The Rose Code
by Kate Quinn
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Pub Date 18 Mar 2021 | Archive Date 1 Apr 2022
HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction, HarperCollins
The brand-new book from the internationally bestselling author of The Alice Network and The Huntress – available to pre-order now!
1940. 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. Awkward local girl Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles beneath her shy exterior.
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…
As the nation prepares for the royal wedding they must race against the clock to save one of their own.If you loved The Crown, don’t miss this riveting historical novel!
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 271 members
A magnificent historical powerhouse of a novel, telling the heroic story of female code breakers in England during WWII. The marvelous Kate Quinn never disappoints!
This is the most absorbing book I've read for ages. It is set in a period I love, the period during and just after the Second World War. I must admit that I thought it might be very similar to The Bletchley Circle television series, which started well but 'lost the plot' after the first run, but The Rose Code is far more gripping, as it spends much of the novel building up a picture of the secret work done at Bletchley during the war through the lives and relationships of three women. Before the tension of the last third of the book, we really care about the characters, interspersed with tantalising but ominous glimpses of life after the war.
The thorough research about the period and the inner workings of code-breaking shone through - particularly the captivating insights into the processes invoved - and references to real characters add context and truth to the background. The final third of the book is well plotted and fast-paced, building up suspense to the very end. I will miss my rewarding visits with those three indomitable women. A riveting and fascinating read!
A most interesting and enthralling story set in secret historical events centred on three girls over a period of 7 years. It starts in 1970 when two women receive a coded message begging for help from a former colleague locked in a mental sanitorium. How and why is a mystery that is unfolded in the story starting in 1939 when two young girls meet travelling to a mysterious place to take up a nebulous job. They arrive at Betchley Park and are sworn to secrecy, then assigned to The Government Code and Cypher School. While there they befriend a girl from their billet and get her to join too. They are three fascinating characters of different education and social backgrounds that makes an enticing story of their lives through the war years until a time when due to a personal dispute they parted with the one in the sanatorium. What happened thereafter provides an engrossing and exciting finale. A most satisfying read. Being intrigued as to how the book could have been written with such detail; research unearthed many personal accounts of the era that the author has made good use of; even to making an amalgamation of true people into the creation of the fictional three girls in the book. The author has done a brilliant job in creating a fascinating story.
This fabulous story is set during WW2 in the secretive surroundings of Bletchley Park. Three very different intelligent young women are selected for German military decoding training. Osla, Mab and Beth become firm friends sharing lodgings at Beth’s family home and working in various decoding roles in BP. They form a social life and friendships with several others who are also working on decoding tasks. Following a tragic incident and a betrayal by a traitor in their midst the three friends become enemies and one of them is incarcerated in the Clock House asylum. The story switches from the war years to 1947. Days before the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip two of the women receive coded letters from the inpatient of the Clock House declaring innocence and asking for help to determine who the traitor is. The three must crack one more code. The Rose code.
The characters are developed into likeable people all with very different backgrounds. Plots and surprises, twists and turns to the very last page. I was sorry when it ended but so enjoyed learning about the history of Bletchley Park. Highly recommend! My thanks to Rachel Quin, HarperCollins and netgalley for the opportunity to read this superb book and for introducing me to another author. ‘The Huntress’ next!
I loved ‘The Huntress’ so I was delighted to be offered the chance to read The Rose Code. I’ve always found the women code breakers of Bletchley Park fascinating and I love what Quinn has done here – taking their story and interweaving it with strands of friendship and betrayal, and a mole in the ranks. And then after the war, the women are brought back together to solve the very issue that tore their friendship apart. This was incredibly compulsive. I gobbled it down.
I loved this book and I'm sure it would make a great film. Three young women from different backgrounds are thrown together at Bletchley Park. during WW2 . All are doing different jobs, all which involve code breaking.
The three women are best of friends until an incident happens which tears the friendship apart forever..
A few years after the war one of the women has been done a great injustice and sends out a cry for help to the other two. Will they help even if they have not spoken with each other since their big fallout?
I liked how although this is a fiction story real life events were included .
One thing that did annoy me was the reference only to England in the war and the during the Royal wedding the Queen being of England and not the United Kingdom.
Thanks to netgalley for an early copy in return for an honest opinion.
Have read a few of this author was delighted to read this early.
A fabulous story that intertwine war love loss Bletchley park what more could you want for a very intriguing read can highly recommend.
The Rose Code.
Set in the 1940’s and modern times, this is about three young women who go to work at Bletchley Park as code breakers, to help decipher messages sent from the German Enigma machines.
Isla Kendall is a debutante, wealthy, and has a boyfriend, a certain Greek Prince, named Philip.
Mab is a determined woman, who worked at Debenhams department store, put herself through a secretarial course, and is on the hunt for a husband.
Bethan Finch, is shy and under the thumb of her religious overbearing mother. She has a ferocious knowledge of crosswords and the ability to see patterns in both words and shapes. All three girls are billeted together and form a strong loyal bond.
Chapters in this novel are in the form of a countdown to the Royal Wedding in 1947,and the 1940’s.
There is a traitor in Bletchley Park and information is being smuggled out. These events happen in the section that Bethan works in, and she is falsely accused of treason and sent to Clockwell Sanitorium mental hospital. She manages to get a message to her two friends and begs for their help in finding the traitor and gaining her release.
