Review: The Rose Code

Well that’s wonderful. In a nutshell, it’s the story of three women who find themselves working at Bletchley Park during the height of the code breaking parts of World War II. It’s something I’ve read quite a lot about from a more technical level and I’m familiar with Alan Turing’s (the Prof’s) time there, but this is an entirely different story–and one well, well worth the read.

It’s fascinating seeing the women of Bletchly Park, with all they did for the war effort, with little to show for it. Characterwise, I love the main trio of women. Osla, ‘silly deb’ (who hates being called that) from high society; Mab, from a life of poverty, determined to find a man; and Beth, totally autistic with a brilliant mind for codes and puzzles.

From the author’s notes:

“The codebreakers worked hard and played hard, and veterans remember finding an open-mindedness at BP that was sorely lacking in ordinary life. Women enjoyed a level of equality with male coworkers that they were unlikely to get on the outside for years or decades; homosexual members tended to be tacitly acknowledged and accepted; people who would today be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder could work without being forced to mask their neurodivergence.”

The stories of the three of them, both breaking codes and breaking hearts (sorry, I had to say it) with the to me at least unsurprising twist–a traitor?! on no!–the secrecy, the romance (oh, the story of Mab and Francis), and the heartbreak. It’s a wonderful story.

I think the craziest thing to me is… several of them are based on real people. Turing of course. Prince Philip of Greece and the rest of the royal family. Dilly Knox. Osla Benning. Beth, a composite of two real women. It seems Mab was one of the few that was mostly/entirely made up.

Read it. It’s good.