Cover Image: The Girl from Bletchley Park

The Girl from Bletchley Park

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Member Reviews

Any story telling of the achievements of Bletchley Park are fascinating and this didn't disappoint.  Told from two perspectives from the same family, eighty years apart:

Julia lives in the present day and owns a successful IT business, married with two young boys.  She spends all her time working in the home office and struggles with getting the work/life balance right.   Arguments with her husband, Mark are the norm these days and she can feel him drifting further away from her but doesn't know how to put it right.    Known as the family historian, when her brother decides to sell their grandmothers cottage, he finds a box with old photos and box camera which he passes to Julia for safe keeping.    

The photos show her grandmother, Pamela as a young girl with the man that she was to later marry and lifelong friend Clarissa.   When Julia gets the film from the box camera developed, it shows other people and places that she didn't recognise.   This set her on the path of finding out what her grandmother did during the war.

 Pamela's story is told by way of Clarissa's memoirs.  Pamela, a young girl living during the war but with her heart set on going to university to study maths.   She is surprised and flattered when her name is put forward for a secret role to help with the war effort.   After a successful secret interview, she is soon enrolled as a Wren and living in a country mansion working at Bletchley Park.   She makes friends with Clarissa, Norah, Frank and Edwin and love soon blossoms between her and Frank.      

All is not as it first seems, either in the past or present and soon Julia learns the truth of both eras.   Her life changes drastically as a result and she finally finds that happy balance in life.

A really good interesting read
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I am always fascinated about stories to do with Bletchley Park, whether fact or fiction, so this choice of book was a must for me.

1942 – Pamela has the chance to go to university and study maths. But she has the opportunity to do something for the war effort and it seems rather unrealistically her skills are in need. Deferring university she finds herself, in the uniform of a Wren and at Bletchley Park. Here she meets lifelong friends, Clarissa, Norah, Edwin and Frank. But whilst she is swept away in the work of the Park and the thought of potential love there is something not quite right about one of these people. Where exactly do their loyalties lie in a time of war?

Julia is Pamela’s granddaughter. Julia’s life seems idyllic, own software company, big house, two growing sons and a happy marriage. However it seems that all is not what it seems in the present day. Julia’s time is completely filled, but when with the help of her brother she find some photos of her grandmother in the place that was Bletchley Park, Julia becomes fascinated by a part of her grandmothers life she knew nothing about.

Whilst the secrets of Pamela’s life comes out through photos and reminiscences of a friend, it is the solace with which Julia finds her self seeking whilst her own life has imploded with it’s own worst kept secrets. As life changes beyond recognition for Julia, she finds herself in the position of thinking about secrets both past and potentially future.

This dual timeline novel was interesting, I liked the strength of both of the main female characters, but found the men to very weak. Perhaps that was the point? But I would have like a bit more of a mix. I could positively have shaken Julia’s husband. This is a great insight into the work of those at Bletchley Park and a good piece of historical fiction.
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What a difficult book to review! Having read other novels set in, or featuring, Bletchley Park I was looking forward to reading this novel. However, first impressions were not positive; the plot is based around the stories of two members of the same family, two generations and almost eighty years apart. So far, so good, but the narrative was somewhat spoiled by what seemed an unnecessarily excessive use of clichés. No spoilers here, so you’ll have to read the book to see if you agree. On the basis of what you’ve read so far I guess you’re probably expecting just two or three stars - and yet, and yet….
Strangely, the somewhat simple and old-fashioned elements of both the story and the writing combine in some strange way to make this an easy and enjoyable read. I doubt if many readers will be surprised at the turn of events revealed in the evolving plot, but there is something in the book that passes a pleasant few hours.
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This was a light, fairly undemanding book, but just what I needed after a rather heavy previous read.  It was set during the second world war, one of my favourite periods, although was not quite as gripping or interesting as Kate Quinn's 'Rose Code'  or Jules Wake's 'The Secrets of Latimer House', both from this year and in a similar vein.  The narrative alternated between Julia, an IT businesswoman in the present day who has troubles of a personal, family and work nature, with her grandmother, Pam, who helps the war effort as a coder in Bletchley Park.  Both time periods worked in their own right, but allowed some suspense because of the change of period at key moments.  However neither story was as exciting or compelling as I had expected, and the book was rather lacklustre in the light of recent similar novels of the period.  A light and easy quick-read which kept me entertained, if not engrossed.
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Two interlinked stories set almost 80 years apart, although I much preferred the wartime one. There are parallels between the two, as each woman has to deal with people close to her that she feels she can no longer trust. Lots of interesting history, especially about the code breaking machines.
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My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for this wonderful story.

Julia finds a camera with old film in it that was her grandmother s, an employee of Bletchley Park.  This book alternates between the stories of the 2 women from the past and present.   I loved this.  Easy read,quick,good flow, and well written.   Highly recommend.
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After having read The Rose Code, I have become quite fascinated with the code breakers from Bletchley Park. 
The Girl from Bletchley Park is a dual timeline story about two intelligent women, one is current day and then about her grandmother. (Pamela and Julia). The dual timelines work well well for this novel. 

