Originally published in the Canberra Weekly on 25 March 2021.
Publisher: HQ (Trade Paperback – 3 March 2021)
Length: 460 pages
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Interested in a fantastic historical fiction novel that looks at a unique and overlooked part of Australia’s history? Then make sure to check out The Codebreakers by bestselling author Alli Sinclair, an amazing and dramatic novel that I found to be extremely captivating and powerful.
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?
The Codebreakers was an amazing and well-written historical drama from Australian author Alli Sinclair, who has previously penned several other great historical novels. This latest book from Sinclair tells the impressive and captivating tale of some of the most unique women in Australia’s storied war history, the secret codebreakers of Central Bureau. This proved to be an impressive and captivating read that I powered through in a quick amount of time, especially as Sinclair came up with a clever and compelling narrative.
Throughout this outstanding tale, Sinclair not only covers the intricacies of a fascinating group of female codebreakers, also known as the Garage Girls (they worked out of a garage), but also includes some excellent character-driven drama as the protagonist is forced to come to terms with the secrecy of her work as well as the various tragedies that befall her and her friends as the war takes it harsh toll. Throw in an intriguing spy thriller angle, as the Garage Girls find out that one of their own may be a traitor, and this becomes quite an intriguing and exciting read. I loved the great blend of excitement, adventure and tragedy that the author produced, and I really liked how she not only showed the protagonist’s entire tenure with the Garage Girls but also featured the tragic aftermath of the war, where the consequences of the protagonist’s decisions and the loneliness of missing friends and colleagues forces her to choose a different path. Readers will swiftly find themselves very attached to the main protagonist and her amazing story, and I had a great time seeing this entire tale unfold.
I must highlight the excellent historical aspects of The Codebreakers as Sinclair has clearly done some intense research on this period. I really enjoyed the intriguing examination of the Central Bureau codebreakers who were active in Brisbane during WWII and who helped to decrypt transmissions and provide vital information to the Allies. Throughout this great book, Sinclair really goes into great detail about the work the codebreakers would have done and some of the impacts of their work. She also tries to examine the mentality that surrounded these codebreakers, both in their work and outside it, as each codebreaker was forbidden to talk about their work to anyone, both during the war and after it. This proves to be an intriguing and intense central part of the novel’s drama, and it is apparently based on interviews that Sinclair did with surviving members of the real-life Garage Girls. This was an impressive and amazing basis for this great story and I deeply enjoyed learning more about this fascinating and formerly-secret women.
I also enjoyed the way in which the author perfectly captured the feel of mid-war Brisbane throughout The Codebreakers’ story. Sinclair laces her narrative with a lot of fascinating discussions about various military attacks that hit Australia, wartime polices and general thoughts and feelings about the war and the people involved with it. However, I was most impressed with Sinclair’s attempts to capture the mentality of the people on the home front in Brisbane at the time. Not only did you get the frustrations of the common Australian citizen/soldier as they dealt with the deployed American soldiery, but there is also the sadness and regret of those that survived. You could almost feel the despair of several characters in this book, especially after the deaths of some of their loved ones, and it was a truly moving inclusion in this fantastic and powerful read. All of these historical inclusions were really remarkable, and I had an outstanding time exploring Sinclair’s vision of this intriguing and momentous period of Australian history.
The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair was an awesome and moving historical drama that proved to be an exceptional examination of a truly unique group of Australian women. Sinclair makes perfect use of the amazing historical basis for her novel and turns it into quite an exciting and captivating tale of resilience, friendship and romance, which comes highly recommended. I really enjoyed this fantastic novel and I loved learning so much about the codebreakers of Australia’s Central Bureau.
WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?
So, let’s get to it.
Dangerous Women by Hope Adams (Trade Paperback)
Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka (Trade Paperback)
The Kaiser’s Web by Steve Berry (Audiobook)
The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair (Trade Paperback)
That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.