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The Codebreakers

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Member Reviews

Stories about the code breakers of World War II have become highly popular in historical fiction in the last few years, but Alli Sinclair's book The Codebreakers introduces a fresh angle - and that is the work that went on in Australia at Brisbane's top secret Central Bureau headquarters, decoding material in the Pacific Arena of the war and working closely with England's better known Bletchley Park facility.
The thing that comes through really strongly in Alli's story is the personal costs of secrecy, as their work forces the code breaking women to lie to those closest to them, as well help them form a tightly bonded unit where betrayal hits especially hard.
The personal costs of keeping Government secrets, with ramifications long after into their post war lives, comes through strongly in this nuggety story of strong women and lives dislocated by war. Well conceived and researched, Alli Sinclair's story throws fresh light on the contributions women made and the private costs of their tenacity and purpose. I was provided with a Netgalley copy of this book and have reviewed it freely. Alli talks about this book and her wider career on The Joys of Binge Reading podcast. https://thejoysofbingereading.com/alli-sinclair-aussie-codebreakers-of-wwii/
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Historical fiction fans will love The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair. During World War II, women like Ellie joined the Central Bureau and began working with English codebreakers to change the course of the war. But to do so, they had to sign a lifetime secrecy contract. This book follows Ellie through this ground-breaking role and the after-effects of living a double life.

Ellie is a fantastic protagonist with incredible tenacity. She was also so strong and loyal - two qualities I always appreciate in a historical fiction main character. I also really liked Sinclair's writing style. She has a way with words and created such a great cast of characters. Friendship was a strong theme in The Codebreakers, as is resilience. Don't skip reading Sinclair's author's note, either, as it's as eye-opening as the entire novel.

It's refreshing to read a WWII historical fiction novel both set in Australia and about such a secretive organisation. I encourage everyone to read The Codebreakers, 

Thank you to Harlequin Australia and NetGalley for the ARC - all opinions are my own.
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Absolutely gripping read! Alli Sinclair delivers a book full of adventure,  but with realistic characters.
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Alli Sinclair's latest release, The Codebreakers, explores the top secret and pivotal role Australian female intelligence specialists played during WW2.
Country girl Ellie O'Sullivan works in Brisbane as a ground engineer for Qantas Empire Airlines, as the commercial airline carries out valuable work in supporting Australia's war effort in the Pacific. In the opening chapter of The Codebreakers, she's approached to undertake an important new job, one she's forbidden to reveal the nature of to even her nearest and dearest, even long after the war has ended. Ellie is recruited at the rank of sergeant into the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS), to work as a TypeX operator in the Cypher Office of the shadowy Central Bureau. There, she joins a group of other intelligent, hard-working young women whose work is to decrypt and monitor intercepted enemy messages, thereby assisting the Allied forces to make informed decisions regarding troop movements and other critical aspects of the unfolding war.
Ellie's required to move into barracks with her colleagues, but keeps in close touch with Mrs. Hanley, with whom she'd previously boarded and her good friend Kat. While there's plenty of conviviality in their household, they know all too well the cost of war. Both of Mrs. Hanley's sons have been killed in action, as has Ellie's older brother Robert, and Kat fears for the safety of her fiancé, who's in active service in the Pacific. Ellie also enjoys a close friendship with Louis, Robert's best friend, who works as a pilot for QEA. Both Ellie and Louis find romance, Ellie with dashing RAAF officer Harry Kinsman and Louis with redheaded Maude. But will the pressures of their wartime obligations, in particular Ellie's obligation to keep secrets, allow them to enjoy happy endings?
I was a great fan of the British ITV series The Bletchley Circle, which focusses on a group of women who work together at Britain's Government Code and Cypher School, colloquially known as "Bletchley Park", after the country estate where the unit was based. The opportunity to read about the experiences of the Bletchley women's Australian counterparts was therefore a fascinating prospect. The level of research Alli Sinclair has undertaken to prepare for writing The Codebreakers is impressive, and I found her extended author's note at the conclusion of the book, in which she details her discoveries, fascinating.
The Codebreakers is a stimulating read, with a well-balanced mix of intrigue, action and romance against an Australian wartime setting. I'd recommend the book to all lovers of historical fiction, especially those who enjoy stories featuring strong, feisty and multi-dimensional female characters taking on challenging situations.
My thanks to the author, Alli Sinclair, publisher Harlequin Australia, HQ & MIRA and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.
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Set in the year 1943 Australia, I found The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair absolutely fascinating. It’s a story inspired by the work Australian women carried out during WWII, depicting their bravery, dedication and the sacrifices they made as our country was threatened. It was disappointing to see that these woman were never acknowledged for their crucial work during wartime and I’m pleased to see they are now continuing to be honoured many decades later. 

