The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
- Audible Audio, 2021
- Narrated by Saskia Maarleveld
One of my reading goals for this year was to read more historical fiction, and this choice is definitely a winner. I’ve listened to the audiobooks of two of Quinn’s earlier novels—The Alice Network (2017) and The Huntress (2019)—so I had high expectations for this one. The Rose Code not only met but exceeded my expectations.
This is a Big Book: The hardcover edition contains 624 pages that provide Quinn ample space to develop the three main characters, Osla, Mab, and Beth. Quinn’s great strength as an author of historical fiction is her ability to create both interesting, well-rounded characters, and the vivid settings and circumstances in which they’re enmeshed.
Despite the book’s length, the story never flags. The intricate plot makes good use of the war setting’s emphasis on urgency and secrecy to create and maintain suspense.
Life Stories in Literature
we are what we remember
inside vs. outside stories
hidden identities & secrets
creating/controlling one’s own narrative
alternate life options
turning points/life decisions
when/how lives intersect
multiple points of view
change your story, change your life
The novel’s length also allows it to explore fully the many Life Stories in Literature themes that form its backbone. The lives of three young women, initially so different in class and aspirations, all intersect in their work at Bletchley Park. There, the circumstances of history allow each to recognize and develop her particular skills in working together toward both personal and national goals. All of the book’s characters are changed by their experiences during this dramatic period in history.
Reading the novels of Kate Quinn has raised my interest in further exploring historical fiction, a genre that I have read only sporadically in the past. I’m glad I picked up a paperback copy of Quinn’s 2022 novel The Diamond Eye the last time I was in a bookstore.
© 2023 by Mary Daniels Brown