Cover Image: The Girl from Bletchley Park

The Girl from Bletchley Park

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

4.5 Stars

A richly woven tapestry of love, loyalty and secrets, Kathleen McGurl’s The Girl from Bletchley Park will beguile, delight and enthrall fans of timeslip novels everywhere.

In 1942, Pam had decided to turn down a hard-won place at Oxford University to become a codebreaker at Bletchley Park. Although deciding not to go to university was a difficult decision, Pam couldn’t stand idly by while her country was ravaged by Hitler’s bombs and she hoped that by doing her duty for king and country, she would be helping England to win the war. However, Pam never imagined that at Bletchley she would meet two men who would change the entire course of her life. When she finds herself drawn to one of them, Pam thinks that her happiness is at long last within reach – until a tragic turn of events ends up pushing her loyalty to its limits.

In the present day, Julia is in desperate need of a distraction. Having to juggle the demands of her challenging career with two children and a husband resentful of her success, when her brother presents her with forgotten photos of her grandmother as a young woman at Bletchley Park, Julia jumps at the chance to discover more about that period of her life. Her grandmother never spoke of her time there leading Julia to wonder just what her grandmother was hiding. As Julia begins to dig into the past, she discover a story of courage, bravery, treachery and betrayal that becomes increasingly prescient and that forces her to take a long, hard look at her own life.

At a crossroads, will Julia be inspired by her grandmother to make some drastic changes to her life? Or will fear and uncertainty force her to repeat past mistakes that will leave her mired in anguish and regret?

Kathleen McGurl is a gifted storyteller who writes sweeping tales readers cannot help but completely lose themselves in and The Girl from Bletchley Park is an astute, absorbing and engrossing tale with two strong women at its heart who will take readers on an emotional and enthralling journey that will tug at the heartstrings and bring a tear to their eye.

A captivating novel about impossible sacrifices, devastating choices and the power of love, The Girl from Bletchley Park is another surefire hit for Kathleen McGurl.
Was this review helpful?
When brother Bob gives Julia a box
A mystery from their gran's past it unlocks.
Sending Julia on a quest to discover more
About her gran, Pam, and what happened before.

Sometimes looking to the past
Can help you decide what to do at last.
This is a dual timeline family tale
Where about their lives Julia and Pam each regale.

It gives an insight into events in the war
As some secrets were kept forever more
But secrets are also kept in the present
Their revelations may cause dissent.

This is a family drama in two different times
But both involve betrayal and crimes.
I found it a real page turner, a fascinating read,
One that had me hoping these ladies would succeed!

I thoroughly enjoyed this gorgeous read
If you try it I'm sure you'll accede.
This author is the dual timeline queen
Writing the best in this genre that I've seen.

For my complementary copy of this book, I say thank you,
I throughly enjoyed reading it and this is my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Loved it!
I always feel that I am getting two stories for the price of one with a duel timeline book.
During the Second World War Pam joins the staff at the codebreaking Bletchley Park.  Here she finds love and treachery, friendship and heartache.
in 2019 her grand daughter Julia, a high flying executive, discovers that her grandmother was one of Bletchley Park's workers.  But why had this been kept a secret?
I found myself immersed in this book whilst the jobs piled up. Needed to find out the complete stories
Was this review helpful?
This is a dual timeline story set in WW2 and 2019, explores the world of codebreakers at Bletchley Park and the life of a twenty-first-century business owner. Recruited to work as a wartime codebreaker Pamela is intelligent but naive. Successful business owner Julia fights a constant work-life battle without any significant help from her husband. The two women's stories converge as both face betrayal and heartbreak.

Full of intriguing historical details and contemporary issues, this is an engaging read. Both stories are immersive and enhance each other, producing a story full of family drama, friendship and secrets.

I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
The Girl from Bletchley Park is an intriguing dual timeline story set in England in the present day, and the early 1940s. The two strands are highly engaging and keep your attention throughout.

In the contemporary part, we have Julia – a successful businesswoman, wife and mother of two teenage boys. But her success comes at a price. She has little time for her family, and with neither her husband nor the boys helping much with the household chores, she is a woman rushed off her feet 24/7. I seriously felt for her. 

In the historical part, we discover Pamela's story who, as it turns out, is Julia's grandmother. Pamela is a genius at maths, due to go to Oxford to study, so when her name is put forward for a position at secretive Bletchley Park, she regards it as her chance to do her bit for the country. Like her brother, Geoff, who is training to become a pilot. 

