There are few authors for whom I unhesitatingly accept a new manuscript , to read in exchange for a review. Why me? I always ask myself. “Are they desperate for reviewers, because no one else likes it? What am I going to say about it if it’s awful?” I have no such fears when it comes to Kate Quinn. I don’t think there’s a book of hers I haven’t loved. (The Alice Network, The Mistress of Rome being two of my favourites, but The Huntress being outstanding – there are not enough words for how much I loved that book).
With this one, I didn’t even read the blurb, I just dived right in. And I have to say, that is usually a good strategy for me – the less I know about the book before reading it, the better. How deliciously refreshing and fabulously entertaining this was.
Set in 1940, in England, we meet dazzling and brilliant Osla who is a whiz at languages – underestimate her at your peril; the rather drab Mab, who has exceptional typing and shorthand skills and thought it “better to live an old maid with a shiny desk and a salary in the bank, proudly achieved through the sweat of her own efforts, than end up disappointed and old before her time thanks to long factory hours and too much childbirth” and Beth, who can solve crossword puzzles in a jiffy. All spinsters, and guess where they land up together? In Buckinghamshire, at Bletchley Park, no other. Don’t they all sound delightful?
For those of you (like me) bingeing on The Crown on Netflix, there’s also a dalliance with Prince Phillip, old Dickie (Mountbatten) and many references to the actual characters featuring in that mysterious court of codebreaking, guard of military secrets and house of spies.
There’s also a royal wedding in 1947 – Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth. And a race to break some code, and rescue a friend trapped in the Clockwell Sanitorium. All rather exciting stuff for three brainy girls. Who woulda guessed they also had a part to play in the war and its aftermath?
With Kate Quinn, there is always enough mystery, romance, plot, danger and intrigue to keep you glued. Not to mention the intricate and complex relationships between heroines with no end of talent for adventure. Which is as well, because at 656 pages this had me loving every one.
5 scintillating stars from me.