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Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: New Year, New Worlds
Author Guest / January 19, 2022

Although the societal shifts that happened after World War I might have been more ground-breaking, by the 1940s, women were still mostly confined to traditional roles as wives and mothers or to a few “approved” careers, such as secretaries, sales clerks, or nurses.  The advent of World War II and the resulting manpower shortage once again opened opportunities—and challenges—for women to explore vastly different and sometimes dangerous occupations.  This month’s selection of stories transports the reader from England to Russia to the Hawaiian islands as intrepid ladies in difficult times take on exciting, essential, and unprecedented work. In roughly chronological order, we begin with THE ROSE CODE by Kate Quinn.  As German submarines ravage British shipping, Bletchley Park, a stately house in Buckinghamshire, is converted into the top-secret headquarters of a group of academics, scientists, mathematicians, and puzzle fanatics whose goal is breaking the German military communication code.  Included in this group are three very unlikely code-breakers: Canadian debutante Osla, beautiful, wealthy and one of Prince Phillip’s flirts; East-Ender Mab, who burns to utilize her wits and expertise to rise from poverty to make a genteel marriage, and shy spinster Beth, whose brilliance at solving puzzles soon turns her into…