Cover Image: Codebreaker Girls

Codebreaker Girls

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I didn't finish the book. I found it continually going off at tangents when I actually wanted to read about Daisy's life story. Too detailed with other issues for me

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Daisy Lawrence worked at Bletchley Park, but no one knew, not her family, nor her friends. Decades later when her daughter uncovers the truth, she asks questions, finds photos, and gives us this wonderful book about her mother. Full of insights and stories, this was a hidden piece of history that has finally been given the light.

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This was an interesting book about WWII code breaking at Bletchley Park. Many of the code breakers were women, because men were off fighting. I’ve always been interested in Bletchley and what happened there. It’s based on the true story of a woman named Daisy, who never talked about it to her family. Everyone had to sign the Official Secrets Act, and I was hoping for more about the toll that keeping a secret like this would take on mental health.
Parts of the book were tedious, lots of details about filing and the machines involved. I feel the book is more about code breaking itself and less about Daisy’s story. 3 stars.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Self explanatory title. This book covers just about everything to do with Bletchley Park which I admit to skimming through as my main interest in reading this was to find out more about Daisy and the other women who were there. Lots of things didn’t really need to be included as there are several books covering the machines, the men etc for people who want to know about that side of BP. It would have been lovely to find out a bit more about Stan and his family though and also what happened to Daisy’s brother Harry afterwards. Shameful that not more was done to help the people later the ones badly affected because they were terrified of revealing something. I would definitely recommend reading this in printed form rather than e-reader due to the difficulty of reading the text in some of the illustrations. A very interesting small peep into the lives of some of the ladies who did their bit at Bletchley Park and well worth reading.

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Princess Fuzzypants here: I recently read a book on the women and men who listened for messages during WWII and then passed them on for decoding. My complaint about that book was it was too dry. I belong to the group of history buffs who think it is more than facts and figures. It is real life regular people often doing extraordinary things in remarkable times. They deserve some passion and heart.

This book serves it up in spades. In fact, it covers the lives of many of people at Bletchley during the war but it is also a highly personal journey because it tells the story of the author’s mother. The information that she was able to learn came late in life because her mother took her vow to never reveal anything to the point where it caused her grievous harm. It is heartbreaking to read of the bravery and the grit of those who worked in the huts at Bletchley giving the British and the Allies an advantage. They were sworn, obviously, to secrecy and only when the information was made available decades later, did her family learn of what she endured.

It drove her to multiple admissions to mental hospitals and a life of drugs and chaos. Only when she could finally speak about her experiences would she find any relief. So this is a story of dedication and courage but also loss and sadness. It makes this book rather special. Kudos to Daisy and all those who served with her and kudos to Jan for telling the story.

Five purrs and two paws up.

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Codebreaker Girls tells the true story about the men, but mostly women, who were breaking the codes of encrypted messages during the second world war.
The story is told through the eyes of Daisy Lawrence, one of the thousands of woman who were deciphering, cataloguing and filing messages in secret at Bletchley Park.
I found the story very interesting, especially the first and last parts of the book. I have learned a lot about what went on in England during the war.
But I also found the book hard to read at times, mainly because after the initial part that narrated how Daisy came to be at Bletchley Park and her search for information about her fiancee Stan, there was a long stretch of endless explanation about the various coding systems, filing systems that were just too detailed and most tedious of all was the endless description of a the buildings and offices and the way their names kept changing. I couldn't see how all the information about the buildings was really significant for the story.
Than at the end it got very interesting again, when the author describes her mothers struggle with keeping what she did at Bletchley secret. I never realised how this influenced a lot of peoples minds.

Well, on the whole interesting, but I can't give more than 3 stars because of the tedious parts.

I thank Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Fascinating look back in history at the Bletchley Code Girls.Loved how it reads like a novel but is a true story about these amazing women.Great for bookclub or college classes will be recommending #netgalley#penn&&sword

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There are two good reasons why I wanted to read this book. Firstly, I became interested in Bletchley Park (BP) when I learned that my grandfather had apparently worked there during the war. This is a man I know little about because he died before I was born. Secondly, I recently finished a fiction series set during World War One at the forerunner to BP; Room 40 at the Old Admiralty Building in London. Because Codebreaker Girls is about the women who were at BP, the author’s mother in particular, I didn’t expect it to reveal much about my grandfather’s life, but it promised to tell me something about the people who did work there.

