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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal

Princess Elizabeth (Public Domain Images Wordpress)

This charming mystery grabbed me from the start when feisty Maggie Hope is struggling with the physical requirements of becoming a spy.  Unfortunately, she doesn't have any luck but she feels somewhat better when she is chosen to protect young Princess Elizabeth from a death threat.  Her job is to pretend to be a Maths tutor to the teenage princess at Windsor Castle.

Here she has to stay with a fairly nasty pair of girls (one even has a pet snake), a drunken ex-soldier and various other strange characters.  Although the setting is luxurious, Maggie is certainly within 'a nest of vipers', except for a few exceptions, such as the princesses.  Princess Elizabeth is portrayed as a sweet and bright girl who comes into her own when she has to deal with a terrible situation.

Maggie, a clever American woman, is a likeable and brave heroine.  The other characters are also well-rounded.  I especially liked Hugh, a fellow spy, and Maggie's mysterious father.

Susan Elia MacNeal  captures the era well.  The fear which envelops London, the terrible bombings and even the fog make the reader feel that they're in wartime London.

The luxurious settings are described vividly and I also liked the descriptions of the fashions.  I have been to Windsor and Susan Elia MacNeal made me feel that I was back there when I read her account of it.

I do have a few problems with Princess Elizabeth's Spy, however.  There are lots of plots here and I wonder whether there are too many and the story could have been a bit tighter.

Another minor flaw was some of the language. An English person said that someone had 'passed', meaning he or she had died.  This is an American expression and I found it's use here grating.  It's coming into fashion here, unfortunately, but I always add 'away'.

I am sorry that  I haven't read the first book in this series.  I'll certainly read the next one!

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