Cover Image: The Girl from Bletchley Park

The Girl from Bletchley Park

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this. I loved how it featured on one of the lesser known stories to come out of Bletchley and the work on Tunny. I really enjoyed the story and uncovering where it went.
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This was a stay-up-late and get-up-early to finish it kind of book! The Girl from Bletchley Park is a dual timeline story which tells the story of Julia in 2019 and Pamela in 1943. Julia is Pamela's granddaughter who is learning - in the midst of a lot of upheaval in her own life - that her grandmother had worked at Bletchley Park as one of the codebreakers during WWII. Both women overcome obstacles and hardships and come out stronger at the end. Highly recommended! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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I quite enjoyed this dual-narrative historical novel about Julia and her grandmother Pamela. Julia struck me as a capable woman juggling many hats: wife, mother, friend, small business owner. In her household, Julia seemed under-appreciated for her home-making, toiling away for little thanks from her two teenaged children and her lackluster husband. What I found immediately appealing about her work ethic and her general demeanour, her family didn't appreciate, and I found myself greatly disliking her husband in particular (who is one nasty, lying piece of work, let me tell you). At the climax of her story, I was in awe of her pride, self-worth and poise in the face of devastation, and I respected her so greatly for it. 

On the flip side, I too enjoyed Pamela's narrative as an intelligent young woman chosen to work at Bletchley Park, though i was less inspired by Pamela's journey. 

All in all, I felt it was a very solid historical fiction novel that told the story of two very inspiring women. 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an early copy of this novel in return for an honest review.
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This is a split timeline, historical thriller. Pretty much my favourite kind of book. There's also an added sprinkling of romance, although this is very much in the background and is only included where it's necessary to the plot. Otherwise, the thriller element is very much the focus of the narrative. There is tension present in both narratives, but more so in the historical sections. Whilst this isn't the kind of book that will have you turning pages quicker and quicker as the tension rises, it definitely holds your interest right to the end. The plot twists are flagged up quite early on and I had a fair idea where the plot was heading, but at no point did it ever feel that there was no point continuing - just because you know the destination doesn't mean you can't enjoy the journey, after all! 

McGurl's writing style is easy and engaging and she certainly knows how to evoke sympathy for her characters. I immediately identified with how Julia's day begins. The mental load  is something I think all women can identify with - my husband does a lot around the house, but I'm the one who has to know where everyone is meant to be and when and how they're going to get there. Physically it's not particularly a challenge, but trying to keep track of four people's schedules when one works long hours and only two can drive, is definitely a mental challenge. This is exacerbated as women move into the menopause - and I assume from the age of Julia's children that she is meant to be slightly older than me, so she definitely falls into this category - and brain fog descends. When we are meant to be at our most efficient and responsible in terms of our age, our brains often begin to let us down. As a writer, words are the tools of my trade but already I have times when I simply cannot think of the most basic word to describe something!

Age and responsibility going hand in hand is a theme which is addressed in the historical plot as well. There is a real juxtaposition of naivety and sense engendered in Pam. Her role at Bletchley and her understanding of the need to keep her job a secret means that it is often easy to forget that she is only 18 and very inexperienced in life. It is in her relationship with Frank that this side of her character is most in evidence. However, all of it just goes to show what a burden of responsibility was placed on the shoulders of the young during the Second World War. My father joined up when he was just 17 - only a year older than my eldest son is now. I cannot imagine sending him off to fight in a war when he can barely manage to cook himself a meal. He is still a child. My dad didn't have to sign the Official Secrets Act, but having got his war record many years after his death, I have so many questions that I want to ask him and can't, so I completely sympathise with Julia's need to piece together her family history.

This is the first of McGurl's books that I've read and I've already added some of her others onto my Wishlist ready for next year.
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Quite an enjoyable read. Historical fiction. A story of alternating timelines between the present day and the 1940s. Loved the simplicity of it. Thank You for providing me with the copy, NetGalley! I must say I was partial to the present day timeline more. All in all, it was a good engaging read.
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A dual narrative, present day Julia and historical Pam. Julia is Pam's granddaughter. Pam worked at Bletchley Park during the war. Pam's story was way more interesting and Pam herself much more likeable than Julia. Both straightforward stories. Julia is intensely irritating and I'm not sure the author liked her much either being very judgemental about working mums. Still Julia was pretty perfect in deciding how to squeeze in various household chores before starting her "proper" work.. How she was so blind to her husband's affair and her business going down the drain I'm not sure and it was this that made me think the author was being critical of working mums- see you can't have it all can you. Pam was likeable and I would much rather that the book focused mainly on her life. Not a bad read. A few typos, a her instead of him for instance and there was an awful lot of blushing!
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Anything with a mention of Bletchley Park, and I’m in. This is mainly about Pam, a naive 18year old who delays going to Oxford to study Maths when she is asked to go for an interview for a mystery job that help the war effort.  Julia is her grand daughter in present day, running her own IT business while juggling her two sons and running their home, with little help or appreciation from her husband, Marc.

