Cover Image: The Girl from Bletchley Park

The Girl from Bletchley Park

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Member Reviews

Audio ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

My personal rating of the book: 2 stars

Rating based on quality of the writing etc: 3 stars

I was invited to read this book and the cover, title and to an extent the blurb, led me to believe this would be far more historical fiction than it was. In actual fact, this is commercial women's fiction with one of the two pov narratives in period costume. There is nothing wrong with commercial women's fiction but it's not something I would have ever chosen to read willingly. Instead of details about the codebreaking efforts at Bletchley Park and a more cerebral portrayal of WWII Britain with good historical detail, everything was left very vague or really dumbed down. This was echoed in the modern era where the MC is a brilliant computer code writer with a successful business...which is kept very vague and really dumbed down.

 

In the end, the very things that will make it appeal to fans of CWF - the underdeveloped MCs that can be used as masks to experience the story, the convenient (contrived) plotpoints, the low level conflict and tension and the utter certainty that everything will be fine - are what made me dislike the book. So once again, I am not the target audience. I found both Pam - a supposed maths genius destined for Oxford university - and Julia, successful business woman who is supposed to be a code wizard, unbelievably stupid. It's obvious what's going in with pretty much every other character in this book but especially the male leads. The two teen sons are ridiculously understanding and well behaved - to the point where I wondered if there was a bodysnatchers subplot.

 

Anyway, I can see that while not written for me, it handles the tropes of the genre and the desires of its target audience well. I wish it had been marketed with more accuracy but I imagine there is a huge audience out there who will love this. Which doesn't unfortunately include me.
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I requested this ARC on a bit of a whim and I am so glad it did. 

Firstly I love the two parralel stories, and Pam really feels like someone I’d like to have known - the history she would have known! It follows Pam who works at Bletchley as a code breaker and her granddaughter Julia who is running her own business and struggling with the life / work balance.

I haven’t read too many war time novels but the lives of those at Bletchley park is honestly fascinating.

I couldn’t put this down. Thank you to the author and NetGalley for this ARC
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The Girl from Bletchley Park is very.... tidy. That's the best way for me to explain it. 

The novel is a dual-timeline story following both Pamela Jackson starting in 1943 and Julia (I'm not sure we're ever told her surname) starting in 2019. Pam is Julia's grandmother on her mum's side, and despite being separated by a generation and wildly different worlds, their stories follow a very uncanny similarity. 

Pam is getting ready to graduate and is set to start at Oxford University, a much deserved spot for her mathematics intellect. She resolves to defer her admission to instead assist in the war effort for Britain and winds up at Bletchley Park working to decode German messages. Her primary work is with the Colossus machine, an often overlooked machine at BP compared to Alan Turing's Enigma; however, most of her story follows her relationship with Frank Miller and her friends Clarissa, Norah, and Edwin. She is stepping out with Frank throughout the majority of her first year at BP. 

Julia is an incredibly successful woman, who owns her own IT business with one of her best friends, Ian. Julia's husband (Marc) is jealous of her breadwinning ability and frequently makes his opinions known - quite frankly, Marc sucks. Julia is constantly struggling with whether she is doing the right thing, doing enough for her family, and rarely finds time for herself. 

Overall, I did really enjoy the book. There were a lot of different conflicts going on (Julia + Marc; Julia + Ian; Pam + Frank; Frank + Edwin; Geoff + Clarissa; Julia wanting to know about her grandmother; WWII; and more) and many different stories that needed to be closed out. Each and every one did get closed out, in a very tidy way. For example, how convenient that Bob (Julia's brother) had just been to Bletchley Park and recognized the dome in the photographs. Or that Julia did not pay attention to the Company's finances. Or that Pam left her gas mask on the bus and Frank tracked it down. So many points in the story were convenient in how they worked out that I felt like I was able to predict a lot of it. 

