Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars
The New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network returns with another 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.
The year 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.
The year 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….
Some books are too long; others you hate to see end. This one fell under the category of the latter.
What an amazing immersion into 1940 Britain starring down the barrel of the impending fight with the Nazis!
From two wildly different backgrounds come Osla; debutante, privileged, and beautiful. She’s had the advantage of having had an exclusive education resulting in the fluency in German that puts her square into the sights of Bletchley Park. From the other side of the tracks, East End London poverty comes Mab who is hiding secrets that left scarring on her soul but not her brain and she is called to work codebreaking machines.
The two, finding a rooming house not far from Bletchley Park, are introduced to Beth—spinster, mousy Beth, kept firmly under her mother’s thumb. But she is brilliant with puzzles and both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential for her work at BP as well. It is her chance to be independent, separate from her mother, discover her worth.
The three bond quickly, each in their own niche, and find the work both incredibly difficult and rewarding at the same time. They are part of something big, monumentally big. They do astonishing work under strict secrecy laws that save a lot of lives and they manage to survive the war, their friendship intact until tragedy strikes.
The storyline splits timelines. It is now 1947 and post-war London finds the three still estranged, each having moved on in their private lives. Only Beth remains tied to the years in Bletchley Park—and she is now three years in an asylum facing a radical surgical procedure that will forever alter her life (and her memory) unless she can find the traitor that lived and worked with them in BP (and is responsible for her admission to the asylum). Osla and Mab are the only persons she can trust, who have knowledge of the conditions, and the people they worked with. She absolutely must convince them to help her.
First, the war time conditions, the rations, the bombs, even the music, and the reader is plunked into the middle of it. The three have the kind of bond somewhat experienced by their male counterparts but the rip between them was extreme. Still, something nags at them regarding the details and they all search their memories for significant moments. What if she’s right and there was a traitor? Is he still active in that position?
Was there a traitor?
The three main characters are intensely engaging and their friendship is enviable. The support characters work well, adding depth to the storyline, cementing a complete vision of the time, the area, and the tension. The well-plotted, paced narrative provides twists, snappy 40s dialogue and sensibilities. It’s complex, swinging between the timeline, and thrilling. The writing is punctuated with expressive prose.
Hooked from the beginning, you’ll find yourself lost in this book to the end. The audiobook is deliciously narrated—each of the characters so well developed—easy to visualize. I also enjoyed the epilogue—the explanation of the characters, both fictional and historical, details about the facility. The author had employed untold hours of research to make it so authentic and the narrator is amazing.
I read The Huntress in January and was totally sold on this author’s dedication to writing strong and dedicated women warriors. They are gripping entertainment.
I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local well-stocked library. These are my honest thoughts. Highly recommended.
Genre: World War II Historical Fiction, War Fiction, War & Military Fiction
Listening Length: 16 hrs 2 mins
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Publication Date: March 9, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Rose Code [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
The Author: Kate Quinn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction. A native of southern California, she attended Boston University where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. She has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance, before turning to the 20th century with “The Alice Network”, “The Huntress,” “The Rose Code,” and “The Diamond Eye.” All have been translated into multiple languages. Kate and her husband now live in San Diego with three rescue dogs.
The Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld is an experienced audiobook narrator and voice-over actress based in New York City. Raised in New Zealand and France, she is highly skilled with accents and dialects, and many of her books have been narrated entirely in accents other than her own. In addition to audiobooks, Saskia’s voice can be heard in animation, video games, and commercials. She attributes her love and understanding of reading books aloud to coming from a large family where audiobooks were the only way to get though car rides without fighting! Visit saskiamaarleveld.com to learn more.
©2023 V Williams