Cover Image: The Girl from Bletchley Park

The Girl from Bletchley Park

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Member Reviews

There is a continuing fascination with the work carried out at Bletchley Park during World War 2, work which we now know proved of great significance to the war effort. The author takes us “behind the scenes” at Bletchley Park through the story of Pamela, a promising student of mathematics who is persuaded to defer her place at university and instead put her skills to work in the service of her country. During her time at Bletchley Park, Pamela makes friendships that will last a lifetime but also learns in the most dramatic way possible that not everyone is quite what they seem, the author deftly playing with the reader’s doubts and suspicions.

Interwoven with Pamela’s experiences is the present day story of Julia, Pamela’s granddaughter. As the book progresses the similarities between the situations the two women face become increasingly apparent. For example, a neat touch is that Julia runs her own IT business whilst Pamela worked on what could be considered an early version of a computer. In different ways, both Pamela and Julia experience betrayal by those they have come to trust but also find help from unexpected quarters. Along the way ties of friendship and affection are tested and both women have to summon up all their strength to protect those they care about.

I really liked the way Julia’s relationship with her two sons, Oscar and Ryan, was portrayed and how they progress from being stroppy teenagers to showing signs of becoming fine young men. Julia’s brother, Bob, and Drew, the husband of Julia’s business partner, act as counterpoints to other less than admirable examples of the male species. And, in the earlier timeline, Clarissa proves a steadfast friend to Pamela whose warnings, as it turns out, Pamela would have done well to heed.

The Girl from Bletchley Park will appeal to fans of dual timeline stories with an element of mystery, and those with an interest in the contribution, often largely unsung, of women to the war effort.
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An interesting read but I found myself wanting to read more about the actual job of code breaking.  A dual timeline book with two females invested in their jobs - Pamela, who excels in mathematics is faced with a dilemma to attend Oxford or help her country during WW2, and Julia, her granddaughter who has a job in IT faced with her own dilemma.  I found myself struggling at times with the naivety of both of these women.  They were characters I was reading about but neither ever became real to me. 
 The tone of the book to me was more of failed romances than strong females who persevered, although they both ultimately did just that.  Having never heard of Bletchley Park I am intrigued to learn more about the history involved. 
The highlight of the book for me were the pages sharing Clarissa’s memoirs, which told Pamela’s story in a very unique way.
Many thanks to Kathleen McGurl, HQ digital, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to read an arc of this just published book.  3 1/2 stars.
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1942. Three years into the war, Pamela Jackson turns down her hard-won place at Oxford University to become a codebreaker at Bletchley Park. There, she meets two young men, both keen to impress her, and Pam finds herself falling hard for one of them. But as the country’s future becomes more uncertain by the day, a tragic turn of events casts doubt on her choice. 
2019 Julia is struggling to juggle her career, two children and a husband increasingly jealous of her success. Her brother presents her with the perfect distraction: forgotten photos of their grandmother Pam as a young woman at Bletchley Park. The search for answers leads Julia to an incredible tale of betrayal and bravery – one that inspires some huge decisions of her own.
A lovely dual time story & I found both stories enjoyable Pam’s more than Julia’s. I found this to be a well written story but found the pace was slow to begin with but it did pick up. I loved the mix of mystery, intrigue & romance. This is the first story I’ve read by the author & it certainly won’t be the last. I’ve always been intrigued by Bletchley Park & even now its secrets are only coming to light.
My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read
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I have loved a lot of Kathleen McGurl's previous books, as the dual timeline is one of my favourite devices, when it is done well, as McGurl usually does.
I feel like this book was one of my lesser favourites of hers. Julia annoyed me from the start and I found it difficult to become invested in her troubles. I wanted her to have more of a backbone with her family and thought they took her for granted. 
I wanted Pam's story to take more of a central role in the story, as to me, the Bletchley history is much more fascinating than Julia's business.
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Great story of love, lies, secrets, and betrayals. I’ve read several books now with the code breakers from Bletchley Park and was thrilled to see this was also based there during WWII. This book did not disappoint.  Told as a dual story of a present-day woman, courageous and a pioneer in her field, and that of her grandmother, who forged a path thought to be unconventional at the time and secretly worked at Bletchley Park.  They are very much alike. 