Codebreaker Girls starts with Daisy’s early years in south London, leaving at school at 14 to go to work wasn’t unusual. She had a good grasp of mathematics, which enabled her to move from a shop floor job to a clerical one. Since the other side of my family is also from south London, this gave me an insight into how their lives might’ve been like in the time between the two wars. Readers learn how she met her fiancée and how he proposed to her. From there, we read how both became involved in the war. Stan joined up to fight, and she found herself at Bletchley Park and signing the Official Secrets Act.

Mixed in with the story of BP – and the processes involved with breaking codes, much of which went over my head – is the story of how Daisy and thousands of other people attempted to discover what happened to their friends and family members after the fall of Singapore. The Japanese offered little, if any, information about the soldiers they captured, and Stan’s daughter offers an explanation that the Japanese didn’t understand the notion of surrender and how families might want to have news of those who did so. There’s also information about rationing, and a short section on how Daisy’s nieces and nephew were evacuated away from the capital.

The most harrowing part of the book, however, looks at Daisy’s life post war. Trapped by secrets she couldn’t share, and a husband who didn’t know – and could never know – what she did while he was trapped behind enemy lines, her mental state changed. Because of the secrecy, those who worked at Bletchley Park weren’t properly acknowledged. They couldn’t receive the medals and accolades that those in uniform were rightly awarded. Daisy received recommendation letters stating she’d done important war work, but she couldn’t explain to any employer what she’d done. This is perhaps the crux of the book. Her daughter shares how there was no support for British non-military after the war, and how it took over 50 years for these vital workers received acknowledgement. Even now, only those still living received that when it came in 2009. That excluded Daisy, who’d died a couple of years previously.

It also excluded my grandfather, who died in 1975 aged 51. And this is where Codebreaker Girls hit me personally, and I began to understand the man a little more. I’ve heard that he was a drinker, that he could be abusive, and that he died of a heart attack. Other members of his family state that he was a kind man, who took great care of his younger siblings. They looked to him as a hero. What was the truth? I know the answer was probably a bit of both. But this book asked questions that I hadn’t thought about before. If Daisy suffered through not being able to share, how much more so my grandfather? He couldn’t have explained how he, a young man, never wore a uniform and never fought alongside his peers. Did he feel the pressure, and the guilt of not being on the front lines, of surviving when other men didn’t? How did others treat him? Did he lose respect once it was known that he was a civilian? Add in a rough home life, both before and after the war, and I’m beginning to understand him. It doesn’t excuse some of his behavior as described to me, but it does explain some of it.

I didn’t go looking for my grandfather in this book, but Jan Slimming’s book was an eye-opening experience. I think it’s vital reading for not only the children or grandchildren who did work of importance during the war, but for everyone. Our culture places a high sense of importance on our veterans, and rightly so in most cases, but we can’t ignore the civilians who worked behind the scenes. When we offer discounts at restaurants and other places for those who served in uniform, are we doing a disservice to those who worked just as hard to ensure that those in the military had all they needed to fight? My other grandfather was exempt from fighting as well: not only was he diabetic, but he was in a protected occupation and made lenses (which are useful for gun sights). Should he also be ignored? Without the likes of Daisy and my grandfathers, would the outcome of World War Two have been the same?

Disclaimer: Although I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions above are my own.

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Codebreaker Girls: A Secret Life at Bletchley Park by Jan Slimming is a non-fiction account of the life of Daisy Lawrence, who worked at Bletchley Park during World War II. Ms. Slimming is Jan’s daughter who researched her mother’s work, experiences, and how they affected the rest of her life.

During World War II Bletchley Park was the center of England’s codebreaking efforts which historians agree help shorten the war, as well as save lives. In this book, the author discusses the important roles women played in this effort, along with her mother.

Codebreaker Girls: A Secret Life at Bletchley Park by Jan Slimming tries to be a bit of everything, a biography of Daisy Slimming, a short history of Bletchley Park and the efforts within, as well as the war efforts as seen from the rear, among others. The narrative moves between a moving biography of Daisy, to give an overall, but not comprehensive, view of the world around it.

