The Code of Love

Andro Linklater, Author Doubleday Books $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-50115-6
""I feel that now I can let myself die,"" whispered a frail and elderly Pamela Kirrage Hill in the spring of 2000 upon seeing the British edition of this book. Six days later she did. A much younger Pamela Kirrage had been a fun-loving model when she met Donald Hill, an RAF officer, just months before he was sent to Hong Kong in WWII. They wouldn't see each other for more than six years. When the British surrendered Hong Kong to the Japanese, Donald was interned in a POW camp, where he scrupulously kept a diary using a complex mathematical code. The emotional trauma of Donald's prison years took a great toll on his and Pamela's marriage; they both turned to drink and eventually divorced--although their mutual passion endured and led to reconciliation. For years, Donald was unwilling to translate his diary, and later he was unable to remember the code. Several years after his death, Pamela brought the diary to Philip Aston, a mathematician who was able to break the code. For the first time, Pamela learned the full story of her husband's wartime experiences and, as she says, could finally see him again as the whole man he had been when they first fell in love. Linklater, a British author (Wild People: Travels with Borneo's Headhunters), describes well the complex world of codes and ciphers as well as Aston's compulsion to decipher Donald's code. Drawing on interviews with Pamela, her children, and other friends and relatives, he also recounts a tragic love story. Linklater's book will captivate readers hungry for a wartime story of love and intrigue. The text of the diary is included in the book, which is also accompanied by an audio CD of a BBC radio documentary made by Linklater. (Feb. 27)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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