Friday, March 12, 2021

Book Review: The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

Pages: 656
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: March 9, 2021
Publisher:William Morrow
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Alice Network
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, 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. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart. 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. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger--and their true enemy--closer..."


Osla Kendall isn't your typical debutante for 1940; she is being recruited by Bletchley Park, which is a sprawling country estate that secretly trains people to break German codes.  Osla, who is Prince Philip's girlfriend, is fluent in German, so this will come in handy.  While on the train to Bletchley Park, she meets Mab Churt, who is entirely different than her and will become her roommate.  Mab doesn't come from money, but she is well read and determined to rise.   They are staying in the village at a local family's home and that is how they meet Beth.  Beth's mother treats her as if she is dim witted and makes her practically her servant, but Beth isn't daft.  She is quite the opposite despite what her mother tells her.  The three girls quickly become friends and before they know it, Beth is working at Bletchley Park as well.  The story also jumps to 1947, which is the year of Queen Elizabeth's wedding.  It's also the year that Osla and Mab receive a cryptic letter that puts these three women back together again despite the war being over.  Kate Quinn's The Rose Code is a brilliant historical read that kept me captivated.

When there are three strong women in a story, sometimes I am drawn to one woman's story over another, but that wasn't the case in The Rose Code. I really enjoyed all three women, their diverse backgrounds, and all they had to offer.  Osla is dating Prince Philip, so I loved that aspect of the story despite the fact that we all know how that ends.  I found her to be really captivating and not your typical debutante.  Mab was also interesting in that she grew up poor, but was determined to make something of herself, including finding a suitable husband.  She has some secrets she wants to hide from, but war time has a way of uncovering everyone's secrets.  Also, I felt sorry for Beth in The Rose Code. Her mother is a nightmare and I couldn't wait for her to escape her clutches and to realize how much she really does have to offer. While I didn't always agree with her decisions, I really enjoyed her story and how she was one of the first female cryptanalysts.

Quinn brings Bletchley Park to life and the ins and outs of code breaking in The Rose Code. I was completely enthralled by the idea that women and men worked together to break German military codes and in turn, saved lives. Readers can tell that Quinn really researched this topic, because the historical details were outstanding. I loved every aspect of the code breaking and following along to see if they could crack the codes. However, there's a traitor right in front of their noses and things certainly get crazy. In 1947, the women start wondering who exactly is the traitor and who can they trust?

My only issue with The Rose Code was the length. It is a really long read and at some points the place slowed down a bit and got repetitive, but overall, the plot was gripping, the characters were well done, and the story was memorable. It's everything you could want in a historical read.  If you are a historical fiction fan, don't miss The Rose Code.

Are you a fan of Kate Quinn? Is The Rose Code on your TBR list? Let me know in the comments below.




  1. These really sound like some fascinating, unique characters!

    1. They really are! I hope you get to read this one soon! Thanks for visiting, Angela!

  2. Huge fan of code breakers in history. So this book is definitely on my list. I'm so happy it's well worth it!

    1. Me too! I was really into that portion of the novel. I hope you get to read this soon! Thanks for visiting, Joy!

  3. Fantastic compelling read.


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