Cover Image: The Girl from Bletchley Park

The Girl from Bletchley Park

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, skipping from Julia in the present, to her grand mother in the past working at Bletchley Park. It gave a great insight into what it must have been like during the war, and the work that was done at Bletchley Park. Thank you netgalley for the advanced copy of this great story.
Was this review helpful?
“The Girl from Bletchley Park”
By Kathleen McGurl  

Secrets, Spies & Lies

Smart women shine in Kathleen McGurl’s dual timeline family tale of secrets decoded and lies exposed, “The Girl from Bletchley Park.”

All was not as it appeared in the life of 1940s recent high school graduate mathematics whiz kid, Pamela, when she accepted her first job working as a top secret code-breaker for British Intelligence.

She had to lie and tell everyone that she was a secretary because of secrecy.  However, that was what most people would expect from a young woman in the ‘40s since it was “presumed that women could not manage work of any importance.”  Under oath by the Official Secrets Act, even family and friends were forbidden to know the specific nature of her job.  

Pam’s life and heart were soon in peril when she began to question the integrity of the man she loved and thought she would marry.  Could he be a traitor?  A spy?  Had she broken her oath by saying something to him that she shouldn't have?

Years later, her granddaughter, Julia, also a computer specialist, has no idea about her grandmother’s highly classified work during WWII.  Although the two were close during her grandmother's lifetime, Pamela, never discussed her clandestine position—even after the 50-years rule allowing her to speak more freely.

Only by chance, while clearing out some old family possessions, did some photos turned-up showing Grandmother Pam at Bletchley Park the British Intelligence WWII Code-Breaking Center.  From there begins Julie’s family sleuthing expedition to learn all that they can of the family matriarch’s work as as intelligence officer.

Although completely fascinated by the intriguing notion of her grandmother’s wartime activities, Julie's small IT company is extraordinarily busy; her clients need their proposals yesterday; her business partner isn't taking care of the finances properly; she's working tons of hours; her husband is acting suspiciously; and kids feel neglected.  Life is pretty crazy, even for a smart and organized woman like her.

Between trying to balance stresses from work and home, Julie craves the brief respites of quiet time when she can manage to digest the fascinating snippets of information that she receives periodically about her grandmother from a distant cousin’s family records—which are pretty intriguing!

Pamela’s fictional contributions to the war effort in “The Girl from Bletchley Park,” along with those of her friends and colleagues, paint an extraordinary picture of many true geniuses—unsung heroes behind the scenes—that helped shorten the duration of World War II and saved countless lives in the process.  This aspect of the novel I found fascinating and truly inspiring.  

However, the modern-day aspects of this dual timeline story are just a big ‘ol mess of headaches for character Julie.  Of course, her being a supermom and her grandmother's genetic descendant, everything resolves itself pretty quickly.  That being said, I will admit that this storyline does provide some positive and useful information for women going through similar situations.


The Book Maven’s Journal—Reviews for Word Connoisseurs

  STAR RATING            ⭐️⭐️⭐️

“The Girl from Bletchley Park”
Author:  Kathleen McGurl
Genre:     |  Historical Fiction (Adult)  |  Women's Fiction  |  General Fiction 
Publication Date:  02 November 2021                           
Publisher:  HQ An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd.

With Sincerest Appreciation to NetGalley, Author Kathleen McGurl and HQ, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd., for Providing this Advance Reader’s Copy for Review.
Was this review helpful?
What a lovely story and this has made me want to visit Bletchley Park! The past and present storylines that were connected was done very clevery. Thank you to NetGalley and publisher for the opportunity to read this book.
Was this review helpful?
Quite a good historical fiction, the book itself was a little bit shorter than I would have liked but the characters were well written, the only real issue I had was the dual timelines which were interesting but I find I get settled in just one timeline and then start to slip when I have to go back and forth. I liked that Pamela's story was told through her journals and letters this made it more factual for me and shows how much the author has researched, which couldn't have been easy considering how hush hush Bletchley Park is, I do find it fascinating and preferred Pam's story far more than Julia's which I thought was a little dull esp her gambling addict business partner, I didn't feel that really added anything to the story for me. Pam's story line was definitely my favourite line was pretty gritty and interesting though, 

Many thanks to netgalley for this arc in return for my review.
Was this review helpful?

This book is told from the perspective of Pamela Who served during the world war 2 as a Wren and from her granddaughter, Julia who learns of her grandmothers past and was unaware of her secret service during the war. The story transitions easily between the two and is very easy to follow. I have to say that I much more enjoyed Pamela‘s story than Julia‘s. Julia was a bit annoying to me as a character. There is of course a mystery and some plot twist. Overall a good historical fiction/romance.

