The Rose Code, by Kate Quinn

Heartfelt thanks to my friend and colleague Leah Gordon for recommending this wonderful novel!

The Rose Code is a remarkable work of historical fiction, focusing primarily on three invented characters—together with a supporting cast of real-life ones, such as Alan Turing, Dilly Knox, and Prince Philip. As you may guess from the title and the previous sentence, the book is about cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park during World War II.

So what would you want to know about any historical novel? Primarily you want to know about the story: is it compelling, are the characters developed effectively, is the setting vivid and convincing, is the plot plausible and absorbing, are the historical details accurate? Fortunately the answers to all these questions are “yes”! I’m not a great expert on Bletchley and the cryptological work done there, but I know a reasonable amount about it, and everything rang true in The Rose Code. The surrounding setting of England in the Blitz definitely rang true. I was warned ahead of time that there was a certain amount of romance in the novel, but neither the quantity nor the quality turned out to be offensive. Perhaps that was just due to author Quinn, or perhaps it was to the credit of skilled audiobook narrator Saskia Maarleveld, as I “read’ this book by listening to the audiobook version.

Eventually you’ll guess who the traitor is. Yes, there’s a traitor at Bletchley! But you probably won’t guess until just before all is revealed—perhaps only 10–20 pages before that point.

Needless to say, gentle reader, I highly recommend The Rose Code to you.

Categories: Books, Teaching & Learning