Ellie O’Sullivan a former Qantas Empire Airways engineer found herself decoding secret messages within the Australian Central Intelligence Bureau from a suburban garage in Brisbane! The women that were recruited and worked there named themselves 'The Garage Girls’. The important work they engaged in took at least two years off the war and therefore saving numerous lives. 

It was a difficult time for a woman working where they were subject to harassment and sexism by some of the men. The women had to sign an official secrets act agreement and almost led a double life trying to keep their work top-secret and to never talk about it to anyone even their families or they would be charged for treason and put in jail. This had an immense strain on relationships.

The dramas, romantic interests and camaraderie between the characters made for an absorbing read.

An exceptionally researched and compelling story about the Australian women who became codebreakers and their friendships, loves and bravery.
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A compelling story about tenacity and friendship,based on the true story of the 'Garage Girls'.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 Central Bureau - an intelligence organisation working with England's Bletchley Park codebreakers. But joining 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?The mansion at 21 Henry Street,Ascot, known as Nyrambla, was the headquarters to Allied code breakers during WWII—all members of the top secret organisation Central Bureau,aka Australia's Bletchley Park.There was a garage filled with 12 Typex machines—British cipher machines adapted from the German Enigma—operated by the Number 11 Australian Cypher Section.Central Bureau,was a joint Australia-US signals intelligence organisation formed in April 1942 to support General MacArthur's SWPA.Signals intelligence personnel in the south-west Pacific had unique problems that their European counterparts didn't—they had to learn the complexities of the Japanese language and their Morse code system.Staff were deployed to field sites, from northern Australia,through the south-west Pacific and the Philippines.Their weapons were their incredible puzzle solving skills, imagination and the sheer determination to prevail despite technical issues.

Finished reading on April 17th 2021.
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Book blurb...
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 Central Bureau - an intelligence organisation working with England's Bletchley Park codebreakers. But joining 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?

My thoughts…

Once again, another fabulous story from Alli Sinclair. This one is a little different to her previous works (if I’m recalling correctly) in that there is a strong plot thread based on fact running through The Codebreakers. Alli has taken strong female characters who were tasked with an important wartime role and forced to be silent for years about their contribution.

The Codebreakers lets the reader in on a secret that must be held almost until the end.  

The characters in this story certainly have their ups and downs over the years, which made me eager to find out how their story comes together.  

What’s that? How does it end?  

To find out, you will have to break the code for yourself.

A very enjoyable read.
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Based on a true story about an inspirational group of women during World War 2, this was an amazing read. In 1943, Ellie is recruited to work as one of a select group of women who had the job of deciphering coded messages during the war. They are made to sign an agreement to never talk about their work or risk being arrested. Ellie rises to the challenger and is quickly perceived as a threat by some males who believe women belong in the kitchen. These women were finally acknowledged for their contribution to the war effort in 2009, some 60 years after they served. The story follows Ellie’s life during and after the war as she battles society’s perceptions of what a woman should do. An amazing piece of fiction based on many Australian facts including the Garage Girls and the first ever woman pilot for the Flying Doctor Service. I loved the history and the fictional story of Ellie and her quests for happiness. Highly recommend this read.
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What a wonderful and insightful story this is.  We hear so many stories of war and the things people did to help in the effort to regain peace and freedom but this was a story which really brought to life not just what these wonderful, strong and intelligent women did but also the secrets that have been kept (and probably still are) and the effect it has on so many.

The story centred around the main character, Ellie O'Sullivan but it also brought together so many other characters, some more prevalent than others but each with a part to play in this tale.  The tale followed the lives, loves, heartache and secrets which would have been felt by all those who were affected by this and so many other wars.