Pamela is a forward thinking young woman. She plans to use her intelligence to work, rather than setting up home straight after university, much to her mother's disappointment. She's very proud, though, when she joins the Wrens.

Pamela quickly settles in at Woburn Abbey, sharing a dormitory with other young women, and soon sets to work at Bletchley Park. Having to sign the Official Secrets’ Act, she knows it's more than just secretarial work they do – their excuse to anyone asking what they're doing. With the help of the creaking, but still perfectly working machines, they soon begin deciphering coded messages from German high command. 

When Pamela meets Frank, the only gardener at Woburn who was exempted for his asthma, she finds herself falling in love. His easy-going attitude draws her in. But over the course of their courtship, she discovers another side of his character – and one that begins to gnaw at her. But are her suspicions right?

Meanwhile, Julia is struggling to combine her two lives, and her husband, Marc, leaves out no chance to remind her, even though he enjoys the money she brings in – more than his salary – and their nice, big home. But then, things start to unravel, first at work, then at home. Can Julia save her business and her home life?

Both stories in The Girl from Bletchley Park are full of twists and turns. Pamela's world also carries a constant sense of danger, as attacks could happen every day, whilst Julia's shows the pressure many women who juggle family life and a successful business or career in our present day. 

Both women are strong characters, yet also dependent on others around them. Pamela's love interest seems secure, yet when her doubts creep in, she feels torn. I must admit I saw it coming when Frank was first described (a bit of a cliché, and a giveaway, in my view),  but Pamela's hesitance in revealing her new-found knowledge is still believable. 

Julia's husband, Marc, is a lazy sod! He sits in his comfortable nest, created through her hard work, and bullies her into doing all the chores too. I'd have thrown him out, but it's never that easy. I have actually seen this kind of relationship in my circle of friends, and the parallels are staggering. It likely happens quite often when the wife is more successful. Sadly. So Julia had all my sympathy. 

When betrayal from an unexpected side hit her, her life as she knew it begins to unravel, and she has to make some tough decisions. I found the way she dealt with it very realistic. Such a shock knocks anyone, and I really felt for her.

However, I thought the end of Julia's story was a little too neat. Everything fell into place, quickly, which is not quite how things often work out. To me, it felt a little rushed, and way too easy. 

Pamela's history also takes a turn, as she encounters danger far closer to home. I found the way she deals with the challenges thrown in her way realistic. And she had friends to support her.

The Girl from Bletchley Park is an intriguing novel, one that makes you read on. Both stories are compelling, and you want to know what happens next, even if you have an inkling. 

A highly recommended read. 

Note: I received a few copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review. All opinion expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
The Girl from Bletchley Park has a strong feminist vein that runs through the book. It is evocative and special. There is romance, but also strong lifelong freindship between feisty women. The book celebrates independent women, education and intellectual strength.
Was this review helpful?
Great book about a young independent woman’s time serving at Bletchley Park during the war.  As well as her present day relatives and their current life events.
Was this review helpful?
Brilliant 
Pamela is a skilled mathematician who has been offered a place at Oxford University to study maths but she has been given an opportunity to work at the top secret wartime code breaking HQ of Bletchley Park. Julia is Pamela’s granddaughter and the discovery of a box of documents and photographs lead her into discovering more about her grandmothers time in the war, something she never spoke about
I loved both Julia and Pamela, they are strong and independent women who have to go through some really difficult times but they come out stronger. There were twists ins both of their stories that I wasn’t expecting and experiencing their worlds from their own point of view really worked for me. I think a part of me felt closer to Pamela than I did to Julia, there was something in Pam’s life that drew me in and had me addicted to her story a lot quicker than Julia’s. I struggled more with Julia as she was so different to me and it was harder for me to place myself into her world but as she started to open up and things became clearer I liked her more and more and by the end I was routing for her
Both Julia and Pamela had challenges and situations thrown at them and it was through these that I was able to fully understand them as characters and feel their emotions along with them and they felt more and more real
I was so absorbed in this book that it was only when the kindle got to 1% battery remaining that I realised the time which I think really shows the depth of the research and writing that had me hooked right from the very first page
I also loved the fact that the story focussed on the other side of Bletchley, the less famous one, not Enigma but the Newmanry where teams decoded teleprinter messages sent by the Nazi high command. This part of Bletchley’s story is so easily forgotten and I may not have understood it as well if I hadn’t watched a documentary on the Tunny code (as they called it), they were the team that used a number of machines including one of the first programmable computers called Colossus but who’s work was so shrouded in secrecy that it didn’t start to come out until the early 1990’s. I visited Bletchley Park years ago and really want to go again and I would recommend visiting, especially to the readers of the book so things can come to life more in your head (as it did in mine) 
I totally loved this book right from the very first page and I would recommend it to those who enjoy a book full of emotional drama with a storyline that will catch your interest and such detailed research that you will forget that it isn’t real
Was this review helpful?
Firstly I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

