The Rose Code is a story involving the code breakers at Bletchley Park, during World War 2. I have always been enthralled by the wartime history of Bletchley Park. It’s now due for publication on March 18th. This book came from the publishers via Netgalley, and I am really, really grateful to them. I’m not sure whether the non-fiction Bletchley books I have on my bookcase and Kindle will live up to this exciting adventure.

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

The Rose Code

by Kate Quinn


As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.


As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter–the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger–and their true enemy–closer… 

My Review

After Dangerous Women last week, we go into even more dangerous waters this.

I’ve always been fascinated by the events at Bletchley Park during the war. Maybe I should take myself up there. After this book, though, I really feel glad I wasn’t swallowed up by that machine.

We are thrown into the phoney war and see what Osla, Mab and Beth are up to at home. Then we switch to post-war, to the days leading up to the Royal Wedding. That’s Princess Elizabeth, with five years to go before she becomes queen, and Prince Philip. My friend Dawn described him as a hot totty at an exhibition we saw of his war career when visiting Sandringham House!

The use of real events is a masterful stroke. It is so easy for the reader to associate with these people. Even writing this, I feel tension in my shoulders as I worry for them, will I do them justice here? It is really hard to believe they might not be real. The way Kate Quinn gets into the hearts and minds of all these characters is a tour de force. The setting is certainly a character, nowhere else would be the same. (Euston station plays its part well, too).


The characters and the story gripped me so much that I had to force myself to take breaks. I was deeply involved in the work, the concentration, the messages passing through the girls’ hands. They were unable to mention them to anyone, not even among themselves, only to those in their own small sections. And total secrecy of what they did, or where, when outside. And as for Beth’s situation: in attempting to crack the Rose Code she has landed herself in deep trouble. Os and Mab have to solve it (surely they will do something) in the Royal wedding era. There’s a word involved here that scared the bejasus out of me the first time I discovered what it was. It’s worse to me than a dozen ordinary chambers of horrors.

The stakes are incredibly high, both for the country and for themselves. The Rose Code – a masterful work by Kate Quinn. This MUST be the book of the year. I don’t think I could stand it not being. Completely brilliant.

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn; gripping, scary, terrifying. "The Rose Code is masterfully written by Kate Quinn. This MUST be the book of the year." #bletchleypark #TheRoseCode @netgalley #suspense Share on X

Book Review | The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
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8 thoughts on “Book Review | The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

  • 6 March, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    I’ve read other good reviews of this book, and one of our big box stores, Costco, is carrying it. Wish I could get mine into Costco!

  • 7 March, 2021 at 12:14 pm

    Hi Jemima – it sounds like a very interesting read – I’ll keep an eye open for it … thanks for highlighting the Rose Code – all the best – Hilary

  • 8 March, 2021 at 6:00 am

    It sounds like a fantastic book–but “terrifying” just isn’t a descriptor I can cope with these days. I’ll let you enjoy this one for me!

    • 8 March, 2021 at 6:51 am

      The inhumanity of early 20th century psychiatry… that’s the most terrifying part.

  • 9 April, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    I’ve had your review in my email-inbox for some time. The Rose Code is one of my must read books as I’m a fan of Kate Quinn ever since listening to the Alice Network. The Huntress was also awesome – one I’d listen to on audible too. Anyway, your review confirms my decision to get the Rose Code on audible…and reading this one the day that Prince Philip died is sad and strange.

    • 9 April, 2021 at 9:40 pm

      I think the depiction of the Prince in this book is life-affirming. I just watched an excellent Channel 4 documentary about him (by Brian? Frei), and it’s clear his younger days fit this profile by Kate Quinn. A sad day, but one that had to come sooner rather than later. Just a shame he didn’t get to the big one in just two months time.

      • 9 April, 2021 at 9:48 pm

        Yes, sad he didn’t live until his century and a telegram. I once almost got to meet him as I was at a carriage driving event where he was near the top of the leaderboard, but I chickened out of interviewng him – same with his grand-daughter Zara. But I chatted with Princess Anne a couple of times, when she bought photos from me.

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