Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Review: The Alice Network

The Alice Network
By Kate Quinn
Published: June 6, 2017

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.

My review:

The story starts with Charlotte "Charlie" St. Clair who is traveling abroad with her mother and briefly stopping over in England before finishing their trip to Switzerland. Charlie is pregnant and their destination is a clinic where the "little problem" can be taken care of. But Charlie also hopes to discover what happened to her cousin Rose who disappeared during WWII and the key to her quest is Eve Gardiner. She escapes her mother's clutches and finds Eve with the hope that she will lead Charlie to Rose. 
Eve is a fascinating character. During WWI, she became a spy in France and the parts of the story that share her experience during that time are the most compelling. She worked undercover at a restaurant where prominent Nazis dined and her employer was a dangerous collaborator. Eve went through some horrible experiences and the war definitely changed her. In 1947 when Charlie finds her, she is now a drunk suffering from PTSD and guilt. 
Charlie is a privileged young woman but she has her own share of grief both from her missing cousin and her brother who died tragically during the war.  I found it difficult to like Charlie at times though especially with her hallucinations of Rose (and imaginary conversations with her) as well as imaginary conversations with the "Little Problem". I did feel sorry for her because of what happened with her brother and the way her family is treating her though. I just liked Eve a lot more. 
The Alice Network was a real spy ring of women during WWI. I found that part to be really interesting. While Eve is a fictional character, "Lili" was a real historical figure and war hero, Louise de Bettignies. I liked how the author brought this little known aspect of WWI history to life. The novel becomes a page turner, especially the 1915 sections and even the 1947 part has some suspense as the past and "present" collide. Overall I really enjoyed this historical novel. I initially listened to the audio book and I thought the narration was pretty good but I had to switch to the print version because it was too suspenseful to listen to in the car on the way to work and I couldn't wait to find out what happened! I suggest this book to fans of historical fiction like The Nightingale, The Girl You Left Behind, The Orphan's Tale and the Maggie Hope mysteries by Susan Elia MacNeal. Although not quite as good as The Nightingale, it is definitely well worth reading.


  1. I saw this title during one of publisher's webinar and immediately added to the list. I haven't read too many WWI novels so that pulled me in right away. The Nightingale was a big hit at my library so I will definitely consider ordering this one for the library. Great review!

  2. I like the setting so much and women proved to be as tough and courageous as anyone else. On my wishlist. Thanks for the review.

  3. I am so glad you reviewed this one. I saw that Reese Witherspoon picked this book as her latest selection for her book club, so I was immediately intrigued. I'm glad you enjoyed it and I will definitely be getting it from the library. Thanks for the great review!


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