I enjoyed that both were dealing with a similar issue of having a partner that they found untrustworthy while living in very different times. I found this story to drag a great deal though and I lost my focus and attention on many occasions. Perhaps my expectations were set too high and I was hoping for more behind-the-scenes codebreaker details. There was a lot of focus on the love story aspect.

I've never read this author before and I think perhaps this title was just not a good fit for me.
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Historical fiction is definitely my favourite genre and this did not disappoint at all.
 Kathleen McGurl has created an exceptional tale.
It is set in dual times  of 1942 and the present day. This worked perfectly and wasn't at all confusing.  I couldn't put it down and devoured it in a very short time. Thanks to #NetGalley for the advance copy in return for an honest review
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Audio ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

My personal rating of the book: 2 stars

Rating based on quality of the writing etc: 3 stars

I was invited to read this book and the cover, title and to an extent the blurb, led me to believe this would be far more historical fiction than it was. In actual fact, this is commercial women's fiction with one of the two pov narratives in period costume. There is nothing wrong with commercial women's fiction but it's not something I would have ever chosen to read willingly. Instead of details about the codebreaking efforts at Bletchley Park and a more cerebral portrayal of WWII Britain with good historical detail, everything was left very vague or really dumbed down. This was echoed in the modern era where the MC is a brilliant computer code writer with a successful business...which is kept very vague and really dumbed down.

 

In the end, the very things that will make it appeal to fans of CWF - the underdeveloped MCs that can be used as masks to experience the story, the convenient (contrived) plotpoints, the low level conflict and tension and the utter certainty that everything will be fine - are what made me dislike the book. So once again, I am not the target audience. I found both Pam - a supposed maths genius destined for Oxford university - and Julia, successful business woman who is supposed to be a code wizard, unbelievably stupid. It's obvious what's going in with pretty much every other character in this book but especially the male leads. The two teen sons are ridiculously understanding and well behaved - to the point where I wondered if there was a bodysnatchers subplot.

 

Anyway, I can see that while not written for me, it handles the tropes of the genre and the desires of its target audience well. I wish it had been marketed with more accuracy but I imagine there is a huge audience out there who will love this. Which doesn't unfortunately include me.
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I requested this ARC on a bit of a whim and I am so glad it did. 

Firstly I love the two parralel stories, and Pam really feels like someone I’d like to have known - the history she would have known! It follows Pam who works at Bletchley as a code breaker and her granddaughter Julia who is running her own business and struggling with the life / work balance.

I haven’t read too many war time novels but the lives of those at Bletchley park is honestly fascinating.

I couldn’t put this down. Thank you to the author and NetGalley for this ARC
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The Girl from Bletchley Park is very.... tidy. That's the best way for me to explain it. 

The novel is a dual-timeline story following both Pamela Jackson starting in 1943 and Julia (I'm not sure we're ever told her surname) starting in 2019. Pam is Julia's grandmother on her mum's side, and despite being separated by a generation and wildly different worlds, their stories follow a very uncanny similarity. 

Pam is getting ready to graduate and is set to start at Oxford University, a much deserved spot for her mathematics intellect. She resolves to defer her admission to instead assist in the war effort for Britain and winds up at Bletchley Park working to decode German messages. Her primary work is with the Colossus machine, an often overlooked machine at BP compared to Alan Turing's Enigma; however, most of her story follows her relationship with Frank Miller and her friends Clarissa, Norah, and Edwin. She is stepping out with Frank throughout the majority of her first year at BP. 

Julia is an incredibly successful woman, who owns her own IT business with one of her best friends, Ian. Julia's husband (Marc) is jealous of her breadwinning ability and frequently makes his opinions known - quite frankly, Marc sucks. Julia is constantly struggling with whether she is doing the right thing, doing enough for her family, and rarely finds time for herself. 

Overall, I did really enjoy the book. There were a lot of different conflicts going on (Julia + Marc; Julia + Ian; Pam + Frank; Frank + Edwin; Geoff + Clarissa; Julia wanting to know about her grandmother; WWII; and more) and many different stories that needed to be closed out. Each and every one did get closed out, in a very tidy way. For example, how convenient that Bob (Julia's brother) had just been to Bletchley Park and recognized the dome in the photographs. Or that Julia did not pay attention to the Company's finances. Or that Pam left her gas mask on the bus and Frank tracked it down. So many points in the story were convenient in how they worked out that I felt like I was able to predict a lot of it. 

That said, even with being able to anticipate what was coming, I couldn't put it down and I had to keep reading. I liked the story and will probably seek out more of Kathleen McGurl in the future.
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The Girl from Bletchley Park by Kathleen McGurl

In WW2 Pam defers her place at Oxford to study maths and is recruited to become a codebreaker at Bletchley Park.  She falls in love with a man who isn't what he seems and finds herself in a very dangerous predicament.  In the present day Julia is struggling to cope with a business, 2 children and a distant husband.  When her brother gives her some photos of their grandmother she is intrigued by the story of her secret past.

