I thought I had it up to HERE reading books that take place during World War II. I’ve read about this war from the perspectives of the British, the Americans, the French, and the Italians. What more could I possibly read?
The Rose Code, by historical novelist extraordinaire Kate Quinn, offered me a new perspective on a platter — a novel about the brilliant men and (mostly) women who worked at Bletchley Park, where the people who broke German military codes supposedly shortened the war by years.
The Rose Code features three very different female protagonists. There is Osla, a rich debutante who was presented to society in front of the king and queen. She yearns, however, to leave her social status behind and be something important in the world. She is dating the handsome Prince Phillip of Greece, before he becomes smitten with Princess Elizabeth.
Mab grew up poor on the the East End of London. Her childhood was difficult. She is determined to meet and marry someone who can bring her up in the world, and believes using her brains to decode military secrets can bring her towards that end.
Beth is quiet and mousy, kept ignorant of her own brilliance by an abusive mother and a father who refuses to stand up for her. She meets the other two women who are billeted at her home, and it is through them that she is brought into Bletchley Park to find and use her brilliant mind.
The three women go on to discover the presence of a traitor, and work together to expose him to the military. While doing so, they go through their individual joys and sorrows, all leading to the book’s climax.
The author gives such a wonderful picture of what went on at Bletchley Park, both the good and the bad. Being so intelligent — and doing important work on which the balance of the war could rest — created an experience of the war that is very different than others’. Insanity can lie just on the other side of brilliance.
The Rose Code will definitely be one of my favorite books — if not my favorite — of 2021.