A very uncomplicated account of what it may have been like to work at Bletchley Park during the latter days of the war. The characters were warm, and interesting. Introducing one who was ‘not like us’ was possibly the key ingredient to this novel it was also an example of how bad things escalate, binging the reader back to reality with the effects caused by an addiction. The open ended closing of the novel, leaves the reader wanting to know how individuals within the book went out into the world after the declaration that the war had ended.

A nice easy to read and enjoyable novel. No real surprises, but manages to keep the reader absorbed,
Was this review helpful?
A dual timeline story involving Julia in 2019 and her grandmother, Pamela in 1943. Julia runs a successful software company with her co-director, Ian, and meanwhile is a wife and mother. Pamela is due to go up to Oxford to read mathematics but is asked by her teacher whether she would consider deferring for a while as there is another job she might be well qualified to do and help the war effort. 
Both of these are smart women who achieve in their fields and yet both are taken in by their other halves, which I found less that credible. In fact, I wanted to shout at Julia after a couple of chapters "DUMP HIM, DUMP HIM!" but sadly it took the rest of novel for her to reach the conclusion I did. Pamela too, although barely out of school, should have been more aware of what was going on around her. For these reasons I never truly believed in the characters and thus didn't find the book as satisfying as it could be.
The parts of the novel set at Bletchley included some details of the machines and how they operated along with some life of those serving there and this is the area of the book I found most interesting and the main reason I was drawn to the book. 
The novel is well written and easy reading but didn't really hit the spot for me. 
With thanks to Netgalley and HQstories and Harper Collins for an advance copy in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Thoroughly enjoyed this engrossing book, telling the modern day story of Julia and her grandmother Pamela who worked at Bletchley Park during the war.

The comparisons worked well, the characters were well drawn and convincing, and the novel held my attention throughout.

I have not read anything else by this author but I shall definitely check out the other works
Was this review helpful?
I’ve read about Bletchley Park and of course seen the film about it. This wasn’t my normal pick and just thought I would give it a try. I enjoyed the flicking back and forward between the women’s lives. It was th kind of book that doesn’t cause you to think too deeply but flows over you.
Was this review helpful?
Intriguing parallels between two women, grandmother and granddaughter. I found this a fascinating book, with plenty to keep me wanting to carry on reading. The history of Bletchley Park was interesting too.
Was this review helpful?
There is a continuing fascination with the work carried out at Bletchley Park during World War 2, work which we now know proved of great significance to the war effort. The author takes us “behind the scenes” at Bletchley Park through the story of Pamela, a promising student of mathematics who is persuaded to defer her place at university and instead put her skills to work in the service of her country. During her time at Bletchley Park, Pamela makes friendships that will last a lifetime but also learns in the most dramatic way possible that not everyone is quite what they seem, the author deftly playing with the reader’s doubts and suspicions.

Interwoven with Pamela’s experiences is the present day story of Julia, Pamela’s granddaughter. As the book progresses the similarities between the situations the two women face become increasingly apparent. For example, a neat touch is that Julia runs her own IT business whilst Pamela worked on what could be considered an early version of a computer. In different ways, both Pamela and Julia experience betrayal by those they have come to trust but also find help from unexpected quarters. Along the way ties of friendship and affection are tested and both women have to summon up all their strength to protect those they care about.

I really liked the way Julia’s relationship with her two sons, Oscar and Ryan, was portrayed and how they progress from being stroppy teenagers to showing signs of becoming fine young men. Julia’s brother, Bob, and Drew, the husband of Julia’s business partner, act as counterpoints to other less than admirable examples of the male species. And, in the earlier timeline, Clarissa proves a steadfast friend to Pamela whose warnings, as it turns out, Pamela would have done well to heed.