I loved the characters, the story flowed well bringing with it friendships and camaraderie that many of us would have never experienced.  It also had love, heartache, sadness and true grit and strength.

A great book, a great read and I do recommend this to anyone that loves a bit of history, a bit of love and a lot of emotion.
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There is a wealth of themes explored in Alli Sinclair’s latest release, The Codebreakers, a novel inspired by the women who served in secret within the Australian Central Intelligence Bureau during WWII. It’s always interesting to me, to read about the war on our own shores and when that history features the bravery and sacrifice of women and the work they dedicated themselves to, then I am all the more interested.

The Codebreakers specifically chronicles the work of the “Garage Girls”, a small team of women who were ensconced in a suburban Brisbane garage cracking codes for the war in the Pacific. It has been said that their work in intelligence took at least two years off the war, saving countless lives. The research that has gone into this novel, specifically the parts about the intelligence work and codebreaking, is entirely impressive. For me, this is where the strength of the novel lay. I was less enamoured of the characters and their melodrama, to be honest, and I’m not a big fan on war time romance either, and this novel has quite a bit of romance going on, some of which tended to dilute the more important historical aspects of the story.

I admired how Alli spotlighted the many ways in which women, who were frankly doing extremely important work across all fields, were subjected to sexism and harassment on a daily basis. On the other hand, I also liked the way she demonstrated the appreciation many men had for the skills and service women were undertaking, thanking them for their service and trying to alleviate the actions of their counterparts who were less gracious and quite often, overtly sexist. The burden of keeping the secrets of war is an area of interest, so I enjoyed the examination of this, particularly at the end of the war, when the women were moving on and going back to lives that were entirely removed from the way they had been living for several years. Ellie’s inability to adapt to civilian life seemed to me to be quite realistic, likewise, the way in which the garage girls drifted away from each other was understandable; there would come a point in every person’s life where concealment would wear you down and you would seek an end, no matter the pain associated with it.

All in all, The Codebreakers is an interesting read that pays homage to an important part of Australia’s wartime history. It has renewed my sense of admiration for the generation of women who kept Australia ticking over and safe throughout WWII and I am pleased that for many of them, their efforts are continuing to be honoured.
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I don't read a lot of historical fiction, and when I do, it's usually set during World War II. The Codebreakers was intriguing to me because it's set in Australia during WWII and follows a woman working as a codebreaker.

Ellie O'Sullivan is working as an engineer for Qantas in 1943 when she is approached with an offer from Central Bureau to serve her country by working alongside England's Bletchley Park codebreakers to aide the war effort. By agreeing, Ellie ties herself to a lifetime of secrecy, unable to speak about her work to her family and friends. In her new life she makes new friends, has to negotiate pre-exisiting relationships and a romantic relationship that demands some level of truth.

I'll admit it that it took me a while to warm up to the story - any kind of historical fiction is a leap of faith for me because it's not one of my favourite genres to read. But every now and then there's a book that has a premise that catches my attention and I was really interested in reading a book that incorporated the efforts of women in Australia during wartime.

Ellie begins the book as a very practical and pragmatic woman doing her best during a difficult time in the world. When she's offered a job working for Central Bureau decoding ciphers it's something she's not sure she wants - it means hiding her work from the people she calls family. It has a long-term impact of the people she's closest, too, which places a huge burden on her that she has to learn to adapt to. It forces her to develop relationships with the women she works with, which was fascinating, because they're such a different group of people, but it also brings them closer during the time they're working together.

Alongside these female friendships, Ellie's trying to navigate a romantic relationship that's complicated by her inability to talk about what she does on a daily basis. It's hard and messy and felt very real while reading.

There's also a bit of mystery for Ellie to solve - one of the women she works with could be a traitor, and it's up to Ellie to figure out who it is and why it might have happened before the blame is place firmly on her.

It was great to read an Australian story set during this time period and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for future releases from Alli Sinclair.
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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.
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I finished this book just before midnight, I couldn’t make myself put it down, to be continued another day just wasn’t going to happen, this book just had to be finished. It was brilliant, it left me with tears in my eyes, both happy tears and sad tears. What a remarkable story Alli Sinclair has weaved together in The Codebreakers. The amount of research that has gone into this novel is monumental and as with another wonderful Australian historical fiction novel, The Land Girls by Victoria Purman, this is a story about women and their courage and adaptability during the most trying times. A story that needed to be told, of secrets that have been kept for far too many years. Of the women who helped win the war and save countless lives.

