The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

This is the second book I have read by Kate Quinn and I am going to be in the minority here when I say I found it mediocre at best. I read The Alice Network a couple of years ago for a book club and didn’t really like it, either . The spying plots in both books are too simplistic and as one other GR reviewer noted about The Rose Code, the bad guy basically shows up about 100 pages from the end and announces himself. Color me disappointed.  

The first page of the novel, set in England, has a character wearing a robe, which should have been called a dressing gown and I just couldn’t get past it.  This detail bothered me because it makes me ask the question, if you couldn’t be bothered to get this right, what else is not right? Weirdly, later in the book the term dressing gown is used, so continuity?

The characters are individually interesting, but the relationships are underdeveloped, especially the main female friendship. The conflict is contrived and feels forced. Though I appreciate the attempt to include slang from the time, it was more than a trifle overdone.  I think if I see “chuff,” “topping,” or “talk slush” again in the near future, I will “crock up.”

The book is too long and should have been edited for pacing and fluff.  It clocks in at just under 600 pages, and could easily have been reduced to 400 without sacrificing story.  Since this is my second disappointment with Ms. Quinn, I will plan on leaving her tomes to other readers in the future.

Spoilers to follow… the ending, in which the Bletchley Park gang reunites to unmask the traitor, or more accurately, decode a message that would provide the proof they needed, borders on the ridiculous. The message wouldn’t have named him, it would have used a code name, so it wouldn’t have been proof unless they had some corroborating evidence.  

Bottom line, this novel is more for Romance fans who want a little historical flavor than for Historical Fiction fans.  If you want to read about WWII and Cold War female spies, stick with (nonfiction) Agent Sonya by Ben MacIntyre.

Published by Robin Henry

Independent Scholar and Book Coach specializing in Historical Fiction and Literary Fan Fiction.

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