That said, even with being able to anticipate what was coming, I couldn't put it down and I had to keep reading. I liked the story and will probably seek out more of Kathleen McGurl in the future.
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The Girl from Bletchley Park by Kathleen McGurl

In WW2 Pam defers her place at Oxford to study maths and is recruited to become a codebreaker at Bletchley Park.  She falls in love with a man who isn't what he seems and finds herself in a very dangerous predicament.  In the present day Julia is struggling to cope with a business, 2 children and a distant husband.  When her brother gives her some photos of their grandmother she is intrigued by the story of her secret past.

This was a fabulous book!  Both women's stories were intriguing and kept me turning the pages.  I've read a lot of books about Bletchley Park and this one was fantastic.  Very highly recommended!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book.
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I've always been fascinated by the women who worked at Bletchley Park. They were intelligent, brave, and determined. This book does a wonderful job at depicting that while holding you captive with the fascinating story. I did like the historical part better than the present part, but it was a very enjoyable read.
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I really enjoyed this story told from the two perspectives of a woman and her grandmother. Both stories were interesting with the exploration of modern working motherhood and the fascinating tale of the work at Bletchley Park drying the War. I did find the writing a little stilted at times but it was an interesting read.
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The Girl From Bletchley Park is a riveting story about the strength and achievements of two women in the face of danger and heartbreak. Two timelines – 1942 and the present – run in parallel to tell a story of determination, dedication, sacrifice, and hardships.

Julia, an entrepreneur juggling a jealous husband and two children, discovers her grandmother’s (Pam) role at Bletchley Park through some old photographs and a memoir written by Pam’s friend. As she pieces together the fascinating story of Pam’s contribution to WWII, she also fixes her increasingly off-kilter marriage in the process.

The author has researched her story well. The technical details of code-breaking machines used during WWII are fascinating yet simple to understand. The idea that women aren’t good at mathematics or STEM subjects or cannot have a successful career is blown to smithereens.

The men attempt to use the women to further their own goals but are surprised to find that they cannot be as easily manipulated as they thought.

I loved all aspects of this book – the intimate look inside the workings of Bletchley Park, the tug-of-war between people, and the triumph of love and loyalty over greed and deceit.

(I received an ecopy from Rachel at Rachel’s Random’s Resources with a request for an honest review.)
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Set during WWII and present day.  Julia and Marc have 2 sons, they both have busy lives she with her own IT business and he is also in IT though doesn't earn as much as Julia, a bone of contention,  Julia is also extremely busy with her business and the 2 boys.  Marc appears to  be of the mindset that Julia does all the domestic chores plus child care. Julia's brother Bob has inherited their Grandmother's home.and turns up with some old photos of their Grandmother Pamela.  Julia does some investigating into Pamela's past through an old friend of Pamela's and is surprised to find how involved her Grandmother was with the Bletchley Park code breaking team.  There is a great story of the time during WWII with the Wrens involved at Bletchley, with romances and life in general.
The other part of the story with Julia and Marc is sad as their marriage and her business fall apart.  He had an affair and Julia's business partner gambled all the money away and so they had to put the business through insolvency proceedings. Julia and Marc split up "amicably", selling the house and she gets another job, working near to home to be able to spend more time with her boys.  
A charming entertaining read exploring the lessons to be learnt from not watching the financial side of your business, your job taking all your time away from family life, and how people coped during WWII.
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I like a dual narrative. For this novel Julia is running a business and juggling family life when she discovers her grandmother's old camera and photographs. Recognising the building it becomes clear that her grandmother Pam worked at Bletchley Park during the war. As this was obviously a secret she is dying to find out more. 

Switch to Pam's narrative and she defers her place at university studying maths in order to join the code breakers at Bletchley. So far so good. But for both characters life gets more complicated and possibly dangerous than they expected. 