The characters in this novel were so fully realised that it was easy to believe they were real people, to forget that it was fiction, that the author was telling the real story of these men and women is easy to believe.

Ellie, already working for the war effort as an engineer at Qantas, is recruited by Central Bureau to help crack codes, this is a highly secret division, especially for the women who work there and I could feel the internal war that Ellie waged trying to keep her job from her friends and family, it is not a situation I ever hope to find myself in.

I loved the friendships and relationships that Ellie developed, I especially loved her childhood friend Louis, what a fabulous friend to have. I loved her landlady Mrs Handley, if there was ever a mother substitute, she is the person you would want, and her friend Florry. The friendships she made with the girls in the Central Bureau were strong ones, that were sadly severed after the war. That would have been hard, losing the only people who knew what you’d been through.

So many people lost friends, lovers, husbands, sons during this time, that the urge to collapse in dispair must’ve been strong, yet everyone soldiered on, doing what had to be done and getting by the best they could.

There is a scene maybe two thirds of the way in where I had to stop and listen to one of my favourite songs.

Bridal Train by The Waifs

It fit so perfectly with the story.

This was a fantastic read, which I highly recommend, full of many emotions and uncovering a long hidden history of the women who helped in the war.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.
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Inspired by the women who secretly served the Australian Central Intelligence Bureau during World War II, The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair is a highly engaging historical fiction novel about war, friendship, secrets, love and loss.

When Elanora (Ellie) O’Sullivan is approached to take up a clandestine role with the Australian Women’s Army Service, she is reluctant to give up her position as a member of the ground crew for Qantas Empire Airways, whose planes transport supplies to New Guinea as WWII continues to rage across Europe and the Pacific. Accepting the post will mean she will have to leave the home of Mrs. Hanley, where she shares a room with fellow crew member Kat Arnold, and will have to keep her activities in her new job a secret from everyone. Yet she feels compelled to accept, and finds herself living and working with a group of women whose role is to decode intercepted enemy communications. Ellie enjoys the work and is proud to be making such an important contribution to the war effort, but the intense pressure and the need for secrecy takes its toll on her, and her colleagues.

Sinclair develops a fascinating story in The Codebreakers, set in Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane, beginning in 1943. Having read the wonderful biography of Mrs Mac, an extraordinary woman who was in large part responsible for women being able to join the auxiliary armed forces in WWII (Radio Girl by David Duffy) last year, and then falling down a rabbit hole or two, I was aware that women played a role as signal operators and codebreakers in Australia during the war, and I’m delighted that Sinclair honours their significant but largely un-acknowledged contribution.

Merging historical fact with fiction, Sinclair explores the challenges the Australian people faced on the home front while at war, fearing an invasion or bombing from enemy forces. Everyone was expected to contribute to the war effort and as men were sent away to fight, many women stepped up and into non-traditional roles. Sinclair’s main protagonist Ellie represents one of thousands of women who played a vital role during the period, often with little recognition, then and even now.

If I’m honest I did not particularly care much for Ellie, I often found her character grating, always anxious about something - be it her job, or her personal relationships - even if for good reason, her thoughts throughout the book were often repetitive. I understood, as Sinclair’s Author Note confirms, that to keep such an extraordinary secret, particularly from loved ones despite the high stakes, was very difficult, but it was largely the well-crafted, sweeping plot that carried this story for me.

There is intrigue when one of Ellie’s colleagues is suspected to be a traitor, and romance when Ellie meets a handsome airman who courts her with gentlemanly ardour.  Friendships are formed and broken. There is grief when young men fail to return to their sweethearts, joy when the war finally ends. Of course the main strength of the novel is what it reveals of our own history - the ‘Garage Girls’ and the remarkable women like them, a glimpse of our clandestine war activities, the revelation of a secret base in the outback, and later, the changes war wrought on society which allowed Ellie and other women to imagine a different future for themselves, other than what had always been expected of them. 