The duel time line nicely lays out the story line, with authenticity for the work at Bletchley Park and a modern day household with two working parents. I could have done with less of Julia’s life and more at Bletchley, particularly the work that went on there. For me it didn’t need such a detailed telling of Julia’s story, who comes across as more naive then her 18year old grandmother. However, it’s a nice easy read that I enjoyed, even if I had guessed most of the plot twists. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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Julia works from home while trying to care for her teenage sons and her husband Marc (who is a most unlikeable character).

Pam is a bright school leaver, recruited to work at Bletchley Park during the war. 

In this Dual timeline story we follow both Julia and Pam as they navigate issues that crop up in their lives.

Pan’s story is by far the most interesting  and I’d have liked to read more of her and her friends. 

Julia, in the modern day, is maddeningly blind to things around her. Short of taking out an advert in the paper, I’m not sure her husband could have been more obvious. I also felt the author was a bit Sneery about women who work full time and raise a family. It felt a little like it was all Julia’s fault for neglecting her family which was a disappointing theme. 

I did enjoy the story but I’d have loved more detail about Bletchley as I find it absolutely fascinating! 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for my copy of this book.
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Sadly disappointing.  The book would have been better written just about Bletchley Park.  The modern day story added nothing to it and how the main character (who was educated and bright) couldn't see sooner that her husband was having an affair and her business broke I'll never know. I would have liked to have known more about life BP and what went on in other 'departments' such as where Clarissa worked. My Grandad took his wartime secrets working in chemicals for bomb making to his grave and I wish we knew more.
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I am fascinated by Bletchley Park and everything they did during WWII so this book was right up my street. I liked the two different timelines and each main character had a distinctive voice, however, I felt like sometimes the switch was too abrupt and I could have used another chapter with one character before switching back to the other. Also, the way that they spoke about Clarissa being just their grandmothers close friend when she turned out to be her sister in law was a bit odd. I know the author was trying to make that a surprise but it read weirdly and was especially odd after finding out that the big reveal at the end. But, other than that- I loved it!
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It was an interesting book to read and as I live fairly local to Bletchley Park is was good to know about other things. Well written and a good book for my Book Club.
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This is an enjoyable dual timeline story. The present day and Bletchley Park, 1942 stories are carefully interwoven to make a fascinating, gripping tale. Kathleen McGurl is becoming a firm favourite author of mine and I look forward to the next.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity of reading this.
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This is a dual-timeframe novel in which two women are seriously let down by men in their lives. In 2019, Julia is setting up a new company with her business partner, Ian, who she trusts with the company finances. She also has problems in her marriage. Julia finds an old box brownie camera with film left inside, which she get developed. They feature her grandmother, Pamela, and her colleagues at Bletchley Park, who worked on an early computer system there. She had never spoken about this, having been sworn to secrecy during the war years. Pam makes many friends there and has a choice of men interested in 'walking out' with her: handsome Frank Miller, a young gardener working at Woburn Abbey, where she is billeted and Edwin Denham, a fellow Bletchley recruit. She makes the wrong choice. Interesting from the Bletchley perspective, but a shame there wasn't more about how she used her talents with languages. Look forward to reading more from Kathleen McGurl.
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The girl from Bletchley park by Kathleen McGurl
Pamela in 1943 a bright student is handpicked to work at the top secret Bletchley park. This story has a duel timeline. Julia is Pamela  great _ granddaughter.  I was invested in both stories . Enjoyed this book and would read Kathleen's books again good story teller.
Thank you Netgalley for letting me review this book
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The Girl from Bletchley Park is told in dual timelines with current day Julia and her grandmother, Pam, during WWII time.   Bletchley Park is one of those places that I'm so glad is preserved for today's visitors.  Hearing about the work that happened there is amazing and to be able to read the history of what was accomplished is fascinating.