Osla sparkles upon the pages of this book. Bethan is loyal, tenacious and can be oblivious to the hurts and despair of her friends. Mab can be cruel and spiteful, but together, they are like the three Musketeers, they are determined to support and defend each other.
The ending is perfect and surprising. When you visit Bletchley Park, and push open the doors to the huts where so many secrets were discovered and kept safe, you can almost hear the whispers of the women and the clank of the machinery.
I won’t give away any more, you will have to read it!
A five star read. Thank you to Harper Collins for my copy, this is my honest review. I will leave a review to Goodreads and Amazon later.
This was a mesmerising book. I loved the characters and the historical details and the topic was just fascinating. A well written book that I loved reading every spare moment I had.
Thank you for the opportunity to read this book, unfortunately I now have a book hangover......... This was an amazing read, absolutely fantastic, I had read one of the authors previous historical fiction books so I knew this one should be good but it exceeded all expectations.
Interesting history period and setting, great characters in a friendship, love, hate and mistrust. Two timelines, a royal wedding, WW2, spies and code breaking there was nothing not to like - well only that it ended, Highly recommend.
There aren't enough words to capture how much I loved this book. I savoured reading it over days because I did not want this story to end. From the very beginning, I fell in love with the characters, Mab, Osla and Beth. I was hanging on to every word, every sentence and every chapter ending because I wanted to know what was going to happen. Quinn developed them in an admirable way, the flashbacks served as a welcome reminder of how much they had changed since the start of the story. The side characters were equally as exciting to read about, particularly Harry. I wanted nothing more than to drop in on a Mad Hatters meeting and talk to all of them, they practically jumped off the page with their raw, human flaws.
The plot itself was brilliant. There wasn't a dull moment, despite this novel being quite long for a historical fiction. Everything came alive from the mysteries of Bletchley Park to the horrors of the war. Everything felt so rich, this novel pulls you in from the start. Not at any point did I manage to predict what was going to happen next, not because anything was outlandish or unreasonable, but because Quinn managed to weave a story that detailed and well planned out that when it all fell into place I was shocked. The last 200 pages or so had me on the edge of my seat, desperate to read more but also not wanting this magnificent book to end.
I wish I could give this more than 5 stars, it's easily one of my top reads of the year. There's a part of me that wants to immediately reread it because of how stunning everything was. I know Quinn will be on my automatically buy list from now on, her writing and ability to create stories like this is breathtaking.
Absolutely loved this book, set against the backdrop of Bletchley Park, it is part war time story, part love story, part detective story. Cleverly weaving real people with fictional characters, it draws the reader in and leaves you rushing headlong through it. All in all, a throughly enjoyable read whilst learning more of the fascinating story of the code breakers of Bletchley
This is an excellent read particularly if you are interested in WW2 and Bletchley Park. The plot centres around three intriguing characters all of whom are three dimensional and well drawn. There is pace and passion throughout. I really enjoyed the insights into Bletchley and loved the connections made at the end up to the present time. The commitment and determination of these shadowy figures in history do need to be acknowledged and admired by all of us who benefited from the considerable sacrifices they made. The moral dilemma of secrecy both during and after the war is portrayed in a sensitive and convincing way.
The author doesn’t shy away from emphasising that bad things do happen in war and also that no matter what important role people may have in the war effort that human feelings and errors are inescapable. When reading this book I experienced the full gamut of emotions and I was sorry to lose three women who felt like friends when the book ended.
The only (small) criticism I would make was that Beth’s actions and feelings in the asylum didn’t always feel totally convincing.
I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to any reader who enjoys strong characters, a well-written plot and a good splash of well-researched history.
A tale about the Women who won the war. Beautifully descriptive and sharp paced narrative that will keep the reader enthralled from start to finish. If you have a general interest in history, WW2 or Bletchley Park then I highly recommend this novel. It's refreshing to see the war from the perspective of the women of Bletchley Park and the painstaking processes of solving the various codes to be used to an allied advantage.
The "Rose Code" well if you've signed the official secrets act we can proceed, well those in this novel have, it's probably safe most if not all now know what went on in Bletchley Park in Berkshire and the massive effect they had in helping to win the Second World War. Here is a novel that keeps you in suspence and great way to find out how they worked there.
We have 3 heroines Osla, Mab and Beth there are also some special guest like The Prince of Greece often known as the Duke of Edinburgh now a days, plus some others but I will let you read about them for yourself. Mab and Osla meet on a train one a ordinary girl from Shoreditch and the is a other posh girl called Osla whose just conned her way back from Canada 🇨🇦 where she'd been sent for her own safety (some have the rest of us ....)and she is now dating a certain Prince see above.. Later that day they meet Beth when they are billeted at her Mums (her Dads as well but he won't argue with his other half).
One of them ends the war in an asylum and the reason, the truth needs to be discovered and the twists and turns are spectacular at times surprising and gripping so just what i look for in a thriller. When good friends fall out the results are normally ugly but can they bring the truth to the fore, well thefts obviously that's the bulk of the story but it's so much more as well.
I loved this book the story is believable the characters flaured but loveable well most. It also feels genuine for its era the fear of war, but also the language of the time this may offend a few but life is never straightforward and for a time of prim and proper I think these folk will have still have a few choice words fit for the pc language of today after what they went through. It was a different age but we owe what we have to the sacrifices they made so least we can do Is get a feel for this era before its washed away by the artists of modern takes on what we never knew.
So five stars for a book well worth your penny's and time I think your likely to enjoy it and learn a thing or two I did.