I think Ms. Slimming tried to take on a bit too much in too short a space. The story of her mother was both fascinating and tragic. I’m sure this book will be treasured forever in the Slimming family. Daisy took her oath to stay quite very seriously and the British military provided on relief on that front, in fact they made it worst by threatening the women with jail or a firing squad if they even breath a word of it; instead of allowing the women to vent to qualified professionals who could also be sworn to secrecy (not to mention they could just listen and probably won’t understand what they’re hearing).
But times were different, and we’re better now.

Much of the material in this book was taken from the Slimming family archives, pictures, documents, and most important, the fascinating story which would have been lost forever. The book details the difficult and long wait Daisy had to endure while her future husband was missing in action (a POW they hoped), what the ladies ate, how they slept, and the mental issues they had during, and after the war.

There is a lot of details in this book, many people, and tons of fascinating anecdotes which makes it a worthwhile addition to any World War II, history, or code breaking library. Ms. Slimming is a very good writer who obviously did a lot of research to write a fascinating book which, I’m sure, would make her mother proud.

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Wow! I cannot imagine finding out things about a family member 50 years after they happened. For Daisy to have been so extremely brave during the war and then being able to shut that part of her life away. It was truly amazing to read about this Code breaker!!

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by NetGalley.

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I would've liked this better if it had read less like a history lesson. I liked how Daisy's story started at the beginning, with her childhood between the two World Wars. I was intrigued by the impact the secret-keeping had for so long after the war ended, and this book will probably inspire me to find out more about Bletchley and its people. Unfortunately, the book went off on a lot of tangents about the start of the Second World War, distant family members who didn't really play any part in any of it, famous people at Bletchley whom Daisy may or may not have met, while at the same time not really giving much attention to the war experience of Daisy's fiancé and its impact. This seems like a bit of a missed opportunity.

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This is a well-written memoir about the intricacies of the author's mother's life during WWII and the impact on her mental health from the strain of keeping secrets for a lifetime. The narrative explores the pain her mother experienced forevermore despite her attempts to cope with the secret memories of her work in the aftermath of the war and life at Bletchley Park. Unfortunately, for all who worked under intense stress in mostly poor conditions to help the Allies win the war, the threat of prison, or worse, loomed over them for the rest of their lives as a direct consequence of uttering any information about their work, discussion between coworkers was even forbidden because the civilian workers had all signed agreements of absolute secrecy as a requirement of the Official Secrets Act in Great Britain. The work at Bletchley Park, undertaken mostly by young civilian women, was so very segregated by specialized activities that roommates were not even aware of the specific duties performed by each other. The legacy of the codebreaker girls at Bletchley Park should be studied and recognized by all future generations for its historic impact on the outcome of the Second World War.
Two suggestions for the publisher:
First, consider moving the Abbreviation Table to the front of the book so readers will be aware of its availability and for ease of access because it is a great resource due to the high number of acronyms used throughout the text.
Second, consider hyperlinks to the End Notes in digital editions of the book to allow the reader easy accessibility for each referenced End Note.
Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book to read and review. The opinions expressed here are my own honest opinions written voluntarily.

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I really wanted to read this book. I love reading about the people of Bletchley Park so this appealed to me. Unfortunately it wasn't what the cover and summary suggested.

The parts following Daisy and her story were interesting and it would've been better if that had been the format of the book throughout. I was especially saddened and intrigued by the mental impact of secret keeping post war.

I found it went off into long tangents about distant family members, how WW2 started, other famous people at Bletchley that Daisy didn't perhaps meet, and so on. Daisy's fiancee's story is only skimmed over and that could've been fascinating, how they both dealt with their very different war trauma.

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and author for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This is a dense, info packed examination of the life of a Bletchley Park operator, and the context of the war efforts depending on her work.

There is a lot of information provided in this book, which sometimes can feel overwhelming. The work that was done at Bletchley Park was highly technical and skilled that was all described very intricately in the text. There are lots of references provided, and a lot of people to keep track of. All of which combines to make a very dense read.

I was expecting more of the other young women who worked in Bletchley Park, which there wasn’t a lot of. What wasn’t about Daisy was about the enormous historical context of a global war or the technical details of the machines and work.