Julia is the breadwinner of the family, much to the chagrin of her husband as she owns her own software company along with her best friend Ian.  Julia tries to juggle work and family to have it all, thus believing that to do so, she needs to do it all.  Julia also discovers that her grandmother had a secret after her brother brought her an old camera of her grandmother’s. But things begin to crumble both at work and at home.  How alike is Julia to her grandmother to be able to survive and thrive?

Destined for Oxford, Pamela was bright with a great aptitude in math and fluent in multiple languages.  Just the right qualifications for a secret group of women being recruited at Bletchley Park to help in the war effort as code breakers.  Pamela comes of age here, forging friendships with those like her and engaging in a romance that will affect her all her life. But she will always keep her secret.

I loved this book.  The storyline moved well and the characters were well developed. As Julia discovered Pamela’s story as it was told through the correspondence of her best friend’s memoirs, I thought it good that it was confirmed through Pamela’s own voice. This is a story of strength in the face of adversity and about the meaning of honor.  This book is fast paced and loaded with details about those who worked to support the war effort in England but no one knew about.  I found it fascinating.  Read this today.

Many thanks to #netgalley, #thegirlfrombletchleypark #kathleenmcgurl for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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The chapters alternate between life in 1942 at Bletchley Park, centred on Pam and a present -day narrative about her granddaughter, Julia. At first sight, the two women have very different lives and pressures, but as the stories develop, you can see that there are similarities around family life, the effect of marriage on a woman's career and trust in relationships. At first, I was more interested in the modern storyline but found that I was quickly hooked in and wanted to learn more about life at Bletchley Park.

   This is one of those stories where you will people to wake up and notice what seems pretty obvious to the reader. However, I think both Pam and Julia became so engrossed in their work that that became their focus. The two women are interesting characters who reflect the times they live in. Pam's desire to 'do her bit' for the Country is inspiring and a testament to the courage of the people who worked at Bletchley Park. Julia seems very much of her time too with so much to do in her work and home roles. As secrets are uncovered, you feel the effect on both women and I believed in both characters.

In short: Trust and loyalty are paramount
Thanks to the publisher for a copy of the book
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I did enjoy this book it was an easy read but did tell me information that I didn't know - given I live 10 mins away from Bletchley Park.  

The two time lines worked - I knew what was going to happen but half the fun is the how which is what I enjoyed.  This was a book that just needed to be devoured in one reading - it was such a good easy read. 

I was given an advance copy by the publishers and netgalley but the review is entirely my own
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I love dual timelines and this one is no exception. both the modern timeline and the wartime one are fascinating as the writer gets under the skin of the characters to keep the reader engrossed.

I could empathise with Julia in the contemporary version as she struggles to juggle running her own business with bringing up two sons and a husband who is unsupportive. As her world slowly unravels, Julia begins to research her grandmother's history which links us to Bletchley Park.

The Bletchley Park story is well-researched and full of intrigue , which kept me turning the pages.

I liked how everything came together in the end although I did think Julia's problems were resolved a little too quickly and easily.  All in all, a really enjoyable read.
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This dual time line novel was an easy read, full of intrigue and romance. The WWII setting at Bletchley Park was described in detail, and we get to peek into code breaking, this time NOT featuring decoding the Enigma code. Another huge machine was created, the Colossus, which seems to be an early design of the computer. I gave it three stars because the plots of each of timeline was formulaic.  Kathleen McGurl is a writer I look forward to reading in the future.
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The Girl from Bletchley Park was not what I expected from a historical fiction novel, it definitely did not fit the standard mold. 

The book follows Pamela from 1943 through the end of the war as she becomes a Wren and codebreaker at Bletchley Park. It also follows her granddaughter, Julia, in present day as she discovers the life her grandmother never spoke about. Both Pamela and Julia's story were so well developed, I felt like I really got to know them. I have found in similar style books that one character is really well developed and the present day character is not, definitely not the case here.

