Title: The Secret Society of Salzburg
Author: Renee Ryan
Major Themes: Opera, Austria, England, World War II, Jewish Holocaust
Synopsis: How can an Austrian opera star and an English typist save Jews during the Holocaust—and how long will it be before they are betrayed?
A few months ago, I was chatting with a friend about books. We agreed that neither of us really likes the Love Inspired books because neither of us likes romance all that much. However, she told me about the new line of Love Inspired that was coming out and that she had heard a lot of good about The Widows of Champagne. I haven’t been able to read that one yet, but when I was offered The Secret Society of Salzburg, also by Renee Ryan, I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did! This was a good book.
Elsa was excited when, as an aspiring young singer in Salzburg, she was given a chance at the leading role in an opera. As she rose to fame, Hattie and her sister Vera, in London, fell in love with her singing. They came to Elsa’s attention when Hattie, an English civil servant and an aspiring artist, gave the opera star a quick sketch she’d made. Over the next few years, Elsa and Hattie became close friends.
As Hitler came to power, Elsa and Hattie both begin to see firsthand the effects his regime was having on the Jews. Neither of the two was able to turn a blind eye, and they found ways to work together to save lives. Meanwhile, Elsa became Hitler’s favorite opera singer. Would that be enough to save her from betrayal? How long could the two do their secret work without being caught?
What a story. So many books about World War II focus on the horrors and atrocities of the Holocaust. While this book has one or two chapters about the Holocaust, the horrors of it do not show up very much. There are a couple of chapters set in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and references to some of the atrocities that happened. However, the bad is not the main focus of this book. Rather the focus is on the women’s friendship and how they worked together to help people. I also liked that romance was not the focus of the story. There is a romance, but it didn’t start until halfway through the story. Instead, the theme is doing what you know is right even if it costs you enormous personal consequences. The Secret Society of Salzburg, I believe, is considered a Christian fiction book, but there is very little that I would consider overtly Christian in it. It is clean with good morals, however.
I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: A kiss is described in chapter 24. In chapter 25, there is a rape. In chapter 30, Hattie thinks about all the lies she and Elsa had told.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults