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The Rose Code


The Rose Code

During World War II, three unique yet conscientious women --- Mabel “Mab” Churt, Osla Kendall and Bethan “Beth” Finch --- met while working as codebreakers at Bletchley Park in England. Since they were all sworn to secrecy, they quickly formed not only enduring friendships but also unbreakable bonds. But, when tested, will their greatest loyalties lie with their country or each other?

“Are not there little chapters in everybody’s life...that seem to be nothing, and yet affect all the rest of history?”

Mab was born into a working-class family but strived to do better for herself and her much younger sister, Lucy. Beth, a 24-year-old spinster, was extremely shy but dares to break free from her overbearing mother who loves to belittle her. As a debutante, Osla mixes with England’s elite, and, to add interest to intrigue, she is dating none other than the dashing Prince Philip of Greece (yes, I do mean Queen Elizabeth II’s future husband!), but she is oh-so-tired of being called a “silly deb.”

"Knowing that many of the characters were based on real, historic figures enriched the story, and, as usual, Quinn’s attention to detail was astonishing."

“All she wanted in this world was to prove herself, prove once and for all that a Mayfair giggler who’d curtsied to the kind in pearls and plumes could poker up in wartime and serve as well as anyone else.”

After loving Kate Quinn’s THE HUNTRESS and THE ALICE NETWORK, THE ROSE CODE was one of my most anticipated reads of 2021. Knowing that many of the characters were based on real, historic figures enriched the story, and, as usual, Quinn’s attention to detail was astonishing. Since I have read numerous novels set during WWII, I loved that this one focused mostly on female codebreakers, a new topic for me.

Alternating between 1940 (during the war) and 1947 (after the war and just days before the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary to Philip Mountbatten), THE ROSE CODE is full of emotion and suspense. The first chapter grabbed my interest with mention not only of the upcoming wedding but also of a mysterious letter written in code from a woman currently being held in a sanatorium. Who is she, and why is she there?

This richly detailed story contains background information about the confidential, codebreaking activity at Bletchley Park, the friendship among the three women and, of course, their love interests. Despite their strong loyalties to each other, they also experienced rifts and disagreements, piquing my interest even more. Who betrayed whom, and why? About halfway through the book, the pace suddenly picked up, and revelation after revelation arrived with dizzying speed. I felt like Beth as she worked feverishly to break the rose code, the toughest code of them all. Ciphers are “tricky, tricky stuff. Reminds me of a rose, petals overlapping downward toward the core.”

I was utterly immersed in this complex, multilayered story and loved witnessing the interactions and camaraderie formed between the multifaceted characters as they embraced their new careers, found and lost love, and formed unbreakable bonds.

“Duty, honor, oaths --- they are not just for soldiers. Not just for men.”

If you need me, I’ll be lounging on the couch nursing a massive book hangover with a cup of English tea and a stack of Kate Quinn’s backlist of titles!

Reviewed by Rebecca Wasniak on March 12, 2021

The Rose Code
by Kate Quinn

  • Publication Date: March 9, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0062943472
  • ISBN-13: 9780062943477