women who try to make a difference. I look forward to reading more by Cathy Hokin in the future.

Author Bio:

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.

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By Karen K is reading

An avid reader from the age of 4. Love escaping into a good novel after a busy day working with students. Mum. Adopter of dogs.

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