Reviewed by Bev Scott
For historical fiction at its best and for a fabulous read, consider The Rose Code. As Britain prepares to fight Nazi Germany, three very different women enter the fray as codebreakers. Working from the mysterious country estate, Bletchley Park they are Osla, a beautiful, vivacious debutante; dominating Mab, a product of East End London poverty; and Beth, a brilliant but shy spinster. They use their wit, dedication, tenacity and grit impressively to help defeat the Nazis. Joining some of the best minds in Britain, they break the German military codes. Thus, they each commit to the top secret code of Bletchley Park. But the pressure of this secrecy and the loss and disruption of the war, ultimately destroys their friendship.
This engrossing story builds gripping tension in three threads: espionage, the delight and passion of a love story, and the betrayal of friendship. The sworn oath of secrecy demanded by the leadership and the culture of Bletchley Park exponentially increases the intensity and impact of these three threads.
Kate Quinn has researched in detail the experience and struggle of the citizens of Britain under siege from Nazi bombings. She tells us about the lives of women code breakers working at Bletchley Park with the demanding urgency of decoding German messages. The descriptions she provides create the context and contribute to the realism of this story. And, the main characters are complicated and unique. I carried them with me daily, reflecting on the challenges each one faced and wondering how she was going to handle it. When I reached the end of the book, I was sorry.
I highly recommend this engaging and beautifully written novel.