Book Review: The Rose Code
By Alexis Mercer
I read somewhere the other day “this is my summer of no”. The author (who I unfortunately can’t find again) went on to say that she had reached the point where she was just saying no to any engagements that she didn’t feel like doing. That the pandemic had changed her from an overcommitted adult, unable to politely decline, into someone who was empowered to say no.
I read those words on social media before setting down my phone and diving into the world of The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. This historical fiction novel is set during World War II England with three vibrant women from vastly different walks of life as main characters who all find themselves working at the now infamous Bletchley Park in the top-secret task of decoding messages from the enemy.
The tale weaves back and forth from the days leading up to the marriage of Prince Philip with the future Queen Elizabeth to the early years of 1940.
Osla Kendall, Mab Churt and Beth Finch. Brilliant, strong women who all want to do their part to help with the war. They are pulled together through circumstance, but the course of tragic events rips them apart for years - until one coded message alters that path one more time.
Everything about this book was gripping. The plot, the characters, the history behind the tale. What struck me most as I read was just how realistic it all felt. Of course I could never know what it was like to actually live during WWII, but thanks to the magnificent writing of Quinn I felt the pain, longing, pride and fear of the characters as if it was my own. In the Author’s Note at the conclusion of the story, I learned just how much of the book was based on real people and fact.
This book was so obsessively good, I found myself saying my own “nos” to read it. Instead of rushing around and overcommitting, I gave myself a few hours each day to curl up in a chair and live in the world of ‘The Bletchley Park Girls’. If every book I read this summer is as enthralling, I’ll be finding it easier and easier to say more nos.
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