Martin's Must Reads: 'The Rose Code'
“In the autumn of 1939, Hitler’s advance seemed unstoppable. German military communications were related using hand ciphers, teleprinter codes, and above all Enigma machines - portable cipher devices that scrambled orders into nonsense so they could be relayed via Morse code over radio transmitters, then unscrambled in the field. Germany thought Enigma was unreadable. They were wrong.”
I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and that’s the introduction to Kate Quinn’s newest historical novel The Rose Code. Mab aced her typing test in secretarial school and Osla speaks French, German and English. They meet at the train station that takes them to Bletchley Park where they’ve been summoned to help England win the war by breaking German military codes.
At the home where they are billeted they meet insecure Beth who can solve a crossword puzzle in minutes. They recommend her for work at Bletchley. Much of the story is about the amazing and intense work that hundreds of people do unbeknownst to the outside world. They all sign the Official Secrets Act document promising not to share their work with anyone outside even their respective departments. It’s how they follow this edict with each other that tears them apart.
Sprinkled among the chapters on their work are chapters devoted to the upcoming wedding of Queen Elizabeth to Prince Philip, formerly a love interest of Osla. The story takes on a real urgency when, after the war, it’s of national importance that the Rose Code be broken.
If you’re looking for a book that sheds light on the amazing work the British code breakers accomplished shortening WWII by two years, then you must read The Rose Code by Kate Quinn.