My Rating: 5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
It’s hard to know where to begin with this book. I loved everything about it! The Alice Network has a great storyline, writing, and setting. What really stands out for me, though, are the characters. Every single character in this book is well-written. Kate Quinn created engaging, dynamic, and flushed out characters. It was easy to picture vividly each character, from the main trio to the minor ones encountered along the way. I also enjoyed the ways in which Quinn explored good and evil within the characters. Everyone made morally ambiguous choices at one point or another, emphasizing that very few people are ever truly good or truly bad. It was interesting to see how these choices affected the characters, the reader’s opinion, and the overall plot.
Our central trio, composed of Eve, Charlie, and Finn, is simply remarkable. Their interactions and dynamic were realistic, thoughtful, and honest. I still can’t decide if Eve or Charlie is my favorite character, but I will always hold a soft spot in my heart for Finn. I enjoyed seeing each of these characters progress throughout the novel and grow along the way. I love that Quinn focuses the novel on women’s contributions to the war effort. This easily lends itself to lots of interactions between women that centered on patriotism, survival, and morality. My only critique here is that this book focused solely on white women and men during the war. I’m racking my brain trying to think of a single character of color. This book is certainly not feminist in an intersectional capacity.
I thought the storyline of The Alice Network was phenomenal. I enjoyed the alternating chapters that followed two different timelines: Eve’s in 1915 and Charlie’s in 1947, or the present. This kept the story moving forward, particularly as the timelines often synced brilliantly to parallel emotion and action. Moments of suspense were built beautifully and the action sequences were perfectly tense, emotional, and heart stopping.
Overall, I loved this book! I really enjoy reading about the two world wars and particularly women’s experiences during the wars. I thought this was a fantastic and engaging read. It’s full of well-written characters, explores morality, and hits all sorts of emotional peaks. I would highly recommend this book, particularly to fans of The Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See.
By the way, this book comes highly recommended from Reese Witherspoon! If you haven’t yet, definitely check out her book club, Hello Sunshine, for other recommendations.
This book is…
full of memorable characters
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: historical fiction
Page Count: 520
Available here from Book Depository.
Have you read The Alice Network? What time periods do you like to read about?