Although an enjoyable story, I found Julia's side to be a bit long.  Her marital problems, home office problems, and 2 teenage sons made her sound like she was falling apart.  Luckily, her brother found an old camera case with photos in it and gave her a distraction to begin investigating her grandmother's life.

This time period is my favorite of the historical fiction genre, so I enjoyed Pam's timeline better than the current day timeline.  A fast read with a bit of love, betrayal, and self discovery for both women.  Overall, not a bad novel.
Thanks to #netgalley and #HQDigital for this advanced copy.  Publication is set for November 3, 2021.
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Thanks Netgalley and the Publisher.   I really enjoyed the storyline, characters and the whole book in general.   I would recommend this to other readers
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A captivating dual timeline story, which I found easy to read and could barely put down.    We have Pamela going off to do her duty by working at Bletchley Park where she meets two young men who find her attractive. One of them has  other reasons for wanting to make her acquaintance!  The other is genuinely fond of her.
The other timeline is about Julia, the granddaughter of Pamela.  Julia and her brother Bob uncover some old family photos leading them to believe that their gran may have worked at Bletchley, a fact never mentioned in the family so Julia determines to find out more.  This is while she is having marital/work issues of her own.
I especially liked that both timelines were equally as exciting, normally when reading this type of book one favours more.
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While cleaning out her grandmothers home julia discovers old photographs  and portions of what looks to be a manuscript. Julia discovers there was more to her grandmother than she would ever have imagined. Her grandmother along  with her best friend(and eventual sister in law) worked as decoders in England during the Second World War . The characters were real and authentic  and the situations relevant. Although I thought some of this was predictable it was an enjoyable read.
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“Could you love someone without trusting them?“

Each protagonist in this dual timeline asks herself the same question. The two narratives mirror each woman’s frustration with a partner whom they can’t trust. One has a husband she can’t trust to pull his weight in the family home nor can she trust him with finances. The other has a boyfriend with ties to the Nazi party. Successful careers for both depend on them trusting their partners. Readers have a front-row seat to see how each deals with the issue at hand. 

“But there was no amount of computer code that could get them out of this problem.”

While I love Kathleen McGurl’s work, I was disappointed with this one mainly because of my own expectations. Please keep this in mind – MY expectations. I was hoping to read about the details of life in Bletchley Park but instead read about the lives of those who worked there. Being a STEM teacher, I was hoping to read more about math and code-breaking and the strong women who aided Britain in bringing a swift end to the war. Disappointment aside, I was intrigued to read about the Colossus story because it often takes a backseat to Alan Turning’s fame in breaking the Enigma code. I commend the author for bringing to light a lesser-known but equally important part of history  - those involved with breaking the Tunny code. I loved the sections with Pam and Edwin setting up and running the Colossus and wanted more detail. In fact, I felt this narrative was stronger and more interesting and could have held its own. The author did a superb job in making sure her readers knew the angst these codebreakers experienced in not sharing details of the work they did at Bletchley Park. They were instrumental in bringing a swift end to the war, but no one could know about their role in the success. Thanks to this book, visiting the birthplace of modern computing and learning more about the top-secret home of the World War Two code breakers is on my bucket list. 

I would have loved to have seen a tauter narrative as I found myself grazing for facts that were relevant to the plot. I also would have loved to have seen stronger protagonists as I found it difficult to believe that smart women would have been so naïve. 

While packing up to move this year, the author discovered two Box Brownie cameras in her mother’s possessions. Her writer-brain questioned what if the cameras had contained film and what if the developed photos raised questions about her family history. Running with this idea, she paired it with her desire to write about Bletchley Park and planned on focusing on Travis and Tommy Flowers who designed the Colossus computer. I love hearing how ideas for books come about! Congratulations to the graphic designer for such a fantastic cover! 

McGurl has two more historical fiction books in the works for 2022; one set in Chamonix and one set in Dublin. 

Publishes November 3, 2021. 

I was gifted this advance copy by Kathleen McGurl, HQ Digital, and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.
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The Girl from Bletchley Park by Kathleen MKcGurl is a dual time lime story. Julia's marriage and her business are falling apart. As she deal with the crises all that involves, she receives some things that belonged to her grandmother, Pam. Among them was an old Brownie camera with film still in it. When she has it developed she sees photos of her grandmother with two different men in front of an imposing building. As she digs deeper, she learns her grandmother was one of the codebreakers who worked in Bletchley Park during WWII. Julia had no idea. 

Pam's story is the second one in the book and to me was more interesting than Julia's. The secrecy, spies, heartbreak, the history all make for a compelling story.
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