An absorbing, well researched novel told with heart, warmth, and respect for the legacy of all who defended our country, The Codebreakers is a wonderful story I’d recommend.
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I have read all Alli's books and I think she just keeps getting better. The Codebreakers is a fabulous fictional tale based on extensive research. It provides a realistic portrayal of being female whilst living and serving in Australia during the Second World War. Reading about the Australian equivalent of Bletchley Park and the codebreaking that occurred at the Central Bureau was indeed a revelation to me. 

‘We can’t control things bigger than us.  What we can control, however, is our appreciation for what we have because it can change in the blink of an eye.’

Alli has done a fantastic job of putting a human face to a very factual tale. Her leading character Ellie - and indeed many of the secondary characters - come to life in this story of what life may have been like for young women who left their homes and took on roles many had never heard of before. Add to that the tragic realities of war - fear of Japanese invasion, loss of loved ones, rationing etc - and you really begin to get a feel for the stress and angst that must have filled the lives of many during this period. Throughout all of this Alli highlights the strength of female friendships  - loyalty, courage, inspiration - all in the line of duty for these young Australian women. 

The new and exciting component that makes this tale step up from other wartime stories is its continuation after armistice. How do you leave it all behind once the last shot is fired or message decoded? How hard it must have been to have the expectation of motherhood and being tied to the kitchen thrust back at you after all you had experienced. To have lost that female solidarity and being unable to share details with anyone, must surely have compounded their feelings of loss. I think Alli truly captured this desolate sense of isolation wonderfully well. For Alli to then continue the journey through highlighting the rights of women through Ellie’s flying journey and the RFDS truly added to what was already a well rounded tale. 

‘An array of emotions battled within---nostalgia for the friends she missed, the honour of being chosen to do such important and difficult work, and pride knowing she’d made a difference to many lives. It was all in the past, though. How long would she cling to it before it stopped her reaching for the future?’

With themes ranging from danger and stress, to fulfillment and friendship, Alli invites her readers to experience a well researched and fascinating part of Australia’s wartime history that very few knew about until recently (her Author Notes at the conclusion are most enlightening). I would love for Alli to consider continuing Ellie’s tale as she truly epitomised the life of many females of this era well beyond the war years. 

‘So, if you have the chance to do something you want, take it and don’t be apologetic. Women spend too much time bowing to society’s expectations instead of allowing ourselves to be who we truly are.’ 




This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.
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What an awesome story, compelling and poignant and it is beautiful, a real page turner this one takes us on a journey through World War 11 and we get to meet the women, who are known as codebreakers working for the very secret Central Bureau in Brisbane, who are with the intelligence organization Bletchley Park in England, but once working there they must sing a secrecy contract and never, never talk about what they did during the war and this can be very hard on them.

It is 1943 war is raging in the Pacific and Ellie O’Sullivan is working as a an engineer on the Qantas planes that they are using to help with the war effort, she is soon roped into helping break codes coming in from the enemy, Ellie is good at what she does, very good, but keeping secrets is very hard for this country girl living in Brisbane now, Ellie is settling in and the girls are becoming close friends and soon have a name for themselves and as they work in a small garage which is part of Nyrambla House they are known as The Garage Girls.

These strong woman are doing everything they can to protect not only Australia, but the Allies as well and when one of the girls appears to have broken the rules about secrets they are all put under the microscope especially Ellie the bond they share grows, the secret keeping is really hard on Ellie when she cannot discuss anything she does with her best friends and her boyfriend, honesty means so much. Thoughts about what will happen when the war is over, what will they do, will these secrets cause problems with relationships and families in the future, the pressure grows.

This story was so very good, I could feel the emotions pouring off the pages, the pressure Ellie was under not just her work but her personal life as well. I shed quite a few tears throughout this book, there were smiles as well and lots of cheering, I loved Ellie she is so caring and loving it was great getting to know her.

Alli Sinclair has written an amazing well researched story, with so many fabulous characters, the Garage Girls, Mrs. Hanley, Louis and Harry all come together in a story that I feel is a must read, I do highly recommend this one, I loved it so much. Thank you Allis Sinclair for a story that will stay with me for a long time to come and this is definitely one for the keeper shelf. The ending was gorgeous there are still tears as I write this.