The last quarter was perhaps the best part for me. I had not realized that the author is actually the daughter of the focus of this work. The last quarter provided a strong emotional context for how the stress of such a job, a vow of secrecy of such important work, and the lack of proper resources after the war ended affected Daisy in her years after WWII.

As a personal preference, I feel that the whole book would have been stronger if it was the story of Slimming’s journey from the beginning researching and discovering all of this information about her mother’s work, providing an emotional line throughout.

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Informative, Informative, Interesting! I was blown away by the amount of people and the fact that so many were able to keep it “MUM”! What an amazing and awe inspiring experience except the emotional stress must have been excruciating at times.
Daisy, a young woman was recruited for a program and she ended up at Bletchley Park for three years. This was to be her home away from home without the comforts and the family dynamics. The mind is a funny thing and it may seem in one piece now, but after years of solitude in little to no stimulation other than a few others it could affect you later in life.

Daisy is engaged and her fiancé is captured by the Japanese and she is helping to break those very codes. Can you just envision that she can’t tell anyone if he is alive even if she did know! That strain in itself would have been a difficult situation for her to come to grips with knowing that she can’t say one word.
Two people in the same house suffering from PTSD, but one cannot talk about what she did for the war effort and the other doesn’t want to talk about the torture he had to endure. It is truly no wonder Daisy was closed off from her husband and children.

The author has went into such technical details and war details that it detracts from the core of the book which is the Codebreaker Girls. I was expecting a book more about the women and their lives , but instead I got history and technology lessons. I definitely thought it was interesting, but it was over my head at times that I skipped paragraphs to get into the lives of Daisy and the others.

I would recommend this book if anyone was looking for a book on codebreaking during the war and who was responsible for inventing what techniques. However, to say this was about Codebreaking girls, I would say 25% of the book was centered on their lives.

I received a free advanced copy from NetGalley and these are my willingly given thoughts and opinions.

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“We rubbed shoulders with brilliance, and we did our bit to win the war, but who would believe you?”

Slimming tells the story of her mother, Daisy Lawrence, who worked at Bletchley Park as part of its codebreaking operations during WWII. Unlike most books I’ve read on this subject, this one focuses on the consequences of the Official Secrets Act. Once the war ended, Lawrence was unable to tell anyone how much of a contribution she had made. While everyone thought she had worked as a clerk, she had in fact done much more important work.

The mental health effects of keeping such a large secret are hardly examined in the literature, but Slimming pays a lot of attention to this aspect of her mother’s life. I really appreciated this fresh perspective. Would recommend for anyone else who loves books about female espionage.

Thank you to netgalley and Pen & Sword for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This book very interesting showing the workings of the Betchley code breakers and how they kept their silence about the work they had done during war time.

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I was interested to receive an arc of this book as I have always been fascinated by the role of women in the second world war and the secret duties many performed and once met a member of the SOE. This is a story of a young woman, Daisy, her fiancee imprisoned by the Japanese sent to Bletchley Park to work alongside the codebreakers. It was a bit of a dusty read and I wanted to learn more about Daisy's emotional struggle to keep her wartime experiences secret following demobilisation. Thanks to the publisher and netgalley for the arc.

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Codebreaker Girls is a historical true story of a young lady’s work at a secret facility in England. An interesting and informative read, the book follows the life of Daisy Lawrence pre-WWII and beyond.
I was intrigued reading of how her fiancee, Stan, goes off to war, yet she proudly offers her service to help at home. Daisy had to leave her family home, unable to let them know where or what she was doing. Her life during the war remained a secret for the rest of her life, and sadly hiding it made her suffer.
The book is about more than just this strong woman’s life, but a walk through the historical WWII era life. Packed with history and emotion, this book was hard to put down, especially knowing that it was true.
(I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review. Thank you Pen and Sword!!)

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Thank you to the publisher for an advance copy of this book!

It is hard to believe that this book isn’t fictional! It reads as good as any novel yet is mesmerizing due to the fact that it tells the story of the real Codebreakers girls! Very personal and well researched, definite read for any history buff. Glad to see writers shining the light on females who broke down barriers in difficult times and helped the nation strive! Loved the picture of the girls holding a beer!

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