This book is an absolute diamond from page one. I couldn't put it down and I didn't even try. I surrendered to the fascinating world of Bletchley Park.
Mab, Beth and Osla are intriguing characters. Their differences are exaggerated but their friendship grows and develops beautifully. I really don't want to give even a hint of a spoiler as so much of this book is enigmatic- you can't quite see where it's going until you arrive.
The book is well written and paced. Kate Quinn does an excellent job in conveying life working at Bletchley; the all consuming, electric moments when a mystery is solved but also the terror and futility of knowing and not being able to tell.
I can't recommend this book highly enough. I already want to reread it! I will definitely search out more books by this author and am grateful to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review such a dazzling, unputdownable book.
Fabulous! The best book I have read this year! Please could someone brilliant make it in to a TV series that does it justice! It has everything; history, intrigue, romance, drama, betrayal, humour and such intensity! I have been reading with tears streaming down my face several times.
Three very different women who become vital to the safety of the realm, one a cute deb, one a tall stylish woman with history and the bullied genius! I knew them, their characters bounced off the pages, they made me laugh, cry and weep for them! Their frustrations, their intensity and their emotions were all there wrapped up in this superb story. I will miss it so very much. If I could give this book a ten I would!
This was one of my favourite books this year (and I've read 111 so far!).
The story has two time lines which catch up with each other close to the end. One is set in the 2nd world war and one shortly after. I loved the 3 main characters and the way their particular personalities and paths developed. There is also a very intriguing mystery to solve, which was rounded up perfectly.
This is one story that will stay with me forever.
The book will be published 18th March 2021 and I definitely recommend it.
Thank you to HarperCollins and Netgalley uk for providing me with an arc copy of this book.
I love books set in this era. I have heard of Bletchley Park so I was keen to know more and this book didn't disappoint. I felt as if I had been transported there. I loved the characters. I was drawn to the book by the royal connection and I could totally believe that something similar did actually happen. I loved the history of Bletchley Park and was amazed at what actually happened. It's a gripping, page turner story with romance, thrilling secrets, glamour and heartbreak this book has it all. I loved it.
This is the story of three women, all very different from one another, who find themselves working together in the highly secretive world of Bletchley Park during the war.. From deb, to East End social climber to brilliant but oppressed woman they find they each have a unique talent to help the war effort. I loved the description of the work they did in their respective roles. I think the writer really caught the period with the language she used and the clothes although I was dubious of but also envious of if it were possible to drive so quickly all over England! This is a fabulous read- Every time I put it down I was thinking about what would happen next to the girls and the ending is worth every word before it. - I recommend this highly.
This book had me at Bletchley Park. Having been fascinated with the subject for over 40 years, I was expecting a really well written, fast paced and informative book- it didn’t fail.
Three women from totally different backgrounds are thrown together at Bletchley Park: Osla, who had been presented at Court, is wealthy and thought of by people that don’t know her as a typical debutante: Beth, young, naive and no life of her own as she’s been controlled by her domineering mother for years: Mab, strong Amazonian type, determined she was going to better herself and snag a husband. They only had one thing in common, they wanted to serve their country in its hour of need.
The story is told in 2 different time frames, during the war, and a couple of years after it. It could have been confusing but definitely wasn’t. It’s atmospheric, and rings with authenticity. I loved it, and would recommend it to everyone.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Thanks to Harper Collins and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review. It is probably the best book I have read this year, brilliantly written and entertaining. It manages to convey the complex and vital work done at Bletchley Park during WW2 without getting bogged down. The characters are excellent with lots of twists and turns in the story. Highly recommended
Such an entertaining, enthralling and interesting book!! I was hooked from the first page! I loved reading and learning about code-breaking in WWII. The dialogues are often so funny that I would have loved to meet the characters! This is a story not only about code-breaking but also about treason, belonging, integrity, friendship and love. I loved it!
What can I say. This is a brilliant book, 'based a real place, featuring real people' but are all the events true; (or are they!!). We will/may never know. But it doesn't matter. The story is gripping, the characters (lots of real people) are engaging - to be honest, I thought an American author was taking liberties with our history; but the more one investigates and knows about Bletchley Park, and the people who work there, the more one realises how much truth is stranger than fiction!!
I don't want to say, because it would definitely spoil it - so, just read and enjoy.
With thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for an ARC.
An excellent novel. Very engrossing and evocative of a time of great peril. Real page turner. Kept me hooked from start to finish
Thee young women Osla, Mab and Beth come together at Bletchley Park. Sworn to secrecy they work in separate sections. In the present it is 1947 and a royal wedding is taking place. The three women have fallen out, one is in an asylum. What happened, is there a spy, can they break the code. Brilliant from start to finish would recommend
After reading the superb book ‘The Huntress’ by this talented author, I was delighted to be offered Kate Quinn’s The Rose Code. Set in the top secret Bletchley Park throughout the war and it’s aftermath, this book is a beautifully written story of three young ladies thrown together to make a difference in the war torn country. From very different backgrounds, they become firm friends and although they must never speak of the work they do, they find their common plight a bond. The story begins after the war, with Beth in an asylum, Mab living in York with her family and Osla in London preparing for the Royal Wedding of our current Queen. The events that lead up to this scenario are expertly told with the fashions, speech, manners and ways of life becoming vivid imagery in the mind of the reader. The in depth research of the work done at Bletchley is interspersed with the personal stories, hardships and dramas of the staff there. Fact meets fiction with members of the Royal Family, Churchill and real staff of Bletchley mingling seamlessly with the fictional characters of the author’s imagination. I loved the characters, so different yet all typical of the time. Some may find some of the language unacceptable these days, but it is a true reflection of the ignorance shown almost 80 years ago. A lengthy book but one I found difficult to put down and as I said with The Huntress, this is not a genre I usually read but Kate Quinn is so talented, I can’t wait for the next one.
