The Enigma Game – Elizabeth Wein

This is part of the Code name Verity cycle. I have read and loved Code Name Verity and Rose under Fire. As a pilot, there are segments in both of these books that speak brilliantly to me of the wonder of flight.

The Enigma Game, is set in England and Scotland during 1940/41. Louisa Adair has lost her Jamaican mother and English father and is cast loose. She takes a job looking after an ageing opera singer in a pub near Windyedge, a coastal RAF airfield in Scotland, but is the old lady English or German?

The story intertwines the lives of the crews of a flight of Blenheim bombers stationed at the airfield, with Louisa and her elderly charge together with the story of the Enigma coding machine, eventually cracked by Alan Turing and others at Bletchley Park.

The characters are well rounded and their motivations are believable, following from who they are and what is happening around them. Wein has wound diversity into this story in an interesting and illuminating way. Louisa’s mixed race causes the expected reactions from people 80 years ago – until they look more than skin deep. This is set against another character – from a tinker family – who is able to ‘hide in plain sight’ as she is white. Her memories of the discrimination against her before she was able to hide in the anonymity of a uniform are an interesting contrast to the discrimination Louisa feels every day.

The Enigma Game is a good read – perhaps lacking some of the searing emotions of Code Name Verity, but still a great read and one that tackles the issue of discrimination in a various guises very well.

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Robert Hart - author

I write and fly gliders

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