Two time periods interweave: World War II and Berlin 1989.
Magda works as the PA for an industrialist who looks like an ardent Nazi. She is a resistance worker but her boss shows her there is another way of lessening the effects of the Holocaust. It is more productive and less risky. Several workers are given false identities and marked as essential workers. There are echoes here of Schindler’s List.
Magda takes many risks even so. In addition to the normal work she hides several Jewish families. Her lover is killed.
After the war ends Magda lives in East Germany. It is her own granddaughter, Nina, who finds out at the time of the fall of the Berlin wall, when she visits the house in the west where Magda used to live, that her grandmother is hiding many secrets.
Magda has made an enemy of her boss’s daughter, Elsa, and that enmity still exists in 1989. Can the truth come out?
The Secretary by Catherine Hokin is fast-paced, particularly towards the end, and for those interested in the era, contains much useful historical material.