++1940, Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire++
Three very different women are recruited to the mysterious Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes.
Vivacious debutante Osla has the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses – but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, working to translate decoded enemy secrets. Self-made Mab masters the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and the poverty of her East-End London upbringing. And shy local girl Beth is the outsider who trains as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts.
Seven years after they first meet, on the eve of the royal wedding between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, disaster threatens. Osla, Mab and Beth are estranged, their friendship torn apart by secrets and betrayal. Yet now they must race against the clock to crack one final code together, before it’s too late, for them and for their country.
I have read Kate Quinn's Second World War books and adored them all this was no exception. When I was given the chance to read this by Netgalley and the publishers I was overjoyed.
These characters are all working at Bletchley Park. Osla is from a wealthy family and is dating Prince Philip I dont know why he was chosen and it did feel odd to imagine him young and / or romantic. Mab is from the East End of London and Beth is a shy girl from the village where Osla and Mab stay to be near Bletchley.
This is a long book which i loved as it gave me more time with the characters I loved every second and especially the finding a traitor element.
I think I will reread The Alice Network and The Huntress again and would so love this in audiobook so I can listen to it as well
I would highly highly recommend and hope Kate Quinn will bring out another book soon
Thank you Netgalley and publishers I am so so grateful
This is a brilliant novel about three very different girls who find themselves working at Bletchley Park during WW2. The period is vividly brought to life by Kate Quinn and the girls all have real personalities and varying backgrounds. There is a lot of detail about how results were achieved at BP and I had never previously considered how physically and mentally demanding the work was. It's no wonder that staff suffered from burn out but then they were really dedicated, especially when there was a "big push" on.
There are a number of historical figures in the story, at least one of whom is still alive, but I didn't really mind that as there is so much factual information that it would not be possible to omit some of them. How could you have a substantial novel (600+ pages) set at Bletchley Park without even a mention of Alan Turing?
People living during these times mostly tried to live life to the full because they had no idea what disaster might shortly befall them. There is thus a lot happening in the story in a fairly short time frame as the girls try to juggle a busy work schedule with some sort of social life.
This is recommended reading, as is a visit to Bletchley Park. The Rose Code is even better than The Huntress.
My gratitude to Net Galley and the publishers for the opportunity to review this book.
"The Rose Code" by Kate Quinn is an epic, exhilarating story which justifiably recognises the heroic contributions made by the women who worked tirelessly at the famed Bletchley Park facility cracking enemy codes during WWII.
Much has been made in other accounts about the geniuses who built the famous code breaking machines, but this story is an account of the women mostly who worked on the machines to ensure the intercepts were decrypted successfully.
The three main characters, Beth, Mab and Osla from very different backgrounds work in separate sections but find themselves in the same accommodation. They become allies and friends at work and in their personal lives. The Official Secrets Act puts them under immense pressure as they are unable to discuss even with each other the things they come across whilst working.
I flew through the 600+ pages of this book in a few of days with no dip in the tension that sometimes can happen with longer books. The storylines flow together expertly with one or two sweet twists near the end to look forward to.
I had heard Kate Quinn,’s name on the wind whenever any of my bookish pals spoke of Historical Fiction, so I was intrigued by this book.
I sat down and found I had read it in two huge gulps and I cannot recommend it any higher than to say - You forget you are reading a book and are sucked into the lives of some brilliantly formed women and into the hallowed huts at Bletchley Park. Itself. You feel the secrecy, you hear the sounds of brains and wheels whirring. You feel like a spy into a very special world, one that we are still only just truly learning about now.
A great Royal Cameo that does not feel inauthentic despite it’’s inclusion which in another author’s hands might have felt shoe horned. Another rather lovely appearance made me very happy and yet left a feeling of light melancholy This melding of history with a rip roaring adventure that swept me along has made me a fan of Miss Quinn and I will be using the the clock analogy whenever I need to feel clever at a party!
There are few authors for whom I unhesitatingly accept a new manuscript , to read in exchange for a review. Why me? I always ask myself. "Are they desperate for reviewers, because no one else likes it? What am I going to say about it if it's awful?" I have no such fears when it comes to Kate Quinn. I don't think there's a book of hers I haven't loved. (<a href="https://bevbouwer.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-alice-network-by-kate-quinn.html">The Alice Network</a>, <a href="http://bevbouwer.blogspot.com/2018/03/mistress-of-rome-by-kate-quinn.html">The Mistress of Rome</a> being two of my favourites, but <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40245700-the-huntress">The Huntress </a>being outstanding - there are not enough words for how much I loved that book).</p>
With this one, I didn't even read the blurb, I just dived right in. How deliciously refreshing and fabulously entertaining this was.
Set in 1940, in England, we meet dazzling and brilliant Osla who is a whiz at languages - underestimate her at your peril; the rather drab Mab, who has exceptional typing and shorthand skills and thought it "better to live an old maid with a shiny desk and a salary in the bank, proudly achieved through the sweat of her own efforts, than end up disappointed and old before her time thanks to long factory hours and too much childbirth" and Beth, who can solve crossword puzzles in a jiffy. All spinsters, and guess where they land up together? In Buckinghamshire, at Bletchley Park, no other.
