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 the Central Bureau - an intelligence organisation working with England's Bletchley Park codebreakers. But joining the 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?'An intriguing story of courage, friendship and resilience.' - Belinda Alexandra
A stimulating read, based on real life experiences
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.