BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Rose Code’ by Kate Quinn


“The Rose Code” is an intriguing novel set with two timelines. One is in 1940  during the early years of World War II. The other is in 1947 after the war is over. 

In 1940, three women are hired to work in Bletchley Park as codebreakers. They work with some of the brightest minds to break the German codes. Bletchley Park was once the country home of Sir Herbert Leon and his family. It was for sale in 1938 and the Government Code and Cypher Department needed a home. After purchasing it, the government remodeled it and used it as a center to decode the messages produced by the Enigma machine. An interesting fact is that Kate Middleton’s grandmother, Valerie Middleton, was a code breaker at Bletchley Park. 

The story is about the three women who have been recruited to break the German codes. The three women are very different but form a friendship. Beth Finch has been beaten down by her mother and is a 24-year-old spinster. She finds her calling breaking codes and is finally happy. Osla Kendall is a debutant and a member of London’s elite. Mab Churt is from a working-class family and is striving to provide a better life for her young sister. All the women and supporting characters are based on real people.

As the book progresses, it becomes obvious that a traitor is working at Bletchley Park

In 1947, Mab is married and a mother of twins. She is trying to forget her time at Bletchley Park. Osla is keeping a low profile due to her ex-boyfriend Prince Phillip of Greece, who will soon be marrying the future Queen Elizabeth. Beth is an asylum – put there by the traitor. She has no way to reach her code-breaking friends and her family will not visit or write. Beth overhears the staff talking about her upcoming lobotomy and is horrified. She finds a way to escape and convinces her friends that she is not insane or delusional. The three women work together to find the traitor. This is a face-paced novel that keeps readers on their toes.

Kate Quinn is a master of historical fiction. Her books are thoroughly researched and historically accurate. It is a very entertaining book. I have read all of Kate Quinn’s novels and highly recommend them.

Cathy Lay Mayor grew up in Cullman and graduated from Cullman High School in 1976. She says when she writes book reviews, she tries to remember what Mrs. Gilbert taught her in 11th-grade English. She lived in Dothan for more than 30 years and is married with three adult children and six grandchildren. She retired to Panama City, but still calls Alabama home.