The Rose Code is a heart-stopping World War II story of three female code breakers at Bletchley Park and the spy they must root out after the war is over.
1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.
1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter–the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger–and their true enemy–closer…
The Rose Code is a story of friendship, found family, and the impacts of secrets. Kate Quinn managed to write a character-driven piece of historical fiction that is also a plot-driven thriller. Quinn’s writing and the story made this a propulsive read that also tugged at my heart strings.
I was excited when I found out that this book is a story that takes place at Bletchley Park, the secret WWII headquarters for the Allies’ codebreaking. I watched the television miniseries Bletchley Circle years ago and was disappointed that it was so short. The Rose Code helped quench my thirst for more stories of the women who helped fight the war at Bletchley Park.
The Rose Code is full of suspense while depicting complex characters and relationships. The three main characters are strong women who are very different but form a deep friendship. I am always a sucker for strong female protagonists, especially those that do not play into stereotypes. Quinn does a fantastic job with not only these characters and their development through the story but also all the other characters that fill the pages. Quinn also seamlessly transitioned between timelines – one during the war and one leading up to Queen Elizabeth’s marriage in November 1947. Across the board, I found Quinn’s writing to be captivating and immersive. In addition, I do not want to forget to mention that The Rose Code is full of suspense with a mystery at the center.
I will be adding The Rose Code to the list of historical fiction I have recently read that is based upon real people. I think it is wonderful to tell their stories and be historically accurate. I also really appreciate Quinn referencing these real people and more books about them at the end of the book.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am really looking forward to reading Kate Quinn’s backlist after devouring The Rose Code. I will be recommending this to everyone as this story has a bit of something for all readers.
The Rose Code
March 9, 2021
Note: I received an e-galley of this book through a Goodreads giveaway sponsored by the publisher, William Morrow Books. Regardless, I always provide a fair and honest review.