I really liked The Girl from Bletchley Park and if you like historical fiction I definitely recommend!
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I’ve read a few of this author’s books now and I’ve always found them to be interesting and captivating reads, blending history and modern day in a dual timeline. This book takes us back to the Second World War and the secrets of Bletchley Park. The modern day aspect introduces us to Julia who discovers lost photos of her grandmother, Pam as a young woman working at Bletchley Park and sets about finding out what role her grandmother had during the war.

I love the dual timelines in this book, you feel like you reading two different stories and getting the best of both worlds! Julia is a likeable character and one which I did feel sorry for. She has a lot of stresses in her life, with most of them brought about by the people closest to her, and delving into her family history brings her a little bit of escapism which she obviously needs! Her grandmother, Pam’s storyline was fascinating and I was really interested in how one ended up working in Bletchley Park and what ‘hush-hush’ work went on there. Pam is another likeable character and, similarly to her granddaughter several decades later, she has her own stresses to deal with, although made somewhat more difficult because of the war.

I was hooked into the storyline early on and enjoyed the alternating chapters between Pam and Julia. I usually find I prefer one character to another in these types of books but found myself liking them both equally. The storyline flowed along at a good pace, holding my interest throughout, and I loved the facts and figures, not just about Bletchley Park but also about the situation with Julia’s business. There are a few twists and turns through both stories and whilst it’s easy to work out where the stories are going, they were still gripping enough to keep you in suspense! Overall this was a very enjoyable read which I would definitely recommend!
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This is a story split between current times and WW2 times at Bletchley park.

Reading the first few chapters I thought the author was writing about me. I identified with Julia and everything she was experiencing with running a house, working and teenage sons. She finds out that her grandmother worked at Bletchley Park where codebreaking was undertaken during WW2. 

The story switches between Julia and her struggles with her business, her business partner and problems in her marriage to learning about her grandmother Pamela and her life at Bletchley park during the war and the relationships she formed.

I have given this book a 3⭐️ rating as I would have preferred more of a focus on the historical elements and in particular the work of code breaking. There was too great a focus in my opinion on the relationships in both the present and past neither of which were particularly interesting. I didn’t feel that the historical time period was written in a way that allowed me any insight into the time. 

Thanks to #NetGalley for my copy of #TheGirlfromBletchleyPark

Publish date 3 November
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The Girl from Bletchley Park is the latest book by one of my favorite authors, Kathleen McGurl. Her specialty genre is dual time which is a particular favorite of mine. Once again she has hit it out of the park.

The novel follows Julia in the present, a busy work from home mom, wife and owner of an IT company with a problematic home life. Her teenage boys are a bit spoiled and well teenagers, and her husband is distant and unsupportive. Her brother Bob shows up with some old family photographs and from these a mystery involving their grandmother unfolds. Amongst the pictures is a picture of their grandmother in front of Bletchley Park. During the war and indeed for years after what went on at Bletchley Park was kept quiet under the Official Secrets Act. It is only in recent years that the stories of Bletchley Park have been told. Now Julia has a picture of her grandmother there during the war. Was her grandmother involved in code breaking during WWII? 

The other time period follows Julia’s grandmother Pamela, Have graduated with honors and a place at Oxford, she is recruited by her teacher to assist with the work at Bletchley Park. Wanting to do her bit to assist the war effort, Pamela signs on. She meets Clarissa who she quickly befirends, and possible suitors Frank and Edwin. 

The dual story lines were engaging and I really enjoyed reading about Bletchley Park. This is not a part of WWII history that I was overly familiar with outside of the Bletchley Circle on PBS which takes place after the war. Once again Ms. McGurl has come up trumps with her historical story with a nice modern element as well.

