Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to turn the blog tour for this new historical fiction fiction book. Thank you to Harper Collins for a digital proof copy via NetGalley to read and review.
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.
This is the first book I’ve read by Kate Quinn and I will be looking to read more of her books in the future. As a regular reader of historical fiction books, I loved the sound of the synopsis of this book, especially the setting of Bletchley Park.
As the book starts, we find out about how three girls from three very different backgrounds who came to work at Bletchley Park. We also discover that one of them is locked away in an asylum and she needs help to escape and to find out how the real traitor was.
This book features many stories within the main story. Osla is a debutante, battling to prove how clever she is as a linguist. Mab is determined to put her past behind her and find a way out of poverty. Beth needs to escape her bully of a mother and use her problem solving skills to help the war effort. The story covers romance, aspirations, a literary club, dedication to work, heartbreak, mental health and a traitor in their midst.
The book is full of historical detail and emotions, the highs of cracking a code and the lows of losing a loved one. At the end of the book the author explains how she based the book on real people, determined to ensure that this part of the war effort isn’t lost behind secrecy laws.
Although the workers at Bletchley Park were in less physical danger than the soldiers, sailors and aircrew during the war, the book reminds us about how their determination to succeed led to mental health issues for many of the workers, and a lifelong fear about betraying secrets.
This was an enjoyable read and a book I didn’t want to put down, an excellent way to spend a lockdown weekend. Happy to recommend to readers of historical fiction and/or readers of how women helped win the war.
Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia.