They will dedicate their lives to their country, but no one will ever know…
A compelling story about tenacity and friendship, inspired by the real codebreaking women of Australia’s top-secret Central Bureau in WWII. For readers who love Judy Nunn and Kate Quinn.
1943, Brisbane: The war continues to devastate and the battle for the Pacific threatens Australian shores. For Ellie O’Sullivan, helping the war effort means utilising her engineering skills for Qantas as they evacuate civilians and deliver supplies to armed forces overseas. Her exceptional logic and integrity attract the attention of the Central Bureau-an intelligence organisation working with England’s Bletchley Park codebreakers. But joining the Central Bureau means signing a lifetime secrecy contract. Breaking it is treason.
With her country’s freedom at risk, Ellie works with a group of elite women who enter a world of volatile secrets; deciphering enemy communications to change the course of the war. Working under immense pressure, they form a close bond-yet there could be a traitor in their midst. Can the women uncover the culprit before it’s too late?
As Ellie struggles with the magnitude of the promise she’s made to her country, a wedge grows between her and those she holds dear. When the man she loves asks questions she’s forbidden to answer, how will she prevent the double life she’s leading from unravelling?
***Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.
enjoyable/easy to read:
The best parts in The Codebreakers were about the relationships between the women working together for Central Bureau and Ellie’s relationships with Mrs Hanley and Kat. They were an eclectic cast of characters and they all added something special to the story. I definitely found their contributions interesting and wanted to keep reading to find out more.
The hardest part for me was trying to understand the timeline. Paragraphs would jump days or weeks or months without warning. There were occasional dates, seemingly at random, but not enough for consistency. It made it difficult to comprehend how much time had passed between events unless it was specifically mentioned. Overall, this led to it feeling like an emotional summary of the people left behind during the war where the love stories feel inconsequential because I could never tell how much time had passed. There were times when couples felt forced together despite a lack of chemistry or a common belief system or even a spark of interest.
The parts about the actual work these women were doing were incredible. I wanted to get all up in the minutiae of their daily tasks, the intelligence they collected, and the effect they had on the war. I also liked how much of the story focused on the role of secrecy in their work and how it bled into their lives and relationships. It painted a clear picture of how and why the women working together became so close; there was no one else who had any idea what they did every day and they could be totally honest with. It’s easy to see how they could have signed up for this role, understanding the need to keep their work secret, but expecting to be able to go back to their normal lives at the end of the war.
I was real keen for this one; women working intelligence during the war sounded super interesting. I’ve read a lot of stories about the war based primarily in European countries, so it was definitely unique reading one based in Brisbane. There was a lot of potential here and the story covered a lot of people over a long period of time. I guess I was hoping for more about the day-to-day intelligence work and less about the year-to-year emotional camaraderie and superfluous love stories.
"The choice has been made, regardless of what we want," said Ellie. "Just like so many other things taken out of our hands because we're women. Women's suffrage may have brought us the vote, but it hasn't given us a voice or made us visible. Not yet, anyway."