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my copy to read and review.
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The Codebreakers was such an enjoyable read. I love historical fiction but most of what I read is set in Europe/America so reading one set in Australia has spurred me on to LOTS of googling and further reading. Being based on real events I found it absolutely fascinating- what a hard thing to keep secret for all those years - having such a pivotal role and never being able to tell anyone. I loved that there was a little history of Qantas/RFDA. I love that women were able to show their capabilities when the men were away on the frontline and how challenging working alongside men who didn’t want them there would’ve been. Ellie was a great character and I loved her positivity though she did border on the wrong side of naivety a few times. She had such a strength about her and I loved reading as she supported her friends, fell in love and dealt with grief. Highly recommend especially for those looking for an interesting WW2 story that’s not traumatic.
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I thought I’d enjoy The Codebreakers but I didn’t expect to read the entire book in a single evening.

The Codebreakers is based on the true story of the women who worked at Australia’s version of Bletchley Park. I know a little about the UK history (mostly thanks to Bletchley Girls) but nothing about what happened in Australia, so I found the details fascinating - to think that such important work happened right under people’s noses in suburban Brisbane! 

Ellie was a great character to follow; occasionally naive, but so incredibly kind-hearted and resilient. I always love reading about competent women whose compassion is seen as strength. I also loved that, while there is a romance, the focus of this book is on female camaraderie and friendship, and that it acknowledges the hard work required to build and maintain meaningful friendships. Finally, as an (ex)Queenslander, this book really did feel like a love letter to rural Queensland, an unexpected highlight of this book - the depictions of the weather and the wide open spaces reminded me of home.


I did have a few minor quibbles - some of the plot points are a bit rushed, particularly early on - but I really enjoyed this book and will be checking out more of what Sinclair has to offer.
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What a fascinating story! The Codebreakers, Alli Sinclair’s latest historical novel, reveals parts of Australia’s WWII history that I knew nothing about. I’ve visited Bletchley Park in the UK and have a good understanding of the role women there played to decode messages from Germany’s Enigma Machine. I had no idea women in Australia played a similar and vital role in achieving Allied victory. 
This story is very well researched with excellent historical detail woven into the fictional life of Ellie O’Sullivan. I thought the pacing was a little slow in places but the story itself makes for compelling reading. I liked the way issues such as trust, keeping secrets, guilt and betrayal were addressed. I also liked the way women’s role in Australia’s wartime and post war society was included, particularly in terms of Ellie’s struggle for recognition for her skills as a Morse code operator and a pilot. 
The author’s notes at the end of this story are interesting both in terms of the history they outline and in terms of highlighting just how much research authors put into their books, often before the first words are written. This has been another excellent story from a talented author.
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464 pages and I read it in a single sitting. Well, practically a single sitting. I had to break to prep for dinner and be "present" at family dinner but other than that, I was basically not "present". I met Alli for coffee when her last book, The Cinema at Starlight Creek (you should read this one too!), she was doing lots of researching for this book and I was so excited to hear about female Australian codebreakers! I've read a bit on Bletchley Park & some women codebreakers (also watched & loved that Netflix series, The Bletchley Circle) so this was a most anticipated release for me and I LOVED it!

'So we cling to hope and stars?'

'With all our might.'

There were just many things I loved about this novel. From a most inspiring protagonist to a swoony romance to the realisation of just how many women in the past have fought (and most, in silence) for us to be where we are today (and we are not done!).

The men suffer in silence, never ones to talk about the tragedies they've suffered. We women try to hold everyone up with our strength, until our knees shake and our arms threaten to drop the heavy load. But we do it. We carry everyone who needs support. We help the world right itself and nurture those who need it most. Women are incredible creatures; don't you ever forget it. So, if you have the chance to do something you want, take it and don't be apologetic. Women spend too much time bowing to society's expectations instead of allowing ourselves to be who we truly are.

Set in 1940s Queensland, in the height of World War II and its immediate aftermath, we follow Elanora O'Sullivan as she served to end a war she did not believe in, found & lost friends and love, struggled to find her place in the world as a woman who knows she's as good as the men around her.

The Codebreakers is a fictional tale inspired by just such intelligent, strong, and courageous women and such an empowering story! It's tick so many boxes and filled up my heart meter to the max. I cannot wait to see what Alli's next book will be.

Thanks to Harlequin Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review
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