10 Books Like The Rose Code: War Work, Betrayal and Female Friendship

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Kate Quinn’s The Rose Code follows a group of female codebreakers working in Bletchley Park during the darkest period of WWII. Readers loved this historical fiction for its tense, action-packed pacing, unforgettable characters, and thrilling plotline.

If you loved the book too and are craving more, we’ve got you covered. What follows are ten books like The Rose Code, each of which will deliver on different elements of Quinn’s immersive novel.

We’ve chosen a range of books similar to The Rose Code in both fiction and non-fiction. Some are set during WWII and feature female war workers or spies. There are some books featuring women who bucked the prevailing sexism to deliver important national security work. Some of these books deliver on themes of friendship, betrayal, loss, hope, and redemption. And there are a few, more current thrillers that deliver on that whole spy, subterfuge and betrayal element.

Books like The Rose Code, with book covers.

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8 Fiction Books Like The Rose Code

If you are reading (or have read) The Rose Code for book club, be sure to use our Rose Code discussion guide to help fuel your conversation.

Here are your readalikes for The Rose Code:

The Only Woman in the Room, Marie Benedict

Benedict excels at delivering fictionalized stories of real women doing extraordinary things. This book profiles 1930’s silver screen star Hedly Lamarr. She was well known for her beauty, but her brilliance as a scientist was often overlooked.

The book covers her time in pre-WW2 Austria, where she married an arms dealer. As his trophy wife, she gained access to the Austrian elite. She gathered lot of intelligence and developed her natural talent for science along the way. After escaping Austria and her controlling husband, she becomes a star in Hollywood.

While there, she also works on developing an early version of a frequency-hopping signal which she hoped could prevent a torpedo’s radio guidance system from being tracked or jammed.

This is a good follow-up to The Rose Code if you like the WWII and science-y elements.

And if you like this sort of fictional autobiography, check out our discussion guide for The Personal Librarian, which was also written by Benedict. We’ve also featured this book as a readalike for our discussion guide to The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post– similar themes of strong women taking ownership of their lives.

The Princess Spy, Larry Loftis 

Based on a true story, this spy thriller is about a young American woman named Aline Griffith who wants to help out in WWII. She joins the OSS, a forerunner of the CIA, eventually becoming one of their most daring WWII spies. Full of adventure and danger, Aline engages in deep-cover espionage to counter Nazi tactics in Madrid, and eventually marrying European royalty and becoming the Countess of the Romanones. 

The Huntress, Kate Quinn

This is a triple timeline historical fiction centered around WWII which weaves together three very different characters; a Russian pilot named Nina from an all-female bomber unit, an American female photographer named Jordan, and Ian, an English correspondent who’s committed to exposing Nazi war criminals as a Nazi hunter. After the war, Nina joins Ian in a search to find “the Huntress” a murderess Nazi that is known for war crimes against innocent Polish children she killed in cold blood.

This book is similar to The Rose Code for its WWII setting and female protagonists.

Lilac Girls (#1 Woolsey-Ferriday), Martha Hall Kelly

This historical fiction tells a intertwined story of three different women whose lives intersect during WWII. Kasia, a Polish teenager, was sent to Nazi concentration camp, Herta a German doctor who works in a camp, and Caroline, a French consultant and NY socialite. These women’s lives intersect and they help save thirty-five Polish women from Nazi concentration camps.

This book is like The Rose Code not only for its WWII setting, but it also features strong, tenacious women and female friendship.

The Lost Girls of Paris, Pam Jenoff

This book was inspired by true events and it features a handpicked group of British female spies sent to France by a top-secret government agency during WWII. While there, they are tasked with connecting with the resistance movement, gathering intel and performing acts of sabotage.

The book is harrowing, poignant and it features strong women thrust into roles that were previously reserved just for men.

My Brilliant Friend, Elene Ferrante

This book is not set in WWII and Elena and Lily are not code-breakers or spies. But Ferrante’s extremely popular novel is about an intense friendship and rivalry between two girls growing up in the impoverished outskirts of Naples.

The book features class dynamics, smart women held back by society, and a tricky friendship that is always teetering on the brink of disaster.

Codename Villanelle (#1 Killing Eve), Luke Jennings

Villanelle is a skilled assassin who specializes in killing the rich and powerful, and who loves a lux lifestyle. Eve works for MI6 and she’s been tasked with taking Villanelle down.

This tense political thriller presents a cat and mouse game where each woman sees something of themselves in the other. It’s a good read if you want to take the thriller elements from The Rose Code and kick them up a bunch of notches.

Northern Spy, Flynn Berry

If you liked The Rose Code‘s espionage and betrayal plotlines, then this may be your next fave read. Northern Spy is set in recent-ish Northern Ireland. The IRA has gone underground and things are ostensibly peaceful after the Good Friday agreement, but the IRA is still pulling heists and planning chaos.

News producer Tessa is shocked when she sees her sister Marian’s face in the video footage of a robbery. Marian is now on the run, Tessa is pulled into a spy scheme and their mother has her own secrets. The relationships between the three women are heavily taxed and there is a ton of betrayal to go around.

2 Non-Fiction Books Similar to The Rose Code

Hidden Figures, Margot Lee Shetterly

(Subtitle: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race)

This true story starts during WWII but carries on through NASA’s golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, and the Cold War. At a time when women and minorities were hardly given the time of day, much less important jobs in National Security, these five Black women were hired as “human computers”.

They bucked the odds, performing extremely complicated math during a critical time at NASA.

Code Talker, Chester Nez and Judith Schiess Avila

(Subtitle: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII)

If you were interested in The Rose Code‘s whole crypto thing, then you will be fascinated to learn about the Navajo men who created an unbreakable code for the US during WWII.

The Navajo language is so unique that using it for the campaign in the Pacific meant that the Japanese simply couldn’t crack it. 400 Navajo men served during WWII. Nez was among the first, serving in Guadalcanal. His memoir covers the development of the code, his life as a member of the Navajo Nation and his experiences during the war.

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