Review: The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

I have only read a handful of Kate Quinn’s books, and while I have enjoyed them, it wasn’t until I read The Alice Network that I really fell in love with her books. After reading The Alice Network, I saw that The Rose Code was coming out and I knew that I had to get my hands on this one.

Not only did I love the idea of women code breakers but Quinn’s writing ability has really grown over her books so I was so excited to check this one out! Quinn is a great writer but the polish she put in The Alice Network really shined and I was eager to check this one out and I have also bought a copy of The Huntress to read soon!

Quinn has a wide range of historical novels that she has written, some are set in ancient Rome, some during the Borgia era, and of course now WWII. Clearly she loves history and all of her novels have been well researched but her WWII era novels seem to have a little something extra special about them which is why I was so thrilled to read The Rose Code!


The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network returns with another heart-stopping World War II story of three female code breakers at Bletchley Park and the spy they must root out after the war is over.

1940. 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. 

1947. 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 (summary from Goodreads)


This book started out so strong! It follows three friends, Beth, Osla, and Mab as they work at the top secret Bletchley Park during the war. Each character’s story is strong, as are the three personalities. For me personally, I liked Osla the best. She seemed the most approachable of the three. She was intelligent and sassy, someone who I could see myself being friends with. Then you had Mab who I just didn’t care for at all. She was this scrappy, rags to riches sort of character with a darker history and while I should have loved her, I found her personality off putting to some degree. Lastly, there was Beth who was meek and quiet but fiercely intelligent although she was one of those intelligent people that just couldn’t understand social queues etc and I had a hard time relating to.

While I might not have loved each of the characters, they were all well written, developed and thought out. And together they all worked well together and even though I didn’t love every single characters, I felt fully invested in their stories. Often when there are a lot of main characters, I find myself drawn to just one story line but in this one I felt equally interested in all of their stories.

I loved getting to know how things worked at Bletchley Park and what their secret facility did behind the scenes. It was exciting and historically so captivating. I loved that aspect of this novel and again I saw the same polish in this one that I have seen in Quinn’s other WWII novels. Bletchley Park and all the characters (central and minor) were colorful, well thought out, explained, and researched. I loved so many parts of this novel, but I have to say, the ending was abrupt considering all the build up that went into it.

The ending felt rushed and I would have liked to have explored some of the reasons the traitor had for betraying their country and I would have liked to have seen a little more justice, it felt rather open ended. I thought things wrapped up a little too neatly and again, just too quickly. I would have liked to have seen maybe one less leading female part so that the author only had to wrap up two main plots rather than three. I mean, it wasn’t horrible by any means, but considering how much built up went into identifying the traitor, I would have liked to have seen a little more resolution and time devoted to the ending.

So where does that leave me for a rating? Well I loved the story and the content was so interesting and I especially loved the epilogue. It was a great story overall with realistic, flawed characters who really had nothing in common except love of country who had to work together. But yet they became a family, so the story was beautiful in that regard. But the ending just didn’t do it justice. Ultimately I went with 4.5 stars because it was a great book just wished the ending would have been a little less rushed.

Book Info and Rating

ebook, 656 pages

Expected publication: March 9th 2021 by William Morrow Paperbacks

ISBN0062943480 (ISBN13: 9780062943484)

Free review copy provided by publisher, William Morrow Books in partnership with Bibliolifestyle, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Genre: historical fiction


2 thoughts on “Review: The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

  1. Interesting. I didn’t think the ending was rushed, but if that’s how you felt, that’s understandable. I loved it from start to finish, and so far, it is my favorite book of 2021 (with The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin a VERY close second).

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