Thanks to Netgalley, HQ Digital and the author for the chance to read and review this book.
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Good, but could have been better. I'm not sure whose story I preferred. I think because there was a dual time line, each story lacked depth. I found it hard to believe that Julia needed to be told what her husband was up to. It was obvious, but she seemed clueless. I would have liked more detail on the work going on at Bletchley Park, and a bit more on Pam and Edwin. As for Julia towards the end, it was unbelievable the way everything worked out so neatly. There wasn't much emotion from her, nor from Pam. in fact, Pam seemed to get over the sad news about a loved one very quickly. A bit more time needed to be spent on both timelines. With thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Using the common format of dual timeframes, this book flips between WWII (my favorite historical time to read) and present day.  Pamela is a smart, capable young woman ready to take up her spot reading maths at Oxford, when she is encouraged by her math teacher to consider an alternative job so where she can use her brain and “do her bit” towards the war effort.  It is not a spoiler to say she is accepted into a codebreaking group at Bletchley Park, as the title of the book gives that up.  The second story line is of Julia, an intellectually smart, but so (too) obviously lacking in relationship savvy.  Julia tries to “have it all” by running a business, being a wife and a mother.  We quickly find out Julia is the granddaughter of Pamela and come to learn more about Pamela’s time at Bletchley from a memoir written by Pamela’s friend Clarissa.

Although Pamela is doing important war work, she choses a boyfriend, Frank, for all the wrong reasons.  The reader comes to learn that Frank is German, and we can easily guess what that is going to mean in the story.  Julia is also doing good work at her IT company but puts trust in her friend and co-owner where it shouldn’t be.

The concept of the book is fantastic, but I felt the writing too easily allows the reader to guess the story rather than discover it bit by bit.  I also believe the reader added a lot of additional text when it wasn’t necessary, making the book longer than it needed to be.
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The Girl from Bletchley Park by Kathleen McGirl was a really enjoyable read. I loved the dual storylines of two smart women Julia and Pamela. I loved the little hints and the slow unfolding of the true family history. Bletchley park history is fantastic and while this book treads lightly on the historical storyline, I love how Kathleen links the intelligence, resilience and loyalty of the two female leads. We have love stories, losses, betrayals, real life temptations and problems. We also meet survivors who push through their troubles with the support of family and friends and come out the other end. A resounding 4.5 stars from me
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A tale of 2 lives - one in World War 2 and one in the present day.

Pamela completed her schooling in 1942 with exceptional exam results and is heading for Oxford University, but defers entry having been head-hunted to undertake secret Government work.  Having signed the Official Secrets Acet she heads off to Bletchley Park , en route, meeting Clarissa who is heading the same way and is set to become a life-long friend.  She works diligently alongside like-minded people, in particular shy Edwin, but soon falls in love with handsome Frank, a Gardner at Woburn Abbey where she and Clarissa are billeted.  Could Frank become her life-long partner or will     everything go wrong and will she find herself in great danger

Julia, frantically busy running a business in partnership with Ian, struggles to find time for her two sons and increasingly more jealous and moody husband.  Taking rare time off she arranges a day out for all of them to Bletchley Park, but at the last minute her husband has to work so just the three of them visit and explore the fascinating buildings.  Not long afterwards her brother brings her a box of old family photographs and during her rare spare time she immerses herself in her mother’s past, only to find numerous photographs of her standing in front of Bletchley House.  Why did her mother never mention this to either her or her brother.  Clarissa’s name appears on some of the photographs and eventually she is able to contact her granddaughter who can throw more light onto the turbulent times between 1942 and the end of the war.  It links uncannily with Julia’s troubled home life and leads her to having to make serious decisions about her future.
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The Girl from Bletchley Park by Kathleen McGurl was a fascinating novel told in two timelines...one current and the other starting in 1942, during WW2 in England.  

In the present day, Julia is struggling with the idea that she can have it all. Running her own business with a partner out of her home, her teenage sons have become distant and her husband even more so.  All of her attempts to reach out to her husband for more intimacy fall on deaf ears and she begins to wonder if perhaps he is having an affair. When her brother brings her a box of photos from her grandparents home, Julie is launched into a search of her grandmother's past, as her grandmother apparently had some long held secrets she never shared.