This was a fabulous book!  Both women's stories were intriguing and kept me turning the pages.  I've read a lot of books about Bletchley Park and this one was fantastic.  Very highly recommended!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book.
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I've always been fascinated by the women who worked at Bletchley Park. They were intelligent, brave, and determined. This book does a wonderful job at depicting that while holding you captive with the fascinating story. I did like the historical part better than the present part, but it was a very enjoyable read.
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I really enjoyed this story told from the two perspectives of a woman and her grandmother. Both stories were interesting with the exploration of modern working motherhood and the fascinating tale of the work at Bletchley Park drying the War. I did find the writing a little stilted at times but it was an interesting read.
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The Girl From Bletchley Park is a riveting story about the strength and achievements of two women in the face of danger and heartbreak. Two timelines – 1942 and the present – run in parallel to tell a story of determination, dedication, sacrifice, and hardships.

Julia, an entrepreneur juggling a jealous husband and two children, discovers her grandmother’s (Pam) role at Bletchley Park through some old photographs and a memoir written by Pam’s friend. As she pieces together the fascinating story of Pam’s contribution to WWII, she also fixes her increasingly off-kilter marriage in the process.

The author has researched her story well. The technical details of code-breaking machines used during WWII are fascinating yet simple to understand. The idea that women aren’t good at mathematics or STEM subjects or cannot have a successful career is blown to smithereens.

The men attempt to use the women to further their own goals but are surprised to find that they cannot be as easily manipulated as they thought.

I loved all aspects of this book – the intimate look inside the workings of Bletchley Park, the tug-of-war between people, and the triumph of love and loyalty over greed and deceit.

(I received an ecopy from Rachel at Rachel’s Random’s Resources with a request for an honest review.)
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Set during WWII and present day.  Julia and Marc have 2 sons, they both have busy lives she with her own IT business and he is also in IT though doesn't earn as much as Julia, a bone of contention,  Julia is also extremely busy with her business and the 2 boys.  Marc appears to  be of the mindset that Julia does all the domestic chores plus child care. Julia's brother Bob has inherited their Grandmother's home.and turns up with some old photos of their Grandmother Pamela.  Julia does some investigating into Pamela's past through an old friend of Pamela's and is surprised to find how involved her Grandmother was with the Bletchley Park code breaking team.  There is a great story of the time during WWII with the Wrens involved at Bletchley, with romances and life in general.
The other part of the story with Julia and Marc is sad as their marriage and her business fall apart.  He had an affair and Julia's business partner gambled all the money away and so they had to put the business through insolvency proceedings. Julia and Marc split up "amicably", selling the house and she gets another job, working near to home to be able to spend more time with her boys.  
A charming entertaining read exploring the lessons to be learnt from not watching the financial side of your business, your job taking all your time away from family life, and how people coped during WWII.
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I like a dual narrative. For this novel Julia is running a business and juggling family life when she discovers her grandmother's old camera and photographs. Recognising the building it becomes clear that her grandmother Pam worked at Bletchley Park during the war. As this was obviously a secret she is dying to find out more. 

Switch to Pam's narrative and she defers her place at university studying maths in order to join the code breakers at Bletchley. So far so good. But for both characters life gets more complicated and possibly dangerous than they expected. 

I enjoyed both sides of this novel, Julia's relationships and stresses are well described. Pam's excitement about her work and the secrecy that surrounds it contrasts nicely. The ending dies feel a little rushed and also a bit clichéd perhaps but it's definitely an enjoyable read
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A business owner discovers her grandmother's secret work at Bletchley Park. This novel is split between the 2 women's worlds, with tension and drama at both levels. Very readable and a real page-turner.
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Julia has an IT company and runs it with business partner and best friend, Ian. She loves her job but sometimes deadlines mean that her work life balance get blurred. Her family, husband Marc and teenage children are getting a bit fed up about this.
One day her brother Bob brings her so old photos that he finds in the attic of her family home. In it there are photos of her grandparents and she finds out that her gran, Pamela, used to work at Bletchley Park.
Pamela's story runs alternately with Julia's.
Interesting but fairly predictable storyline. I felt it lacked depth
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The Girl from Bletchley Park is a detailed well thought out story that takes the reader on a journey of action and adventure from the first page...
I like how McGurl has created an engaging plot with great amount of research and interesting information about codebreakers...
The character development of The Girl from Bletchley Park is good. The characters are relatable and realistic. Julia juggles life at home and been self employed. Pamela is highly intelligent and ends up been apart of the secret effort to help the war. Marc's negative attitude brought up major red flags. 
I would recommend reading The Girl from Bletchley Park to lovers of Women's Fiction and Historical Fiction, as it is a compelling and emotional character driven story that has secrets,  friendship and betrayal!
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