“If you want to get ahead, get noticed,” is Orla Hanlon’s motto. New to London and the first female programmer at CouperDaye, a global investment bank, she takes on a high-profile but controversial project.
With her new luxury apartment and a work-romance quietly on the side, Orla thinks she has everything under control.
Until a bug in her code causes chaos on the trading floor and Orla finds herself a scapegoat in a corporate game, fighting to save her new life in London.
“Orla’s Code is well written, funny and charming. A great debut.”
– Joseph Bell, author of Beachdog
Orla’s Code was nominated for Big Al’s Books and Pals Readers’ Choice Award 2014 and awarded a place on the Awesome Indies list of quality independent fiction!
Having reviewed Fiona’s second book, Beverly, last month, I was looking forward to trying her first book, Orla’s Code. I enjoyed reading Beverly, so much so that I was a bit apprehensive as to whether I would take to the character of Orla as well as I did with Beverly. Fortunately for me, Fiona has a gift for writing likeable, practical and fallible female characters, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Orla is a female programmer in a highly pressurised position at a global investment bank. Becoming Senior, she is handed a project which will see her reach her full potential, making all the hard work worth it and allowing her natural passion for code to shine. However, when a bug is discovered in her big program , her entire future is jeopardised. Not only has she just signed off on a new home, Orla is now terrified that her reputation will be compromised.
As with Beverly, once again there is no major story line as such (although many programmers would completely disagree with me on this I suppose, as all bugs are major!) But, this gives Fiona ample opportunity to develop Orla as a character and the reader is able to experience a taste of what it is like as the only female programmer in the company. Having said that, Fiona does not use this book to play on the female sympathy vote, and Orla indeed holds her own. Thought she is clearly the only female programmer in the company, the bullying she experiences tends to come in the form of making her a scapegoat, a treatment also awarded to her male counterparts at the same time! This means that a few chapters into the book, you begin to see Orla as a programmer, pure and simple, and the issue of gender tends to take a back seat.
The coding speak is quite extensive in parts, and I did feel as though I was reading another language at times, but it doesn’t over power the story neither the concept behind Orla’s journey to prove her worth as a capable programmer.
The best part of Orla’s Code was witnessing the work politics, which at times were nothing to do with Orla personally, but rather a fly on the wall insight into an extremely pressurised industry. Having worked in the finance industry, I recognised many of the horrible qualities some of Orla and her colleagues peers possessed and it immediately made me grateful for now being a Freelancer! The stress of delivering to deadlines, management making scapegoats of the underdogs and the crass lengths others will go to climb over you certainly tells it like it really is in this world!! The issue of mergers also brought back many painful memories for me, especially when Orla and her already harassed colleagues are expected to take on the roles of others in the company, despite not having any training or experience – all for the sake of pleasing the hierarchy!
Orla’s Code is a wonderfully compelling story with a powering message at its core.
For my review on Fiona’s second book, Beverly, click here: https://bookwormmummy.com/2017/06/12/beverly-by-fiona-pearse-adult-fiction-book-review/
Fiona can be found on twitter at @FionaPearse and on her website at fionapearse.com. Orla’s Code is out now to buy.