I enjoyed both sides of this novel, Julia's relationships and stresses are well described. Pam's excitement about her work and the secrecy that surrounds it contrasts nicely. The ending dies feel a little rushed and also a bit clichéd perhaps but it's definitely an enjoyable read
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A business owner discovers her grandmother's secret work at Bletchley Park. This novel is split between the 2 women's worlds, with tension and drama at both levels. Very readable and a real page-turner.
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Julia has an IT company and runs it with business partner and best friend, Ian. She loves her job but sometimes deadlines mean that her work life balance get blurred. Her family, husband Marc and teenage children are getting a bit fed up about this.
One day her brother Bob brings her so old photos that he finds in the attic of her family home. In it there are photos of her grandparents and she finds out that her gran, Pamela, used to work at Bletchley Park.
Pamela's story runs alternately with Julia's.
Interesting but fairly predictable storyline. I felt it lacked depth
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The Girl from Bletchley Park is a detailed well thought out story that takes the reader on a journey of action and adventure from the first page...
I like how McGurl has created an engaging plot with great amount of research and interesting information about codebreakers...
The character development of The Girl from Bletchley Park is good. The characters are relatable and realistic. Julia juggles life at home and been self employed. Pamela is highly intelligent and ends up been apart of the secret effort to help the war. Marc's negative attitude brought up major red flags. 
I would recommend reading The Girl from Bletchley Park to lovers of Women's Fiction and Historical Fiction, as it is a compelling and emotional character driven story that has secrets,  friendship and betrayal!
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The Girl From Bletchley Park - Kathleen McGurl

1942. Three years into the war, Pam turns down her hard-won place at Oxford University to become a codebreaker at Bletchley Park. There, she meets two young men, both keen to impress her, and Pam finds herself falling hard for one of them. But as the country’s future becomes more uncertain by the day, a tragic turn of events casts doubt on her choice – and Pam’s loyalty is pushed to its limits…
 
Present day. Julia is struggling to juggle her career, two children and a husband increasingly jealous of her success. Her brother presents her with the perfect distraction: forgotten photos of their grandmother as a young woman at Bletchley Park. Why did her grandmother never speak of her time there? The search for answers leads Julia to an incredible tale of betrayal and bravery – one that inspires some huge decisions of her own…

I really enjoyed this book, I raced through it in a day. It’s fast paced and keeps you intrigued. I liked the characters, Julia is harrangued right from the start and I  thought ‘I know this woman’s life!’ within 2 pages and wanted to shout at her family to get off their arses!
Pamela was a warmer character to me, clearly younger and more naive in some ways than Julia and she has more of the ‘adventure’ of the book. 

I really like the dual timeline aspect and it’s what often draws me to historical fiction but the problem is that one often feels stronger. In this book however, it was pretty evenly weighted. At the beginning, the earlier timeline with Pamela felt stronger, I connected more with the characters. The modern day timeline frustrated me a bit, and I felt I could spot the plot points coming. However, this did not detract from a great story and later I was hooked and cheering on both Julia and Pamela. Like a good puzzle it was a satisfying read as all the pieces slotted into place. There is plenty of love, betrayal and heartbreak and I found the little bit of an inside look at Bletchley Park fascinating - I have visited many years ago and now definitely want a return trip!

✩✩✩✰

[AD-PR Product]

Thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources @hqstories for my copy of this ebook and spot on the tour
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following the lives of the girls that worked in secret at Bletchley Park within the war years. Also it shows family life of those who are related to those girls but in the present tense. Bletchley was a very important part of the war and if you haven't been there I recommend that you go after reading this book, you will find it very interesting. It may even help you to visit there first so that you have an insight to the book.  Very well written and explained and well worth a read.  5 stars 

Thanks to Netgalley and publisher for this eARC
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A brilliant novel with WW2 theming set alongside present day.  When an old Box Brownie camera belonging to her Grandmother is given to Julia  a story of code-breaking and Bletchley Park is discovered.  The camera still has film in it and upon developing Julia begins the task of unraveling her Grandmother's early life and discovering the  part she played in code breaking during the war.  Whilst in the middle of this, Julia's life is dissolving around her, her boys do nothing around the house, her husband is absent a lot of the time and her business partner is pilfering their accounts.  The story is heartbreak and happiness rolled into one.  A delightful book that I couldn't put down.
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Better late than never! Thanks go to the publisher and NetGalley for the complimentary digital copy of The Girl From Blethley Park. I voluntarily agreed to read and review around the publication date. My opinions are my own, and nothing has influenced my rating of this book.

