Codebreaker Girls: A Secret Life at Bletchley Park by Jan Slimming
Code Breaker Girls: A Secret Life At Bletchley Park. This is a biography of Daisy Lawrence who was just one of the many women employed by the secret service during the second World War.
Written by Daisy’s daughter after her mother’s death, this book attempts to piece together the war years of Daisy’s life which she kept a secret from her family for most of her lifetime.
I would describe this as a memorial to a mother whose mental health deteriorated almost certainly because she couldn’t talk about her war work, rather than diving deep into Daisy’s role and her work on the wartime codes, and it doesn’t give much insight into the work of other lesser known women.
The author went on to set this against a background of what has been revealed about Bletchley Park and how the surrounding pre- and post-war years affected Daisy and her family.
As a piece of history this was an interesting book, and it was such a shame that Daisy died without sharing her war story with her family; so much went to the grave with her and the family can only make guesses about what she did during the war. Her years of post-war struggle and her mental breakdowns were so sad to read about, especially in the twenty-first century where mental health is now treated differently.
I did expect a different book from the book title; I thought that there would be a big expose about what a group or groups of women did there during the war, so I was disappointed that the lives of Daisy and her friends remains a secret; however, there was quite a bit that I learnt about the subject as a whole from the background information. So overall, I did enjoy the book and found plenty of information that keep me entertained.
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“What would it be like to keep a secret for fifty years? Never telling your parents, your children, or even your husband?”
Codebreaker Girls: A Secret Life at Bletchley Park tells the true story of Daisy Lawrence. Following extensive research, the author uses snippets of information, unpublished photographs and her own recollections to describe scenes from her mother’s poor, but happy, upbringing in London, and the disruptions caused by the outbreak of the Second World War to a young woman in the prime of her life.
The author asks why, and how, Daisy was chosen to work at the Government war station, as well as the clandestine operation she experienced with others, deep in the British countryside, during a time when the effects of the war were felt by everyone. In addition, the author examines her mother’s personal emotions and relationships as she searches for her young fiance, who was missing in action overseas. The three years at Bletchley Park were Daisy’s university, but having closed the door in 1945 on her hidden role of national importance — dealing with Germany, Italy and Japan — this significant period in her life was camouflaged for decades in the filing cabinet of her mind. Now her story comes alive with descriptions, original letters, documents, newspaper cuttings and unique photographs, together with a rare and powerful account of what happened to her after the war.