Thanks to Netgalley for my advanced reader copy.
Was this review helpful?
A time slip novel set during World War Two and the present day. Very well described characters who bring the story to life, a good read.
Was this review helpful?
I had really high hopes for The Girl from Bletchley Park but it let me down a bit I'm sorry to say. The title gave me expectations of a really interesting WW2 story surrounded in complex codes and translations, but the real amount of WW2 in the plot was low. I liked both main characters Pam and Julie, but their lives didn't intersect as much as they could have. Julie was interested in the past, but her current life problems overtook the WW2 aspect. Julie's story could be in a different book with a different plot line, her issues could entertain a different type of reader - just not one looking for interesting WW2 action! Thank you NetGalley & Harper Collins UK for this advanced copy. I wanted to love it but it feel a bit short.
Was this review helpful?
This book was very interesting and well written. I really enjoyed it and read it in under 24 hours. The plot kept me on my toes and I felt so bad for Julia
Was this review helpful?
Ideally I would give this one 3.5. I'm not a big fan of dual timeline books as there's inevitably one which I prefer and it really annoys me when that storyline is left hanging and the action switches to and fro.
Julia is a successful businesswoman and mother, with a less than helpful husband. The tale is really predictable. When Julia discovers that her grandmother had been at Bletchley Park during the war, doing something 'hush hush' she's amazed. Her grandmother Pamela had never spoken of her time there.  Pamela's story is told through old journals and letters that had been found by Julia's brother.  There are some similarities or echoes between the stories of both women who have been betrayed by their partners. This is a well-written book and the author portrays Bletchley Park well, she has obviously visited the place - as I have.
Was this review helpful?
I struggled to read this book, although I did make it to the end, because I found the writing style so pedestrian it was boring to read. A shame, because the Bletchley Park storyline is potentially fascinating. The present day storyline featuring Julia again was written in an uninteresting way. The life-changing events of her business being ruined by a gambling addicted business partner, at the same time as her marriage breaks down, seem to be written off as just a minor blip. Unbelievable and unconvincing on both counts, for me.
Was this review helpful?
A great read set in the present day but with a side story of a family history filled with secrets during WW2. The girl from Bletchley Park stakes on an historical journey during the war years highlighting the secretive work that was carried out by the code breaking men and women. Even when the work there could be spoken about, they chose to retain the mystery and take it to the grave. 

Julia is a business woman, mother and wife, juggling her own company and life whilst trying to keep all happy. However her husband’s mind is elsewhere and her business isn’t what it appears despite being jointly owned with an old friend. When her brother visits and engages her interest in their grandmother’s war work along with an old camera which still has the film inside, Julia’s interest is piqued. What unfolds is a story of intrigue and emotion. 

Will Julia survive what the present throws at her whilst travelling alongside her grandparent’s experiences of WW2?

I really enjoyed this story, however, I feel it ended quite abruptly with all threads tied up in what seemed a rush - would have liked to have heard more how Julia settles into her new regime and perhaps more of a celebration to those who kept the secrets that helped win the war.
Was this review helpful?
As I’m really interested in Bletchley Park and have been there I was delighted to get this book as an ARC. I certainly wasn’t disappointed, I loved this book, I preferred Pamela to Julia but that’s a personal preference. 
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for letting me read this book in exchange for a review. I will put this on Amazon too.
Was this review helpful?
I love the styles of these books, the way past and present are drawn together.
For me, I felt this one was a little different from previous titles from McGurl. I felt the history grabbed me more than the present day story line, the main character in present times not really pulling me in to her story. Previously the two tales have seemed more intertwined with each other and I found myself wanting to read on and read on to find out what all the clues mean. 
However, I really enjoyed the story, learning lots about that era that I did not know about.
Definitely worth a read and I look forward to her next book.
Was this review helpful?
Sworn to secrecy, the ladies of Bletchley park worked with out talking. They left their jobs at the end of the war without talking. Many died without talking. As restrictions have been lifted; the world has praised the women and men of Bletchley Park thanks to stories like this one.

Julia is struggling in her life. Her business and her marriage are in question. She escapes into researching her grandmother's life after developing film from a Brownie camera. With the help of Her grandmother's best friend, Clarissa, Julia unburies a past she did not know existed.

The author allows the reader to discover what happened through the eyes of Julia. Taking a trip to Bletchley Park spurs on her research. There is a data base listing employees and and their role in assisting the war effort.

