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…
Synopsis source: Goodreads
I really enjoyed this book! The history was one that I was familiar with but didn’t know much about, and Kate Quinn always does such a phenomenal job with her research that reading one of her historical fiction novels never fails to teach something previously unknown. When talking about women’s roles in history, that covers a lot of ground. This is just one of the reasons I love reading historical fiction written by women; they show us the types of strong, brave, intelligent women whose stories have long gone untold and gives credit where credit is due.
While the book dragged a bit at first and took a while to get going, a slow burn for sure, I enjoyed learning about the inner workings of BP and watching the women’s relationship evolve. The three women couldn’t have been more different in background or personality, but they shared an innate will of iron and loyalty. And I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t guess correctly who the mole was either, so I’m always pleased when a book can trick me. If you’ve read previous books by this author, you’ll know that she likes to give old characters a cameo in new stories, so I loved that Ian Graham, one of the main characters from Quinn’s previous book The Huntress, made a cameo in the book. Granted the time period of this book predates that one, but still, always fun!
If you enjoy historical fiction, women’s stories, and WWII period topics, this book would be right up your alley.
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