The Girl from Bletchley Park will appeal to fans of dual timeline stories with an element of mystery, and those with an interest in the contribution, often largely unsung, of women to the war effort.
Was this review helpful?
An interesting read but I found myself wanting to read more about the actual job of code breaking.  A dual timeline book with two females invested in their jobs - Pamela, who excels in mathematics is faced with a dilemma to attend Oxford or help her country during WW2, and Julia, her granddaughter who has a job in IT faced with her own dilemma.  I found myself struggling at times with the naivety of both of these women.  They were characters I was reading about but neither ever became real to me. 
 The tone of the book to me was more of failed romances than strong females who persevered, although they both ultimately did just that.  Having never heard of Bletchley Park I am intrigued to learn more about the history involved. 
The highlight of the book for me were the pages sharing Clarissa’s memoirs, which told Pamela’s story in a very unique way.
Many thanks to Kathleen McGurl, HQ digital, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to read an arc of this just published book.  3 1/2 stars.
Was this review helpful?
1942. Three years into the war, Pamela Jackson 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. 
2019 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 Pam as a young woman at Bletchley Park. The search for answers leads Julia to an incredible tale of betrayal and bravery – one that inspires some huge decisions of her own.
A lovely dual time story & I found both stories enjoyable Pam’s more than Julia’s. I found this to be a well written story but found the pace was slow to begin with but it did pick up. I loved the mix of mystery, intrigue & romance. This is the first story I’ve read by the author & it certainly won’t be the last. I’ve always been intrigued by Bletchley Park & even now its secrets are only coming to light.
My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read
Was this review helpful?
I have loved a lot of Kathleen McGurl's previous books, as the dual timeline is one of my favourite devices, when it is done well, as McGurl usually does.
I feel like this book was one of my lesser favourites of hers. Julia annoyed me from the start and I found it difficult to become invested in her troubles. I wanted her to have more of a backbone with her family and thought they took her for granted. 
I wanted Pam's story to take more of a central role in the story, as to me, the Bletchley history is much more fascinating than Julia's business.
Was this review helpful?
Great story of love, lies, secrets, and betrayals. I’ve read several books now with the code breakers from Bletchley Park and was thrilled to see this was also based there during WWII. This book did not disappoint.  Told as a dual story of a present-day woman, courageous and a pioneer in her field, and that of her grandmother, who forged a path thought to be unconventional at the time and secretly worked at Bletchley Park.  They are very much alike. 

Julia is the breadwinner of the family, much to the chagrin of her husband as she owns her own software company along with her best friend Ian.  Julia tries to juggle work and family to have it all, thus believing that to do so, she needs to do it all.  Julia also discovers that her grandmother had a secret after her brother brought her an old camera of her grandmother’s. But things begin to crumble both at work and at home.  How alike is Julia to her grandmother to be able to survive and thrive?

Destined for Oxford, Pamela was bright with a great aptitude in math and fluent in multiple languages.  Just the right qualifications for a secret group of women being recruited at Bletchley Park to help in the war effort as code breakers.  Pamela comes of age here, forging friendships with those like her and engaging in a romance that will affect her all her life. But she will always keep her secret.

I loved this book.  The storyline moved well and the characters were well developed. As Julia discovered Pamela’s story as it was told through the correspondence of her best friend’s memoirs, I thought it good that it was confirmed through Pamela’s own voice. This is a story of strength in the face of adversity and about the meaning of honor.  This book is fast paced and loaded with details about those who worked to support the war effort in England but no one knew about.  I found it fascinating.  Read this today.

Many thanks to #netgalley, #thegirlfrombletchleypark #kathleenmcgurl for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Was this review helpful?
The chapters alternate between life in 1942 at Bletchley Park, centred on Pam and a present -day narrative about her granddaughter, Julia. At first sight, the two women have very different lives and pressures, but as the stories develop, you can see that there are similarities around family life, the effect of marriage on a woman's career and trust in relationships. At first, I was more interested in the modern storyline but found that I was quickly hooked in and wanted to learn more about life at Bletchley Park.

   This is one of those stories where you will people to wake up and notice what seems pretty obvious to the reader. However, I think both Pam and Julia became so engrossed in their work that that became their focus. The two women are interesting characters who reflect the times they live in. Pam's desire to 'do her bit' for the Country is inspiring and a testament to the courage of the people who worked at Bletchley Park. Julia seems very much of her time too with so much to do in her work and home roles. As secrets are uncovered, you feel the effect on both women and I believed in both characters.

In short: Trust and loyalty are paramount
Thanks to the publisher for a copy of the book
Was this review helpful?
I did enjoy this book it was an easy read but did tell me information that I didn't know - given I live 10 mins away from Bletchley Park.  

The two time lines worked - I knew what was going to happen but half the fun is the how which is what I enjoyed.  This was a book that just needed to be devoured in one reading - it was such a good easy read. 

I was given an advance copy by the publishers and netgalley but the review is entirely my own
Was this review helpful?