In 1942, Pam is graduating high school and planning to attend Oxford University to read mathematics.  Her teacher pulls her aside before graduation and tells her of a top secret war project that is searching for smart women to work at Bletchley Park, doing work that no one will discuss.  She arranges for an interview for Pam and she's hired for her quick mind and great attitude.  She will be working on decoding German messages that have been intercepted by the Allies, but has to tell family and friends that she is a secretary.  She holds these secrets her entire life.

As Julie searches her grandmother's past, with the help of a diary written by her aunt and being fed to her page by page, she uncovers the truth about her grandmother's adventures and her contribution to the war effort, as well as the truth about her marriage and her business. Can one woman really have it all without sacrificing something along the way?

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The author's attention to detail and descriptions were wonderful...although I must admit that the time spent in 1942 at Bletchley Park was the most fascinating part of the book!  Thank you to the author, HQ Digital and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review. #Kathleen McGurl. #TheGirlfromBletchleyPark #NetGalley
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★★★★ 4.5 stars

I first discovered Kathleen McGurl a couple of years ago with "The Forgotten Secret" and absolutely loved it. I have since read and also enjoyed "The Lost Sister" and now I can add THE GIRL FROM BLETCHLEY PARK to the list. Of course most people know about Bletchley Park's involvement during the second world war, so with that in mind it also ticked the box of being wartime fiction as well as my much favoured dual timeline story. Unlike other dual timelines though, THE GIRL FROM BLETCHLEY PARK weaves two compelling tales together that, whilst being entwined, are also completely separate. Intrigued?

The story begins in the present day with Julia, mother of two boys Oscar (14) and Ryan (12), juggling her flailing marriage and a successful IT business. The downside of running such a business, particularly when it is situated in the home, is that you never really leave work behind at the end of the day. And as much as Julia tried to do so things had a way of grabbing her attention and thus her then having to deal with it. It was one thing her husband of fifteen years Marc loathed, feeling as though she was never really present even when she was. But he also as jealous of the fact that she was the main breadwinner in the family with her salary purchasing their substantial home as well as paying the mortgage. He never outwardly admitted it but the sentiment was there, as were his frequent absences citing work as his excuse.

It was during one of these absences that Julia's brother Bob, who was a commercial pilot, popped in for a visit with a treasure trove of goodies for his sister that he'd found stashed in the home he inherited in Devon. Bob had decided to sell since he was never there and came across some old photos and mementos he thought his sister might be interested in. Some were photos of their late grandmother with the renowned Bletchley Park in the background. The photos, having been taken during the war years, left them wondering what it was their grandmother Pamela had been doing there since it certainly wouldn't have been open to the public during the war years.

Bletchley Park was the site of one of Britain's most prolific secret code breaking headquarters during the war. Anyone who had worked there had to sign the Offical Secrets Act and were sworn to absolute secrecy about the work they had done there...even long after the war had ended. So upon seeing their grandmother standing in front of Bletchley House with a few friends, one of which was also their grandfather, intrigued Julia and Bob wondering just how involved they were at Bletchley. Julia endeavoured to look into it in an attempt to uncover her grandmother's role during the war. When she contacted her gran's best friend's daughter Caroline, she was excited to learn that Caroline's mother Clarissa, with whom Pamela had worked alongside at Bletchley, had written a memoir in the 1990's revealing the nature of their work and lives in and around Bletchley.

It's 1942 and Pamela had just finished school and was preparing to take her place at Oxford reading mathematics when her teacher had called her aside and offered her something in which she could both use her mathematical brain and do something for the war effort for Britain. She gave her a name and instructions to follow up and without telling her parents Pamela made her way to Buckinghamshire for an interview. She was offered the job immediately and signed the Official Secrets Act and was inducted along with her fellow interviewees to become Wrens, beginning work in just a few days' time.

