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Review: The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

Title: The Rose Code

AuthorKate Quinn

Year Published: 2021

Category: Adult fiction (historical fiction
Pages: 656
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map) UK

Summary (from Amazon): 1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.

1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter--the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger--and their true enemy--closer...

Review: I really enjoyed Kate Quinn's The Alice Network and had heard good things about this one, too, so was looking forward to it and it did not disappoint. I find the Bletchley stories fascinating and this novel was right up my alley and I enjoyed it a lot. In fact, so much that I read the over-600 page book in 2 days.

This novel has everything I like in a read: historical fiction (with an amazing, long Author Note at the end showing how much of it is true-to-life), lots of characters who are flawed, but believable, a sense of secrets or mystery and intrigue, and good writing.

Have you read this novel? I love that it has strong, smart women going important work. Yes, there are romance elements and cultural bits and pieces, and I feel these parts make the story full, and not just about war work.

I can also totally see this as a movie or Netflix series. I enjoyed the movie The Imitation Game (link to trailer), which focused on Alan Turning and his work at Bletchley. And, I've read My Secret Life in Hut Six by Mair and Gethin Russell-Jones, which tells the story of their mother, Mair Thoms, who was a family friend of my mother's family in south Wales. Mair was chosen to work at Bletchley like many women: she was spotted in public doing very well at crossword puzzles.

Challenges for which this counts:
  • Alphabet (author): Q
  • Historical fiction
  • Popsugar--longest book (in pages) on my TBR

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