The Girl From Blethley Park is a well written novel set in England during WWII. The pacing is steady and held my attention. The characters are engaging and the plot is intriguing.

This novel is told through the POV of Julia and Pamela. Julia is Pamela’s granddaughter and is reading her diary during her grandmother’s time spent at Blethley Park during the war. Each chapter title moves the story from present day to Pamela’s time. The transition is smooth and didn’t pull me from the story.

Pamela’s tale is intriguing and added greatly to my overall enjoyment of the book. Her work for the war effort gave me another look into the hows and whys of WWII. England was directly impacted by that horrific war. While this novel doesn’t focus on the bombs exploding over England, it gave me plenty of insight into the difficulties England endured.

Julia’s story is different. She’s a mother and a wife and has her own company. Her time is divided between her home obligations and her devotion to her business. As with many in her situation, either her work suffers or her relationships with her family. For me, I could understand her struggling since I too have gad to divide my time between my work and my husband. I could identify with her dilemma.

This is a novel dealing with issues women face today and started when women entered the workforce during WWII. Women then and today , must joggle devotion to family and obligations to their career much more than men. While it’s much better today as men accept a woman’s right to have important careers, there is still an inequality between them. Perhaps as the current generation becomes adults this will no longer be a problem.

If you enjoy women’s fiction and historical fiction then you will like The Girl From Blethley Park as much as I did. Happy reading!
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A gifted maths student in 1942, Pamela decides to defer her place at Oxford and instead take up the opportunity to contribute to the war effort by working as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park. Her granddaughter Julia, running her successful software development company in the present day alongside the demands of her family, knew nothing about Pamela’s history until she found an undeveloped film on a Box Brownie camera, and – with the help of a memoir written by her grandmother’s friend Clarissa – the long-hidden secrets of her wartime life begin to emerge.

Meanwhile, Julia’s own life is rather falling apart – a husband who resents her being the main breadwinner, a family who expect her to do everything around the home on top of her long working days, and problems emerging about her company’s cashflow. Following Pamela’s fascinating history provides her with some escape from her day-to-day problems, and a story emerges of danger and betrayal, a young girl who finds herself caught up in the excitement of a new relationship and ignoring the warning signs.

A dual time story is always something the author does so very well – she has the gift of giving both threads equal weight, making both stories strong and engaging, always with clever mirroring between both threads. The behind-the-scenes view of Bletchley Park’s operations is superbly done, through the eyes and experiences of a young woman entering a world she initially knows nothing about – there’s the joy of new friends, the frisson of new romance, anticipation about the social life available, but also the emphasis on the need to be alert to any risks to security as their day-to-day activities play their part in changing the course of the war. The emphasis in other books I’ve read about Bletchley Park has always been on Turing and Enigma, and it was particularly fascinating to find out more about Colossus – with that nice mirroring when viewing it as an early form of computer, when Julia’s work in IT shows how far technology has moved on.

I must admit that – at first – I was slightly less engaged by the present day story. I’m rarely a fan of reading about the world of work, and there was an early emphasis on the ups and downs of Julia’s business – and I did struggle to like her, finding her particularly prickly at times, rather rubbing everyone’s nose in how successful she was. But as the story progressed, I found myself increasingly in her corner, liking her considerably more – and she certainly shows great strength in working through the issues that beset her. The family set-up is particularly well drawn – husband Marc’s absence of support or engagement (what an infuriating man!) and the two young sons who step up to the plate when their help is needed.

But I entirely loved every twist and turn of the wartime story – Pamela is eminently likeable, and having just left school suitably innocent and naive. There’s a nice focus on the changing roles of women, I very much enjoyed her friendships (Clarissa is a particularly strong character), and her story certainly had me on the edge of my seat at times.

