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The Bletchley Girls

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  714 ratings  ·  91 reviews
The story of the women of Bletchley Park, Britain'stop secret code-breaking school,is told through exclusive interviews with the women who served their country, and the impact that their service had on the rest of their lives

Based on extensive interviews conducted specifically for this book, Tessa Dunlop tells the story of the Bletchley Girls through the lives of 15 women
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published June 1st 2015 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published January 8th 2015)
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Kyle I see that it is available from the Kindle Store, currently $6.99.

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This book disappointed me - mainly because of the piecemeal and episodic nature of the way the women's experiences were presented. It felt disjointed and in places got slightly confusing (owing to the author's style of presenting the women's recollections, not because it's poorly written). I'd have preferred to read each woman's experiences written as a coherent, chronological whole.
Cathy Evans
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
I struggled to keep tabs on each girls story. A list/reference at the beginning of the book of each girls name and brief back story would have been useful. I feel I didn't get all I could from the book as I couldn't remember who was who. That said it is an interesting read- I gave up trying to remember who was who and just read their stories.
This is not an introduction to what went on at Bletchley Park - for that you should turn to other books (and they are out there, so that is really not a problem). Instead this is an in-depth interview book with 15 women, alive at the time of the book being written, about themselves, BP and how they viewed everything. Not only is this a really nice bunch of colourful women, but it also gives a wider picture - really underscoring how different people perceive the same thing (which includes life at ...more
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it
A wonderful introductory book, the narrow focus (achieved by focusing on only 15 women, all who were still alive at the time of writing) gives this a distinctly personal edge. I wouldn't call it comprehensive though, and the focus is most definitely on the women as individuals rather than the work they did. That is not to be taken as criticism, but rather a note to inform the reader. If you want to know about Bletchley there are plenty of other options.

What makes this such a gem is that we are
Gerald Sinstadt
Not the best place to start reading about Blechley Park and the Enigma code-breakers. However, The Blechley Girls fills in af ew gaps and may serve future generations as a slice of social history. But many readers may find its structure irritating.

Tessa Dunlop has tracked down fifteen representative women who worked at BP or one of its satellites, all now in their late eighties or nineties. Her technique then, it appears, was to conduct a long interview with each one covering the same areas. The
Mike Sumner
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to my brother for this one. Another book covering the remarkable story of Bletchley Park, a story that remained withheld from the public for three decades following the end of the 2nd World War. Station X as it was known was home for the duration of the war to thousands of personnel working on decoding Enigma signals from the Germans. By 1944 women outnumbered men at Bletchley three to one. These are the girls who helped outsmart the enemy within the confines of a Buckinghamshire estate. ...more
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
Really interesting but would have made a better documentary than book. I found it virtually impossible to keep up with all the characters & therefore was unable to invest in them. An excell spreadsheet might have assisted
David Proffitt
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bletchley Park's role during the second world war has been well documented in recent years. This once highly secret hub of the Allies' intelligence gathering activities has been the subject of numerous books, films and TV programmes, But it is fair to say that by and large, the central characters in these tales have been the big hitters such as Alan Turing whose genius paved the way for the computer revolution.

This book is a little different. IN The Bletchley Girls, journalistTessa Dunlop looks
booklover BEV
Enjoyed it

Fifteen women sent to work during ww2 at Bletchley park(station X). Tell their stories all now in late eighties and nineties and all have accounts of what it was like to tell the author. I visited Bletchley park this year for the first time it was so interesting that I looked forward to reading and finding out more. Some good accounts but found I was flicking pages but overall not a bad read
Halina Connelly
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Having the memory of a goldfish, this book required 100% sobriety to make any sense of it.
It was not easy to keep track of the different women, but provided a useful background to the role of women during and shortly after WWII.
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent corrective to The Bletchley Circle and other fictional versions of events in that very secretive location. The most surprising thing to me was that the young women working there were not chosen for their circuitous minds or high intellect or good education but for their reliability and trustworthiness. Coming from "the right circles" helped and having military officers in one's family certainly didn't hurt but basically the question was whether you could do a routine job ...more
Sharon Stine
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once I got used to the fact that I was reading historical documented research about Bletchley Park (very well done) based on extensive interviews the writing became a narrative about a place in time that I could more easily follow. Having so many subjects (15 women I think) caused me to be totally mixed up in the beginning since they were all introduced immediately. The writing jumped around from one woman to the other and it was frustrating for me as a reader. It was helpful to discover that ...more
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The collective biography of a dozen women who worked at Bletchley Park and are now very elderly. A great mix of social and war history alongside the lives of these women. A really enjoyable read.
I gobbled it up.

The author interviewed 15 surviving women (2014) of the thousands who were in some way connected to the code breaking processes going on at Bletchley Park and its outstations. Some helped figure out what the likely words would be that would help the "bombes" unscramble the Enigma codes the German machine changed each day. Some minded and fed the "bombes" with the "menu" figured out of letters from the before mentioned team - a tedious task of making sure the many little pins were
Jeannie Mancini
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
While the London Blitz was raining destruction down upon her majesty’s city, amazing events were occurring at a place called Bletchley Park just a short distance away. Author Tessa Dunlop’s non-fiction retelling of the World War II code-breakers comes alive as she unravels the lives of eleven women all involved in various top-secret acts of derring-do.

