THE ROSE CODE, read by Saskia Maarleveld, is one of my favorite audiobooks of 2021. (Saskia also read THE HUNTRESS and is a master of accents—both male and female.)
A fast-paced, high-stakes story about betrayal and redemption, this character-driven historical novel is set near my childhood home. (When one of the characters mentioned Bedford in the opening pages, I squealed.) Even more amazing? We lived about 20 minutes from Bletchley Park, and I didn’t know it existed until I was in my thirties.
As the story weaves between 1940 and the eve of the Royal Wedding in 1947, we meet three unforgettable, but very different women. Osla comes from a life of privilege, happens to date a dashing young Prince Philip, and is desperate to escape the label of ditzy debutante. Mab, a working-class Londoner, is trying to run from her past by finding a wealthy husband. Beth is a shy spinster trapped in the village of Bletchley with a toxic, abusive mother. All three have intellectual gifts that make them perfect hires for Bletchley Park, where the best minds in England undertake top-secret work breaking German codes.
The three young women become close friends, but as tragedy and stress take their toll, an insidious force is at work—a traitor. This person engineers a split between the women that ends with Beth locked up in an insane asylum, where she poses no risk to the official secrets’ act. Alone with nothing but time, Beth, a brilliant cryptanalyst, works to crack the ultimate puzzle: Who betrayed her and her country?
With the clock ticking—no spoilers!—Beth manages to sneak out an encrypted message to her former friends. But will they listen?
Also—best ending ever. So, so good!