For those of you (like me) bingeing on The Crown on Netflix, there's also a dalliance with Prince Phillip, some references to old Dickie (Mountbatten) and many references to the actual characters featuring in that mysterious court of codebreaking, guard of military secrets and house of spies.
Not to mention the royal wedding in 1947 - Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth. And a race to break some code, and rescue a friend trapped in the Clockwell Sanitorium. All rather exciting stuff for three brainy girls. Who woulda guessed they also had a part to play in the war and its aftermath.
With Kate Quinn, there is always enough mystery, romance, plot, danger and intrigue to keep you glued. Not to mention the intricate and complex relationships between heroines with no end of talent for adventure. Which is as well, because at 656 pages this had me loving every one.
5 scintillating stars from me.
What a fantastic novel set in 1940s to 1947 with the eve of the Royal Wedding, this authors beautifully researched story tells about the heoroic teams who worked at Bletchley Park , the legendary code breakers of the enigma and other codes which gave the Allies access to secrets that in turn changed the course of the War and eventually ended it. Three girls who are as far apart in society as one could ever imagine - from Osla the vivacious debutante and god child of lord mountbatton to Mab from the East End who has fought her way up in the world to Beth the awkward local girl that the first two meet when they are boarded in her home. In to this secret world where girl is invited to work they meet the motley and excentric crew formed of professors, service men and brains who form the different huts and work all hours in the unravelling of secret codes. As the girls work they all meet up with men who will influence their lives in the future, especially a certain Greek Prince who falls for Osla. But their friendships fracture due to errors in judgement and a tradegy that makes them part ways. The war time life is wonderfully betrayed with the young grasping pleasure before another event takes things away - even the famous Cafe de Paris comes to life in the pages. Finally these women must race against time and reunite to solve a mysterious encrypted letter as Princess Elizabeth is about to mary her dashing Prince Philip.
An engaging and fascinating read that also brings alive the shadowy agencies that could banish someone to a mental home and in that it protrays the inhumane cruelty dished out to imates in that time. The reader will certainly be carried along with the fast pace of this novel and its interesting ending.
This begins by flitting between the build up to Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip's wedding combined with the enigma code breaking at Bletchley Park. Three women lead us through both timelines - Osla who is very much the "silly debutante" with the connections and the class, Mab is the formidable East End girl and Beth is the downtrodden almost silent wallflower. However none of them are entirely what you expect and they become firm friends while working in different sections at Bletchley. Their friendship and their code breaking both get fractured as errors of judgement and tragedy occur. Leading to the story set three years later coinciding with the royal wedding - can the three friends put aside their differences and break codes again to discover who is the traitor who affected all of their lives?
At the beginning I wasn't sure about this as all the ww2 clichés seemed to be here - I swear I haven't read any fiction that if it mentions the Cafe de Paris you know a character will be there when it was bombed. Also the future prince Philip in fiction is a bit disconcerting. However once I got past all that it quickly got brilliant
This is a remarkable book, I found it to be totally immersive. The intertwining life stories of the three young women who become part of the organisation that was the Bletchley Park code breaking operation during WW2 are riveting, describing in detail their very different back stories and how they come to be such firm friends.
The characterisation of Osla, ,Mab and Beth is exceptional, painting an indelible picture of the three central protagonists and all the other supporting characters, to bring them fully formed to the story.
The plotting is excellent, the pace is maintained throughout, even though it covers dual timelines, from early 1940s during the war years, and from 1947, when the war has ended.
The realisation of the hugeness of the scale of Bletchley Park, known as BP, and the hundreds of people who were co opted to work there, was a big surprise, as was the high level of total secrecy that all the workers had to maintain, even from each other.
The research that the author must have carried out to be able to describe in such detail the physical operational processes of the code-breaking machinery used, is impressive.
The utter ruthlessness of government agencies of the time, in consigning to a mental asylum a person who might pose a security risk, was utterly chilling.
The inhumanity of the treatment meted out to inpatients in mental institutions was horrifying, whether or not they were actually mentally ill. How far society has travelled from such terrible times.
The concluding chapters of the book, in 1947 when the race is on to uncover the truth about a traitor at BP, had me holding my breath as I raced through the script.
The themes of unlikely friendships, love, romance, tragedy, suspicion, mistrust, betrayal, and ultimately the strong sense of righting a wrong, are woven skilfully throughout this wonderful story. It is unlike any WW2 story I have read, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
My thanks to the author, publisher and to Netgalley for my advance copy of this title, I have so enjoyed reading it.
QUINNtissentially the best historical fiction I have read in a while.
Brilliant, inspirational, real people mixed with fictional ones.
One of the most fascinating settings and places to find yourself in a novel.
Bletchley Park, spiffing girls, cracking codes and a hint of treachery. A topping tale set in two timelines- Bletchley Park during the War and the other in the week leading up to the Queen's wedding. To explain why the time split would spoil a very well written story which had me glued to the page.
I had worried that my ability to read 'longer' books had suffered due to a shortened attention span - age? social media? pandemic? but this book proves that a great plot engaging characters and lashings of peril can get my nose stuck to the page once again.
Many thanks to Kate Quinn for a thoroughly enjoyable interlude, I will be seeking out her other books.