As always, I really enjoyed the author’s story telling – this book is an easy read, but well-paced and compelling, and its dual time structure well-handled to keep the pages turning, immersing you in the secrets of the past while keeping you wholly engaged with the present. A very enjoyable read, and something just a little different from the author’s usual writing – definitely recommended by me.
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Another great book from Kathleen McGurl in her time slip frame.
During the Second World War Pam worked at Bletchley Park as one of the descriptors who were responsible for shortening the war. This due to signing the  official secrets act was never l own by her family.
Present day her granddaughter Julia is given a pile of old pictures and letters of Pam’s and then becomes the journey of finding out what Pam did in the war.
Running along side this is the story of Julia and how she deals with the traumas of her life.
Great read
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Book Review “The Girl from Bletchley Park” by Kathleen Mcgurl
NOVEMBER 10, 2021 ~ NIKIPRESTON 
The Girl from Bletchley Park

A country at war. A heartbreaking betrayal.

1942. Three years into the war, Pam turns down her hard-won place at Oxford University to become a codebreaker at Bletchley Park. There, she meets two young men, both keen to impress her, and Pam finds herself falling hard for one of them. But as the country’s future becomes more uncertain by the day, a tragic turn of events casts doubt on her choice – and Pam’s loyalty is pushed to its limits…

Present day. Julia is struggling to juggle her career, two children and a husband increasingly jealous of her success. Her brother presents her with the perfect distraction: forgotten photos of their grandmother as a young woman at Bletchley Park. Why did her grandmother never speak of her time there? The search for answers leads Julia to an incredible tale of betrayal and bravery – one that inspires some huge decisions of her own…

REVIEW ~ NIKI PRESTON ~ 5 STARS

This is one of those books that grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go until the very last page. I adore Historical drama and especially anything surrounding Bletchley. I am utterly fascinated by it and what occurred there. This is a wonderful insight into how women were enlisted into roles and really helps you see just how hard it must have been to keep their work private. the constant worry that they might have let something slip.

The story telling across time is superb and the fact that Julia, in the present day finds out that her Grandmother worked at Bletchley park is a great addition to the way the plot unravels. She sees her in a totally different light. I found Pam to be an astute woman who really wants to do something for her country during the war. She wants to make a difference and maybe find a little love along the way. Pam almost lets her emotions get the better of her when she falls for a handsome gardener. Is he all he makes out to be, just a little bit too good? Alarm bells rang for me immediately when he starts asking Pam about her job, his moods change quickly and soon becomes very much more than Pam thinks.

Julia works hard in her own business seemingly to the detriment of her two boys and husband. When she discovers the history of her grandmother Pam, she really begins to look inward and wonders if she’s doing the right things in her life. Then she is let down in catastrophic ways by the two most important men in her life.

I savoured every historical word in The Girl from Bletchley Park. The pace is excellent and holds your interest. Moving between past and present day works excellently and only adds to hold your attention right until the end. A thoroughly moving and gripping story that I would highly recommend to any War time drama lovers such as myself.


Author Bio – Kathleen McGurl lives near the coast in Christchurch, England. She writes dual timeline novels in which a historical mystery is uncovered and resolved in the present day. She is married to an Irishman and has two adult sons. She enjoys travelling, especially in her motorhome around Europe.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/KathleenMcGurl
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I would like to thank #NetGalley and the #HQDigital for letting me read #TheGirlFromBletchleyPark. 
This book travels back and forth between World War 2 and the present day. 
Pam’s granddaughter is passed a box of memorabilia that her brother as come across decluttering their grandparents house. 
There is an old box brownie camera with some undeveloped film, and when Julia has it developed she finds photos of her gran in fromt of an old Manor House that her brother recognises as Bletchley Park. 
The book as alternating chapters exploring both Pam and Julia’s lifes. 
A really good read .
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