This absolutely delightful novel of WWII Bletchley Park is marvelously researched and skillfully plotted. I’m a true nut for codes and ciphers, but you don’t have to be to enjoy it. The plot centers around three very different British women, each of whom served at Bletchley but in different capacities: one, a shy spinster-in-the-making with little education but with a cryptographer’s brilliance, the second a tall Amazon whose main asset was the height to operate the top levels of the bombe machine, and the third, a wealthy debutante/linguist who has a dalliance with Prince Phillip.
The relationships among the women change drastically throughout the book and bring human interest to the forefront of the story. It is about the very human and very British victims of the Nazi bombing and threat to invade, not a technical treatise on the Enigma cipher machine. At the same time, the operations of Bletchley Park and its enormous contribution to the Allied victory are richly detailed. I learned more about the nuts and bolts of how it all worked from this novel than I have from reading several dry non-fiction works about it. Don’t let my enthusiasm for that part dissuade you from reading the book as pure fiction. It’s full of love, suspense, violence, humor, and tragedy. It is every bit a war story worth reading.