Deferring university until the end of the war, Pamela could only tell her family that she had joined the Wrens and would be working for the war effort. They seemed to understand the need for secrecy and respected that. Her brother Geoff had joined the RAF and was training as a fighter pilot, which worried both her and her parents alike as the life expectancy for a fighter pilot was very short.

Upon arrival at Bletchley, Pamela became friends with Clarissa whom she met at the interviews, and the two women were billeted together at nearby Woburn Abbey, a former stately home, though their jobs within Bletchley were at different ends of the scale. Not long after beginning work there, Pam met a handsome blonde man she'd seen lurking nearby on the day of her interview. She'd caught his eye on more than one occasion and he had offered her a tentative smile. She soon discovered he was a gardener at the house in which she was billeted unable to fight due to his asthma and his name was Frank Miller. The couple soon began to step out together, meeting up on days off whenever they could, and Pam felt herself beginning to fall for Frank. But when he started asking questions about her work, she could do nothing but fob him off with the answer they had been instructed to give. She was a secretary. He seemed satisfied with that and said no more.

Pamela was not without her suitors because although she was stepping out with Frank, she also held the interest of a much shyer and quieter colleague Edwin Denham. So much so Clarissa teased her about it. Pamela enjoyed Edwin's friendship but it was Frank she was enamoured with; a fact that was made obvious when they went to their first dance and while she had promised to dance with Edwin, it was with Frank she had spent most of her time. I kind of felt a little sorry for Edwin, fading into the background against the flashier more charismatic Frank.

But when it came down to it, Pamela found that it was Edwin she called on for help and advice. It was Edwin whose advice she valued and trusted. So then in the face of it, who would Pamela choose out of her two suitors?

THE GIRL FROM BLETCHLEY PARK is an easy and enjoyable read but I must say it is so difficult to review without the hint of spoilers! lol I love dual timeline stories but generally when reading them there is always one story I'm invested in more than the other...and that's usually the historical one. And I have to admit that when Julia's story began I was somewhat irritated by her lazy family's attitude, expecting her to pick up after them and wait on them whilst running her own business. Then to be bamboozled by the ins and outs of her IT business. I had little interest...until it began to get interesting. And then it had my attention. I couldn't decide then which timeline I preferred and both stories were equally compelling and intriguing. I did, however, find the technical aspects of Bletchley a little above my head and the very unmathematical part of was a little lost in part but the rest of the story was wholly engrossing.

The story unfolds in alternate chapters between Julia and Pam respectively, each revealing just a little bit more with each chapter. It was in part largely predictable but not unenjoyable. The twists weren't unexpected and I correctly figured them out along the way but then this wasn't a mystery either. I did find it similar in storyline to "The Secrets of Latimer House" by Jules Wake which I read a couple of months ago and thoroughly enjoyed...maybe a little more than this one, admittedly. But having said that, THE GIRL FROM BLETCHLEY PARK is still wonderfully written with the right amount of suspense and intrigue interwoven with the historical aspect.

Overall, THE GIRL FROM BLETCHLEY PARK is captivating and compelling with both timeline plots interwoven seamlessly in relation to the other.The conclusion I felt was a little rushed and would have preferred to end on the historical timeline rather than Julia's. That and the slow start to Julia's story knocks off just a meagre half star as the rest of the story made up for it.

Perfect for fans of dual timelines and authors such as Lorna Cook, Suzanne Kelman and Suzanne Goldring.

I would like to thank #KathleenMcGurl, #Netgalley, #HQStories and #RachelsRandomResources for an ARC of #TheGirlFromBletchleyPark in exchange for an honest review.
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I did enjoy this story told about Julia and her family in the present day and Pamela ( Julia’s grandmother) in 1943. The older story had more appeal to me and I found Pamela’s life at Bletchley very interesting. In fact, I was disappointed when the story reverted to the present day, I just wanted to keep reading Pamela’s story. There is a romance for Pamela and two men vying for her, also some mystery event that happened. Julia is a strong and capable woman but doesn’t get much help from her husband, Marc. Julia learns more about her grandmother through photographs and memoirs. I received a copy and have voluntarily reviewed it. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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