The Rose Code by New York Times best-selling author Kate Quinn is a fascinating look at the dedication and brilliance of the British Code Breakers during World War II. The Bletchley Park mansion housed the top-secret Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) whose employees were able to break the German Enigma codes, as well as several other code types. These employees endured six-day-a week rotating schedules that were often grueling.
The story focuses on three unlikely friends. First, there is the socialite Osla, who happens to be dating Prince Philip. Next, there is Mab, a hardworking commoner who is looking for a husband and also hiding a secret. Finally, there is Beth, a socially inept but highly intelligent young woman.
The story starts in 1947, shortly before the wedding of Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth. Osla and Mabe each receive a coded message from Beth demanding their help. Beth was forcefully put into an insane asylum three years earlier after she was able to decode part of a message known as The Rose Code. Beth knows there was a traitor at Bletchley Park, but doesn’t know who it was. The three women had stopped being friends after a tragic incident, and now need to decide if they will come together to solve the mystery.
The story travels back and forth between the women’s time at Bletchley Park beginning in 1940 to the days leading up to the Royal Wedding. The back-stories of the three main characters are interwoven with both real and other fictional characters who worked in the war effort. The ending of the book is pure Hollywood with a heart-stopping chase scene that takes place among the throngs of people who have lined the streets for the wedding festivities. I loved it!
Kate Quinn is one of my favorite authors. She really shines with this story that has well-researched history blended seamlessly with romance, friendship, and intrigue.
This is a LONG book. I listened to the audio which was 15 hours and 40 minutes long. The hardback is 656 pages. While I am not typically a fan of big books, I enjoyed every minute of this one. The audio is read by Saskia Maarleveld who also narrated Kate’s Quinn’s The Huntress and The Alice Network.
5-plus stars. Book Club recommended. This novel will be released on March 9, 2021. Thank you to NetGalley and HarperAudio for my Advance copy of this fabulous book.
As of January 16, 2021, Amazon has the preorder of the Kindle and Hardback on sale. I keep this site ad-free and I do not make any money off affiliate links.
The story has been optioned to Black Bear Productions, which also produced the movie The Imitation Game. As Ms. Quinn reminds her readers “a film option isn’t a guarantee that a book will make it to the screen–it’s just the first step in a very long process.” Personally, I would rather it be a limited mini-series so there is more time for character development.