Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #HistoricalFiction CODE BREAKER GIRLS: A Secret Life At Bletchley Park by @JanSSlimming @penswordbooks

Codebreaker Girls: A Secret Life at Bletchley ParkCodebreaker Girls: A Secret Life at Bletchley Park by Jan Slimming

4 stars

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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Book description

“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 Following extensive research, the author uses snippets of information, unpublished photographs and her own recollections to describe scenes from her mother’s poor, but happy, upbringing in London, and the disruptions caused by the outbreak of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.

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The Secret Life Of Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay #nonfiction #WW2 #TuesdayBookBlog

The Secret Life of Bletchley Park: The WWII Codebreaking Centre and the Men and Women Who Worked ThereThe Secret Life of Bletchley Park: The WWII Codebreaking Centre and the Men and Women Who Worked There by Sinclair McKay

4 stars

The Secret Life Of Bletchley Park is a non-fiction examination of the lives of those enlisted for the vital job of deciphering coded messages during the Second World War.

Because of certain laws contained within the Official Secrets Act, and because countries around the world continued to use similar coding techniques after the war, the decoders were not allowed to speak about their experiences at Bletchley until the 1970s.

During the war, Bletchley became a nerve centre of secret information. It was the home of a mix of people drawn from many areas of society whose job was to decode messages collected from a range of listening posts across Britain and the world. The most famous of these was the Enigma coding technology, used by the German military forces.

This book reveals the lives of ordinary men and women who worked alongside pioneers like Alan Turing as they cracked codes and created decoding machines to help them with their work. Afterwards, the blanket of silence meant many missed recognition for their efforts, the comradeship of reunions and often the opportunity to tell their family about the part they played in the war.

I’ve always been interested in these coding secrets. There was plenty to keep me reading, without going into too much technical detail. This book is just one of many memoirs written by both men and women who were involved in the workings of Bletchley Park. One day I would like to visit the museum which now preserves some of their work.

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Bletchley Park was where one of the war’s most famous and crucial achievements was made: the cracking of Germany’s Enigma code in which its most important military communications were couched. This country house was home to Britain’s most brilliant mathematical brains, like Alan Turing, and the scene of immense advances in technology—indeed, the birth of modern computing. The military codes deciphered there were instrumental in turning both the Battle of the Atlantic and the war in North Africa. But, though plenty has been written about the scientists and the codebreaking, fictional and non-fiction—from Robert Harris and Ian McEwan to Andrew Hodges’ biography of Turing—what of the thousands of men and women who lived and worked there during the war? The first history for the general reader of life at Bletchley Park, this is also an amazing compendium of memories from people now in their eighties of skating on the frozen lake in the grounds (a depressed Angus Wilson, the novelist, once threw himself in), of a youthful Roy Jenkins—useless at codebreaking, of the high jinks at nearby accommodation hostels, and of the implacable secrecy that meant girlfriend and boyfriend working in adjacent huts knew nothing about each other’s work.

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