This moving story starts in 1943 in Salzburg, Austria when opera star Elsa Mayer-Braun is arrested moments before performing and is accused of treason against the Third Reich. Back in 1934, Elsa met Londoner Hattie Featherson and her sister Vera while on tour after the sisters had made the acquaintance of Elsa's great aunt Malvina Kremer-Lehman. Aspiring artist Hattie becomes entranced by Elsa's music, and it inspires her own artwork. As a close friendship develops between Elsa and Hattie, the sisters help Elsa protect her Jewish aunt as antisemitism continues to rise. And soon, Elsa and Hattie create a network for rescuing Jewish Germans from being persecuted, helping them escape to England. Once their plan is uncovered and Elsa is arrested, she fears it was her Nazi sympathizer husband Wilhelm Hoffman who has betrayed her.
The Secret Society of Salzburg is a highly engaging story inspired by the real-life story of the daring Cook sisters, Ida and Louise, who rescued twenty-nine Jews from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Author Renee Ryan's well-researched book takes place during a terrible period in history yet offers an inspiring story set during the darkest of times. I read so many books that have taken place during this period that having a backdrop within the world of the arts added to its appeal. And while the tragedy of the times is presented, the focus is on the strength and resiliency of the main characters and their friendship.
Many thanks to the author for providing me with an advance copy. Historical fiction fans of this period will want to check it out.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: December 27, 2022.
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