From the outset I didn't particularly like Honey as a lead character. She seemed weak and at points annoyingly 'blushy' and awkward. I would have preferred her to be a little more kick ass and confident. In the end she warmed on me a little, but I still didn't feel like she was the kind of character I would be friends with.
I much preferred the characters of Moira, who was a secretive code-breaker having an affair with an American, or Beatrix, a fellow typist who had more gumpsion (as they say in the films) in her few small appearances, then Honey had in the whole book.
It was obvious from the very beginning of the story that the author Lucy Ribchester had done a lot of research to ensure that the detail was accurate. I attended an event at Glasgow's Aye Write book festival earlier this year at which she spoke about visiting Bletchley Park, which is now an open museum, and learning about what life at the Park was like. Bletchley Park was notoriously a top-secret, 'squeal and we'll shoot you' kind of place, and I think the author has portrayed this perfectly in the book as I was instantly suspicious of everyone and everything in the book. I really liked the attention to detail, especially on subjects such as war time rations, clothes, makeup and the general atmosphere of the work at Bletchley. I felt like I was learning something, and yet being entertained by a great story at the same time.
One or two gripes I had with the book was when occasionally details were dropped into conversation that I felt were only there to show an interesting fact about something to do with the war rather then actually adding anything to the story. But these didn't impede my overall enjoyment of the story.
I really liked The Amber Shadows (I read it in 3 days) and Lucy Ribchester is a talented writer. I'm already looking forward to reading her first book, The Hourglass Factory that is set during the time of the suffragettes. I've also got a ticket to her event at this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival, where hopefully she'll reveal plans for a new book.
Title: The Amber Shadows
Author: Lucy Ribchester
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
ISBN: 978 1471139284