Reading this book has me wanting to learn more. Reading this book has me wanting to travel to England and explore Bletchley Park, showing respect to those that kept their silence for all those years.
Was this review helpful?
I was given an ARC by the publisher for an honest review.
I wanted to love this book because I love historical fiction and this particular time period so much. However, I've now read several books that follow this dual timeline plot with old photographs and it has become a little tired. I wasn't very interested in Julia as a character. Pamela was a lot more interesting though.
Was this review helpful?
In modern day we meet Julia, a mum who is let down badly by her husband and her business partner both of whom had for years been her rocks.
During the war we meet Pam who joins the Wrens and secures a job at Bletchley Park making a huge difference to the war effort and navigating the perils of young love.
Highly recommend and a 5 star read for me. Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Was this review helpful?
This was a brilliant read and is being featured on my blog for my quick star reviews feature, which I have created on my blog so I can catch up with all the books I have read and therefore review.
Was this review helpful?
Julia is trying to juggle work, life, marriage and motherhood. With little help from her chauvinist husband Marc, or her teenage boys.

When her brother Bob, drops off some items belonging to their grandmother Pamela, she becomes intrigued.

And here we veer off into the dual narrative of Pamela. Recruited as a maths prodigy to work at Bletchley Park in WWII, she is excited to be part of the war effort. And to make friends and find romance.

We switch to and fro between Julia and Pamela, and both storylines are equally absorbing.

As Julia's life implodes, she finds herself increasingly inspired by her grandmother's story which she kept secret all her life.

I really loved flipping between such different worlds, and both stories were fascinating. A bold and courageous Pamela. And a hard-working, kind and brave Julia.

A wonderful story, beautifully written.
Was this review helpful?
If you follow my blog, you will know that I am a big fan of WWII fiction - having a split timeline novel is a great way of reading about something more contemporary whilst also following a story from the past.  Kathleen McGurl has managed to write the dual timeline in a very effective way.  The characters in both timelines are loosely linked, but the stories are obviously so different that there is no room for confusion.  I also liked the fact that she has kept the total number of characters to a minimum.  I sometimes find dual timeline novels a little confusing if there are too many characters involved - I find myself losing the thread of each story, so I am pleased to confirm that this did not happen with The Girl at Bletchley Park!

Bletchley Park thanks to her math skills, she is keen to throw herself into the work knowing that in some small way she will be helping the war effort.  Having signed the Official Secrets Act, Pam takes the confidentiality of her work very seriously, not even discussing what she does with those she works with.  When she meets two young men, both of whom try to catch her eye, she finds herself experiencing freedom and love for the first time.  Working at Bletchley Park could never be that straight forward though!

Julia, Pam's Granddaughter, is struggling to find a good balance in her life, as she tries to look after her sons, maintain a successful business and keep her marriage alive in the face of her husbands jealousy at her success.  When her brother gives her a box of photographs of their late Grandmother, she is keen to find out more about Pam's time at Bletchley Park, something none of them knew anything about.  Finding out more about her Garndmothers incredible life might just help Julia re-evaluate her own life choices.

Park - in so many novels the focus is on frontline fighting, whether that be soldiers or pilots, so it's nice to see the work that was going on behind the scenes being highlighted in this way.  I really enjoyed following the characters in both timelines.  They were believable, well rounded characters for whom I had empathy.  I could really understand Julia's position as a mother, wife and a business woman, and I really felt for her as she fought to create balance between her numerous roles in life.  Pam also really fascinated me - I loved her morals in terms of her commitment to the job as well as her commitment to secrecy.  She understood the importance of her role in the war, and she relished that.

I am more than happy to recommend this novel to you all - it will make you want to learn more about Bletchley Park and its significance in the war effort, whilst also providing you with lovely character stories.
Was this review helpful?
The Girl from Bletchley Park is a combination of historical fiction with some mystery and romance. It’s a story that tells a tale of lies and betrayal through a dual time period narrative. I have read some other of Kathleen’s books and she can always be relied on to present an interesting tale. 

We are all losing the most interesting jobs that we will ever have.

This book is about the famous WWII Bletchley Park - quite a few books have been written about this of late. There is the historical tale during the war and then some eighty years later when the granddaughter discovers lost photos of her grandmother from this wartime period. Dual time narratives are always appealing (two stories) but once again, the historical tale I found to hold more interest for obvious reasons eg. facts about coding in Bletchley Park. Both stories do have a parallel theme running through them about trusting those closest to you. 

‘… do you remember how Grandma used to say no one was better at keeping secrets than her? I wonder if this was what she was referring to - that she’d kept her wartime role secret all those years?’

At times this story is a little slow and I had some frustration with the female leads in both timelines. It’s hard to put a finger on, but the romance/love story and the characters' actions I did not fully connect with. I would have preferred more about the fascinating history of Bletchley Park and less time on relationships. Admittedly, this would have been difficult for Kathleen to write as it was during Covid and she had to rely on online resources. 

The Girl from Bletchley Park will appeal to those who enjoy a dual timeline and the historical mystery that comes with it. Bletchley Park is always an attraction in recognising the many contributions of women to the war effort. 

It’s amazing what they achieved there. They reckon the work that went on at Bletchley Park had a huge impact on the outcome of the war. Imagine being a part of that!

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.
Was this review helpful?