The Rose Code is Kate Quinn's latest book. This time she tackles Bletchley Park and the Enigma Machine. When I heard that's the setting for this newest book, I knew it was perfect for my dad. Once he was finished reading it (he loved it!) he passed it on to me. I wasn't familiar with much about the Enigma Machine and Bletchley Park, so I wasn't sure what I would think of it, but I trust Quinn's writing and was very happy to give this one a read!
The Rose Code is the story of three girls who end up working at Bletchley in various capacities: Osla, a socialite who wants to make a difference and prove to the world that she isn't just a silly deb, Mab, a girl who has been trying to better herself to snag a better life, and Beth, a timid girl who has been terrorized by her mother all her life. It follows the three through the ebbs and flows of their friendship during the war years and beyond, through heartbreak, betrayal, and redemption.
I really enjoyed the mix of personalities here (Quinn's books have all had fantastic characters!) Osla was a super bubbly person whom everyone underestimated because all the men just thought she was air headed and silly. She's based off a real person, whom a good many things that happen in the book happened to (just not the bombing she survived in a London night club). I loved her relationship with Prince Philip and was super sad when it ended (even though I knew the outcome, both from real life, and from the very beginning of the book).
Beth was also based off of real people (two ladies, rather than just one). She's quite the interesting character - she's shy and naive, while also extremely cold at times (while it's never said, I believe she is on the autistic spectrum). She was always mentally beaten down by her mom, so it was great to see her grow into her own (and realize that she is, in fact, brilliant at code breaking). The book goes back and forth between Bletchley and about two years later, when she's in a mental asylum trying to escape, so a good chunk of the book had me wondering what had happened to her for her to end up here when she was very much sane?
Many of the other characters in the book are either real people (like
Alan Turing), or based off of real people (like Giles and Harry). But
Mab is fictional, created in honour of the many women who helped keep Bletchley running. I loved Mab: she knew what she wanted and wasn't afraid to work to get it.
Oh, there was also a cameo by Ian Graham from The Huntress. I was surprised I recognized him in it (I vaguely remembered him being a war correspondent, then confirmed it was him when I read a synopsis of The Huntress). Very fun nod for people who have read her other books! ;)
While reading The Rose Code, I will admit that I saw some stuff coming before it was revealed, like the truth about Mab's relationship with Lucy, and what was going to happen to Francis. But it was okay - even knowing things were coming, they were still massively impactful as they unfolded. Also (and importantly), the book kept me guessing about who the traitor might be right to the end, so that was great, being blindsided by it. Quinn masterfully fed in how the traitor got information as well - when it was revealed, I realized I as the reader had fallen for their tricks as well!
The Rose Code was another fantastic WWII era by Quinn. I look forward to her next book, whatever it might be!