What a spellbinding book. The story of Bletchley Park and the amazing work which went on there is awe inspiring. This story just swept me away until I felt as if I were there and a part of it all. You are lead into the lives of the Code Breakers. Some of them complicated and almost heartbreaking.
The whole pace of the book bounds along and I felt as if there was so much to do and so little time. How keen their brains must have been to do this work day after day.
Beth, the loneliest seeming character of the story has a massive part to play and whilst, at one point in her life, everything is turned upside down - she may well become the hero of the hour. There are characters in this book that we all know and this helped to make the book so real and lifelike.
I loved it. It’s a real page turner. It seemed so down to Earth and yet amazingly powerful at the same time.
Entertaining , and well researched. I thoroughly enjoyed this, a real page turner.. . Not too slushy romance wise and has a good pacy ending. Gives a really good insight into the world of Enigma code breaking and set against the background of the Royal
I loved this book. Bound to be one of the best reads of 2021. I couldn’t put it down despite the length (600pages) that just fly by.
Twists and turns and brings new light to a well known historical period.
This is a brilliant book, I read it in the week when John LeCarre died and had to think that this is a worthy successor. Its a fast moving story of friends working at Bletchely Park during the War, patched across to 1947 when they meet again to find the spy who got one of them locked up in a secure mental hospital because she was getting too close to finding out who it was. Its beautifully written and evokes the thrill of war work, the urgency off war-time relationships and the terrible speed with which they can fall apart. Read it!
Such a great read this tells the story of three very different women brought together at Bletchley Park the top secret codebreaking site during the Second World War.Osla a Mayfare Deb.,Mab an Eastender on the lookout for a husband and Beth so retiring her vile and cruel mother, has always told is useless and odd but who becomes one of the top codebreakers at Bletchley.The tale follows their triumphs and tragedies personal and professional against a background of the utmost secrecy which although it was strictly adhered to caused many problems for those who worked there. Like Harry Zarb whose young son was beaten and bullied because his father wasn't in uniform ..The attitude of the men from the security services who brushed women off as 'silly debs' but couldn't have begun to understand the intelligence of the women credited with being instrumental to winning the war and who were reckoned to have shortened it by at least two years .It was believed that women couldn't do intelligence work because they couldn't keep a secret! ( The three fastest forms of communication Telegram Telephone and Tell a woman) despite ample evidence to the contrary.
When Beth cracks a code pointing to the existence of a traitor she finds herself accused of being hysterical and having a breakdown and ends up in an asylum courtesy of MI5 and facing a lobotomy. Its not until after the war that her two erstwhile friends answer a plea for help in an exciting finale
At times I felt ashamed to be a man and looking at my daughters felt thankful that attitudes have moved on even if there is still some way to go.
There are a number of real life characters caught up in the story most notably Prince Phillip as a young serving naval lieutenant and the part of the book after the war is set against the timetable of his marriage to the future queen. Kate Middletons' Grandmother and great aunt are also in there as they also worked at Bletchley Park.
As a piece of Historical fiction I thought this was top notch and conveys the attitudes and feelings in wartime Britain superbly.The fear of invasion the tension of the codebreakers desperately seek to find the key to the u-boat code as hundreds of lives are lost in the Atlantic and the triumph of uncovering the Italian navies entire battleplan for an attack in the med.
And on top of that a cast of well rounded characters with all their faults. and a great story about a group of people whose contribution was kept secret until just a few years ago and who sadly never got the recognition they deserved many having passed away before the information was released.
Really enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it .
The Rose Code is a fabulous story. Osla, Mab and Beth become friends while working at Bletchley Park during the war. After the war Beth is confined to an asylum and sends a (coded!) message to Osla and Mab asking for help. The story moves back and forth along these timelines. We get an amazing picture of their lives - the hard work, the pressure to succeed, the tragedy that war brings. I loved this book and raced through it but then was sad I'd finished it! I think I will be reading more of this author.
Thanks to this book, I am suffering from lack of sleep. Seriously, I tried to put it down and go to sleep but had to go back to reading and finishing this book, meaning a past 3 am bedtime for me.
The Rose Code is a story set in 1947, just before the Royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Phillip, and jumps back to 1940, where the story starts.
Three women, tied together by a huge wartime secret, are brought back together to solve a huge mystery.
Osla, Mabs and Beth couldn't; be from more different backgrounds.
Osla is one of those 'scatty debs' who people just assume has no brains.
Mabs has pulled herself up from a tough life, and is in search of a life that she feels she deserves,
Beth is a timid, mousy girl, who is in fear of her overbearing mother.
The summons to work at Bletchley Park as a part of the WW2 codebreakers brings much-needed purpose into their lives until things start to happen...
I love books with a hint of truth in them, and ones that take history, and twist it slightly (artistic license) to add flavour to the plot, and this was perfectly done in The Rose Code.
I don't want to give the story away, but if you like a bit of wartime in your books, spiced up with twists, this is definitely for you!
Codebreaking excitement throughout the whole book!
There is suspense, romance, history, and a gripping plot that keeps you reading until the very end!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.
Whether or not you like historical fiction, The Rose Code has something for everyone. Three great characters caught up in diverse roles trying to extract secret intelligence from intercepted enemy communication at Bletchley Park. Whilst thankfully away from the bombing, Bletchley Park brought it's own toll on the men and women who toiled there, working against the odds to crack a seemingly impossible encryption code. The real story is about the people, their interactions and how they went about their work. Not to mention the affairs both in and beyond Bletchley Park. You know when a book is well written, you can't put it down and yet you don't want it to end. You know the characters so well, you could strike up a conversation with any of them if you had the good fortune to meet them. Five stars hardly does it justice. It's a long novel and never once dull. Just one little historical niggle, I don't think Mabs would have had a very worn nylon slip, it's just a little too early in the roll out of that synthetic fibre.
Three ‘gals’, one war, once best friends until D-Day when events splintered their tight knit secret world of Bletchley Park after which one ends up in Clockwell Sanatorium in Yorkshire. Fast forward to 1947 and the wedding of the century of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip of Greece ( regarded as a ‘dish’) but the prospect of the wedding is putting former deb Osla Kendall in a funk. What unfolds in the dual timeline will get your unmentionables into a bit of a swither in this bally marvellous novel.
Glued. Transfixed. Enthralled. I could go on but suffice it to say this is an exceptional story. It’s a novel of how three women from very different backgrounds helped in the Enigma codebreaking which in itself is an absorbing story. The characters are terrific, there’s wealthy Canadian debutante and later Tatler journalist Osla Kendall who is utterly spiffing, there’s (Queen) Mab Church from the East End who is a literary filly with plenty of gumption and a dark secret and Beth Finch, dubbed hopeless by her odious mother but who is in fact a whizz at seeing patterns in codebreaking. We rub shoulders with the ‘great and good’ - enter Philip, his uncle Dickie Mountbatten and our leader Winnie makes an appearance, there’s Alan Turing and Dilly Knox, there’s a traitorous cad and a wonderful but very damaged WW1 war poet. Fabulous. The book captures the times in the use of language, sadly there’s awful racism with some words that make your toes curl and there’s ever present sexism because why on earth could women possibly have brains, what? It’s also a mystery as it’s about betrayal of your country, it’s about how the codebreakers help turn the tide of war and keep that knowledge to their cost. The war imposes hugely on the characters lives and brings tragedy to some with some vivid, terrifying panic stricken descriptions in places such as Coventry and London. The cryptography element is absolutely fascinating and you marvel at the tenacity with accompanying hours and hours of eye straining effort especially on Beth as she eats, sleeps and breathes it. At times it’s so tense and gripping you hardly dare to breathe. The parts that take place at Clockwell shock you to the core and it’s the ‘Rose Code’ that leads to this place of horrors. The ending builds extremely well as it becomes a tense and exciting race against time to unmask the traitor and this nail baiter takes place against the backdrop of the royal wedding.
Overall, I think it’s apparent I love this book! You can’t read it in a jiffy or a tick, it’s one to savour and reread in the future and it will stay with me for a long time. It’s spiffing, top notch, tip top etc etc!!! This one is a must read and is highly recommended.
With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Harper Collins for the much appreciated arc and to Kate Quinn for writing it.
It seems very strange to me that I know so much about Bletchley Park and the Enigma machine etc. True, we have had a movie and a tv series about it, but about ten years ago, I don’t think I knew very much. Now thanks to various media, and obviously quite a few books it all feels very familiar and hard to imagine a time when it really was a secret. Even harder to imagine the hardships encountered by those many, many people working there; not to mention the abuse young, able bodied men encountered because ‘they weren’t in uniform’.
So I embraced The Rose Code because it was familiar, or so I thought. We were introduced to three women, Osla,Mab and Beth – all from different backgrounds and experiences. The familiar strategy of a moving timeline, 1940 – 1947, backwards and forwards was employed to hook us in to the various lives and developments, on the home front, their love lives and their working lives. All set against the anxieties in relation to the war, DDay and the budding romance between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. I must admit I really did enjoy those parts that featured him – shame he could never be with the woman from Bletchley Park (Sorry, your majesty, it is only a story).
Of course, there has to be a traitor in the mix – and this was also managed very well, to such an extent that one of our women finds herself in an institution - so much for doing your duty!
No more to be said (there is so much to say) because it will spoil it. All I can say, is read it, it is brilliant and beautifully written.
Thank you to the author, publishers and NetGalley for providing an ARC via my Kindle in return for an honest review.
My thanks to Kate Quinn, Harper Collins and Net Galley for the ARC of THE ROSE CODE. I loved it. A wonderful story about the clandestine world of Bletchley Park during the Second World War, and the lives of three girls, Osla, Mab, and Beth. Each comes from an entirely different background from the other, making for an interesting premise. My one big question mark is over Beth's decision. Would she or wouldn't she? Should she have or was it hypocritical? Read it and you decide. 5 super stars!
This was excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Clever, well written and pitch perfect setting the scenes and bringing out the characters. Highly recommended.
UNPUTDOWNABLE! The new book from Kate Quinn is another amazing novel about strong women during wartime, this time covering the Bletchley Park code breakers during World War Two.
With three central characters: Beth, Mab and Osla, the story twines with romance, royalty and intrigue, revealing secrets and lies as events unfold.
I found it utterly gripping, brilliant historical facts shedding light on parts of the war effort I wasn’t familiar with. I’m actually feeling bereft that it’s over! I would thoroughly recommend this book. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
The Rose Code is an enjoyable read. It interweaves two different time periods (during and post-war) and gradually the reader learns about the lives of three women of very different backgrounds, thrown together at Bletchley Park to help break codes in WW2.
The story opens with a plea for help from one of the women, and the book rushes towards to that moment from the time when the three women first meet.
