The Rose Code

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

This immersive, compelling read features an unlikely trio of friends who work at Bletchley Park during World War II, secretly trying to break the codes used by the Germans and Italians. Debutante Osla Kendall, who reads German fluently, is dating Prince Philip of Greece. On the train from London she meets ambitious Mab, a typist whose height gets her work on the machines at Bletchley Park and who is anxious to evacuate her little sister Lucy from London’s East End. Shy Beth, whose demanding mother rents Mab and Osla a room, finds her skill at crossword puzzles leads to work as a codebreaker. The strain of the work and the demand for complete secrecy affect the women’s relationships, although outlets such as their Mad Hatter book group help somewhat. In 1947 the women are no longer friends, yet Mab and Osla meet for tea in York in response to a desperate plea from Beth, who is trying to discover who framed her as a traitor. This crisis is set during the weeks, days, and hours leading up to the royal wedding of Osla’s Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth. I loved the focus on the women’s war work and found this book, with its intensifying pace, hard to put down. Only the 624 page count will keep this book from being the top pick of many book groups. Readalikes include Code Girls by Liza Mundy, The Gown by Jennifer Robson, The Secret Lives of Codebreakers by Sinclair McKay, and The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott.

Brenda

The Narrowboat Summer

The Narrowboat Summer by Anne Youngson

A howling dog on an English narrowboat brings together three women at turning points in their lives. Independent Anastasia is looking for someone to take her boat to Chester for maintenance while she deals with a health issues. Eve and Sally, who just met, decide to take up the challenge, and spend their summer on the narrowboat, with the dog. Eve has just lost her high pressure job while Sally wants a break from her marriage now that her children are grown. Eve and Sally move in and learn to pilot the boat and cope with the challenges of navigating locks and tunnels, while enjoying the leisurely pace of life on the canals. Charming, entertaining, and unforgettable, a novel of women’s friendship and the colorful characters they meet along the towpaths. This book, by the author of Meet Me at the Museum, will be published in January.

Brenda

A Quilt for Christmas

quilt christmas jacketA Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas

Eliza Spooner and her two children struggle to run their small Kansas farm after Will joins the Union Army. Eliza and her friends meet once a month to quilt and support each other, and Eliza sends Will a special down-filled quilt for Christmas. Widowed Missouri Ann and her little girl move in, and an escaped slave needs a safe place to stay. Finally, the Christmas quilt is brought home after the war in a most unexpected way. A quick read, this charming, heartwarming novel about life on the homefront during and right after the Civil War is loosely connected with The Persian Pickle Club.

Brenda