I picked up The Amber Secrets and placed it in my trolley without even reading the blurb for one reason; Lucy Ribchester is a fantastic author.
The story is set in the Second World War and focuses around the incredible work done at Bletchley Park by code breakers.
The main character is Honey who is a typist working on an enigma machine; these were used to break the German coded messages. Honey begins to receive mysterious packages which she believes are being sent from Russia; having been told by her brother that their biological father is Russian, Honey is convinced this is a desperate attempt by her father to get in touch.
It appears that random pieces of amber are being sent to her, but as you can guess, it’s not as simple as that. The amber has an usual coating on them; which following an accident in a bath, washes off to reveal codes.
Through connections in work, Honey finds out what messages the codes were protecting. By this point, Honey realises the amber is fake and isn’t quite sure if her father is sending the packages after all… Could it be her brother, who struggles to see the difference between reality and fantasy?
The war, code breaking, the secrets and the implications of these can make anyone break and although we see, Moira being hospitalised from these pressures, we also see Honey begin to unravel from the stress of it all too… Who will believe her? Luckily, there’s the tall, ruggedly handsome Felix and his dog; Nijinksy, who Honey begins to fall for.
When things start to fall apart, Felix is there for Honey, and continues to guide her down the path to the truth… which turns out to be the polar opposite of what Honey imagined.
Whilst the story is reasonably fast paced, there are a few beautifully placed moments that remind you how every day life was affected by the war. My favourites were the second hand baths; utilised for clothes washing, and the temptation of your neighbour’s chicken’s eggs…
The way Ribchester knits together history with a fictional story; as we saw in The Hourglass Factory also, makes for an engrossing and education read. I finished the book, feeling satisfied and reflective on what all the men and women of this country provided for the war effort.
Until next time, Chloe x
P.S. I have just finished reading the Luckiest Girl Alive, so I’ll be posting my thoughts soon!