Her story uncovers many covert operations that many young British ladies were eager to assist with as they joined the WRENS (Women’s Royal Navy
It’s not possible to read a book like this without being a little awestruck at what ordinary people endured in Britain during WW2. This remarkable history of the unsung women of Bletchley is an eye-opener into working conditions that none of us would tolerate today…

Bletchley Park, immortalised in films such as The Imitation Game and the TV series The Bletchley Circle, was the centre of intelligence gathering in Britain. As the war progressed, Bletchley grew from modest beginnings in 1938 to
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
It was an interesting time in our collective history and I’m personally fascinated by the World War II drama and intrigue. I’m particularly interested in the code breaking/enigma machines aspect. This book was not really that. It’s a collective retelling of what this large group of women did to help further the cause of their nation. And while I applaud their devotion to their country and the sacrifices they made, this book was not that interesting.

First, there were too many stories going on at
Jeanne Hedge
Not Really Code Breaking

Fifteen women tell stories of their time as part of the Bletchley Park codebreaking operation during WWII, and, briefly, their lives before and after. This is more about the social and cultural aspects of the time and how it impacted their lives, with little about what they actually did at BP and the other locations they were assigned to. To be fair, because of the need-to-know nature of the work most people at BP didn't know how their particular task fit into the overall
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book recounts the details of the lives of fifteen women who worked in Bletchley Park during WWII. Due to the amount of women being discussed, some stories and women shine brighter than others and are more easily remembered throughout the reading.

However, it is not necessary to always remember what was previously said about a particular woman to still find the various events from her life interesting. The overall story that is brought out through all these varying accounts is a fascinating
Dec 09, 2017 rated it liked it
So few of these woman are still alive. We are fortunate that Dunlop got the assignment of writing about them while a few still lived to be interviewed. She explores the lives of each. A few stood out after their Bletchley assignments; the others might have lived ordinary lives if it wasn't for the war. Instead they helped save Britain.

I recommend taking notes about each character at the beginning: names, roots, talents. Since I didn't, I needed to go back and reread the first few chapters after
Jun 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tessa Dunlop gave a Public Lecture at York Literature Festival in 2015 on 'The Bketchley Girls' - she was certainly an entertaining and engaging speaker. Having visited Bletchley Park earlier this year I decided to read the book. I must say I found this to be a bit of a slog. Perhaps to do with the fact that the story of the 15 Bletchley Girls tried to follow themes and hence their own stories seemed to become somewhat confused. Nevertheless I was determined to finish the book.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While initially quite challenging keeping up with who's who, I quite enjoyed the vignettes and slice of life recollections of this impressive group of women. What an achievement, truly, to take on such a task of writing this book. It's not perfect, and it felt a bit of a slog here and there (took me way longer to get through than reading a book of this size typically does), but I'm glad to know the intricate details of life as a woman at Bletchley Park. I'm better for it.
Brian Harrison
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Quite good, an interesting account of the ' girls ' involved in the day to day background work of coding that Bletchley has become famous for. An inside look at what was, for many girls, work that was both incredibly demanding, but unbelievably tedious, for the most part, with occasional burst of excitement.Informative and entertaining descriptions of what passed for social life, all making for an interesting if undemanding read.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Way to many charachters to keep track of. The author jumped around telling the stories of the women and some of the issues didn't apply to many of them. Would have enjoyed it much more if she had told their stories individually rather than comparing what they had in common and what was different about their experiences.
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting Lost History

I love these lesser known stories of history, and reading about the people who did their part to change history. This is well written, and brings a good balance to the romanticizing that has occurred regarding Bletchley. If you're interested in WWII history, this should be included on your reading list.
S Sande
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Amazing work done by many, many women in WWII. Book is a little hard to follow the dozen or so women still living who could tell their story. Each having such a different task. And not knowing or divulging what they or others did. Not until 1974 did they ever tell their families. It is a story that needs to be read, heard and appreciated.
Alex Howard
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really interesting look at what life was actually like for the women who worked at Bletchley. It was a little hard to keep track of different individuals stories but on the whole you get a good sense of their different experiences. Only sad that it took so long for their important contribution to be recognised.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good book on the experiences and lives of several women who worked at Bletchley, very fascinating. It also explores the more general context of these women's lives (education, background)... I thought it was a fascinating book and would recommend it to anyone who's interested by World War II and the role of women during the war.
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Tessa Dunlop is a television presenter, radio broadcaster and historian. She has presented history programmes on BBC1 London, BBC2, Discovery Europe, Channel 4, UKTV History and the History Channel (USA).

In 2005 Dunlop won a Royal Television Society award for her work on regional magazine show Inside Out West.

In 2007 Dunlop filmed Paranormal Egypt, a six-part series, with Derek Acorah on location