The Alice Network
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In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.
1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.
1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose.
Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth...no matter where it leads.
“Both funny and heartbreaking, this epic journey of two courageous women is an unforgettable tale of little-known wartime glory and sacrifice. Quinn knocks it out of the park with this spectacular book!”—Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America's First Daughter
Kate Quinn’s skills in making the transitions from factual inclusions told in a fictional character’
A dual-perspective story blends two tales: the first of Charlie who, in 1947 is pregnant, unmarried, and while in Europe to remedy that situation at her parents’ behest, decides to discover just what happened to a beloved cousin who disappeared in Nazi-Occupied France and the tale of Eve, joining the fight against the Germans as a trained operative in a female-heavy spy network, The Alice Network, until treachery brought its downfall.
Fascinating reading as Quinn gives us Charlie’s story: the death of her brother brought the whole family low: and reignited her questions about her cousin Rose and just how (or why) she disappeared in German-occupied France during the second world war. Deciding to find answers to her questions despite her parents’ plans for her trek to Europe unlocks a series of twists, turns and strange parallels between the young student and the now middle-aged former spy Eve.
A series of betrayals and surprises brought the unlikely Eve to the place she is now. Nearly a recluse, bitter and disillusioned, she also has questions about the end of the Alice network, and perhaps some of those answers and her own experience will help Charlie solve the mystery of Rose’s disappearance. With her only regular human contact being her ‘man of all things’ Finn, the three set out to find answers and uncover secrets long buried.
Charlie’s story is told in first person, Eve’s in third: the strange correlations that keep popping up between the two in terms of life experience and losses. With one of Charlie’s only clues being a man named René and a restaurant become the impetus for Eve’s teaming up with Charlie to find answers. Oh the twists, turns and bits of information and history dropped throughout this book are wonderful: some heartbreaking, others using humor, all highlighted by the sense of purpose and determination displayed by Eve, her compatriots and others working to resist the threats. Spy stories are obsession worthy – they usually have everything: drama, intrigue, danger and enemies: hard to resist that combination. But Quinn did one more thing here: she brought us characters that are flawed yet wholly human, determined to finally get answers, some long overdue: while billed as a search for Charlie’s cousin, what emerges even more strongly is the rediscovered courage, pride and purpose for both Charlie and Eve as they unravel the knots to get to answers, settle questions and tell stories of courage, danger and betrayals of the past.
Perfect for readers who want a perspective from history that is not well-known, Kate Quinn’s skills in making the transitions from factual inclusions told in a fictional character’s voice are unparalleled: each informing the other as the tension, emotion and information are revealed.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
In the era of the introduction of many WWll stories, this one stands at the top of the list. The author deftly interweaves facts and historical tidbits together with her story to make it virtually a history novel. A book you won't want to put down and will rue the day you finish it. Enjoy!
Les Fleurs du Mal
I loved the mixing of fictional and historical characters in this book, and the evolution of Charlie St Clair from confused spoiled little rich girl to emotional maturity through her harrowing experiences chasing evil and horror across Europe.