The narrative is bookended, somewhat incongruously, by the love life of Prince Philip, who falls for one of the protagonists at the beginning and then is marrying QEII by the end.
A brilliant journey through the workings of Bletchley Park during the heights of it's operations during World war 2. The fact that we all know what went on there now, makes it hard to imagine how secret it's operations were, even to people living in the village, so young men are abused for not doing their bit in the war effort, when they are really saving the lives of thousands. Our three ladies are as different as you can get, Isla, who is trying to break the mould of being a socialite, whilst still having Prince Philip as her boyfriend. Mab, who is determined to marry well and won't let anyone drag her back down into her poverty driven past. And Beth, who has been told she is only good enough to look after her demanding mother, but is an actual code breaking genius. We have the wonderful story of their work and loves during the war interwoven with 1947, where they are no longer friends and Beth has been declared insane, however she has reached out to the two people she knows are enemies knowing they are the only two people that she trusts. Because there is a traitor, and they are still out there... Or is she really mad after all? Absolutely terrific read, great characters, cracking pace, and gave a real feel for what it was like working at Bletchley Park in its heyday
Very good. Full of intrigue and romance. The story focuses on the friendship between 3 women who were based at Bletchley Park during the war and how their friendship lasted after the war and how some secrets will affect this relationship.
I love reading historical fiction about places I’ve been and The Rose Code didn’t disappoint. The description within the plot was spot on, I could picture it all which enabled the story to come alive from the pages. The author did this without over doing it which some writers can do.
The characters were believable, the story flowed and I couldn’t get enough.
I would highly recommend this book to friends to read and enjoy. I was sorry it ended. Please write a sequel.
This was a brilliant book or "topping" to quote one of the characters. I stayed up late needing to finish it. Beth Mab and Osla are unlikely billet mates during the second World War, but they join in the war effort, and the novel becomes so exciting that, as I said, I had to finish. It is a real page turner, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting a good novel, since it would appeal to most people. Thank you for giving me a free copy to netgalley and the publishers.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for sending me an early copy of one of my most anticipated books of this year.
Kate Quinn is one of my favourite authors, and she did not disappoint with this latest edition of historical fiction and set in WWII - I’m actually writing this review whilst listening to my ol’ favourite Glenn Miller.
Whilst this was not as gut wrenching as The Alice Network nor were the characters as compelling as those in The Huntress (my hear beats for Nina alone) this was an absolutely stunning piece of historical fiction, and in my eyes, another triumph by the ever wonderful Kate Quinn. There were plot twists, most of which I could see coming, but there were a few that felt like a punch to the gut when they did surface. My dog had to comfort me numerous times.
The friendship and found family aspect of Osla, Beth and Mab was a lovely thing to be mixed into, the romances were believable and not shoved down our throats, The historical details and the precision with which Quinn delivers them to the page made confusing things such as the Enigma code cracking seem relatively easy - you can tell the amount of research that went into this book and it was just a delight from beginning to end.
Kate Quinn is one author I would happily read for the rest of my life.
Trigger Warnings for racial slurs, sexist slurs, attempted gang rape, domestic violence between parent and child, poor conditions in sanatoriums towards mental health patients, in depth descriptions of bomb injuries, and loss of loved ones.
An engrossing and fascinating book exploring the secret lives of the women at Bletchley Park, many of whom have never divulged they worked there. Three very different women are thrown together having been chosen to work at a mysterious place in the middle of nowhere. Osla a society heiress who ends up dating a Greek Prince named Phillip, Mab from the east end who is determined to make something of herself and Beth the spinster daughter of the house they are sent to lodge at. War and enforced secrecy bring pressures to their relationship - those who work at Bletchley only know what they do not what anyone else does. The appalling working conditions ,pressures and odd characters are all beautifully realised and you can imagine yourself amongst them at times. The novel starts with a mysterious coded letter sent to Osla after the war demanding help ,we learn then that the three are estranged but need to work together to expose the traitor in their midst. The dual timeline helps rack up the tension especially towards the end - will the message be deciphered using the Rose Code, which needs unfurling petal by petal.
It’s always gratifying when your first encounter with an author is engaging and absorbing, so it was with growing pleasure that I turned the pages of The Rose Code and found myself drawn into the intense atmosphere of Bletchley Park during the dark days of World War 2. My interest in the period had been piqued by reading a range of factual accounts and biographies of what was then the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park. Basing a novel around such a famous and historic setting, however, does not guarantee a good read. indeed, some other novels that borrowed the Bletchley setting have not lived up to the promise of the real drama that played out there. No such criticism can be levelled at The Rose Code; it has all the elements you want from a novel that will entertain and engage the reader: well constructed characters; a plot that stands up to scrutiny and only occasionally pushes at the boundaries of plausibility; a genuinely relentless building of drama and tension as the plot develops; and a denouement that nicely resolves the different threads of the story.
Readers familiar with the Bletchley Park story will be pleased to encounter some of the well known characters whose work contributed so much to the Allied victory in 1945. In passing, it’s worth commenting on the risk that an author takes when introducing historical figures as characters in a novel; this is particularly the case when, as in The Rose Code, the events are still, at the time of writing, within living memory. Happily, Ms Quinn has steered a careful path and has, for the most part, avoided the pitfalls that this plot device brings in its train. This reviewer will be surprised if many readers fail to find themselves reading beyond the time they expected to put the book/Kindle to one side - it is that good. Highly recommended!
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