Monday, March 2, 2020

Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn


Title: The Alice Network
Author: Kate Quinn
Year Published: 2017


Genre: Adult fiction (historical fiction)
Pages: 560
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map)France, UK, Belgium, Germany

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of begin 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. Set to enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, code name Alice, the "queen of spies," who manages  avast 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. That is 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.


Review: A friend who is an English teacher recommended this novel to me and it was a great choice. As usual, I read the author's note at the back before I was very far into the novel, wondering if it was an accurate portrayal of real events, or just conjured up from the author's imagination. It's a bit of both. While Charlie is fiction, the Alice Network, Alice/Lili, and many of the events that happen to both Eve and Alice/Lili are true. It certainly feels that way as as the reader is pulled into the tension of World War II spies maneuvering about under the Germans' noses. 

But, there is more to the story than just the spy network of World War I and II. We also get a glimpse into the psyche of these women, a little romance, some family stuff, and best of all female friendships.

While Eve is a difficult character to like, and who wouldn't be if you'd been through what she had, the reader can empathize with her and support her in her actions. Charlie and Finn are more instantly likable and they round out the threesome well as we follow them across western Europe in their quest.

This book is well written, interesting, historical, and kept me turning the pages on a train ride from Santa Barbara to San Diego.

Challenges for which this counts: 
For the Pop Sugar challenge, this book passes the Bechdel test

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