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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Alice Network

Title: The Alice Network
Author: Kate Quinn
Publisher: 22 May 2017 by Harper Collins Australia
Pages: 503 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, world war
My Rating: 5 crowns


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 Thoughts

“I don’t want to just be pretty when I grow up. I want to do something different. Write a book. Swim the Channel. Go on safari and shoot a lion ....”

I have been eager to sample a Kate Quinn novel and finally I  know why. Wow! Books like this are the reason why I love historical fiction so much. This is one compelling and powerful story that confronts you with war and the role of women in espionage roles based on actual people and events. Quinn effortlessly takes you from 1915 to 1947 as she recounts the story of one of the most successful spy rings called the Alice Network.

“She slipped her hand through Eve’s elbow. “Welcome to the Alice Network”.

Both stories are strongly told through riveting female leads and are shockingly confrontational in both honesty and vigour. The research is faultless as is the backdrop of the French countryside - whether you be in war torn Lille in 1915 or driving across the French countryside in 1947. Incredible female leads in both time periods, supported by an amazing cast of supporting characters. You will be shocked. You will be horrified. And your heart will break with all that unfolds. Given the strong factual base, Quinn is amazing in the life she brings to both fiction and non fictional characters. Seamlessly she takes you from events in 1915 as the suspense builds, to 1947 as you await to see just how this will all be played out. The way the chapters symmetrically reflect time and location is spellbinding.

“I wanted to say to the figure hunched in the backseat, I’m sorry - but words were just air, useless after a tale like that.”

I dare you not to be chained to your chair as your fate seems intrinsically linked to Charlie’s journey and growth in 1947 as she desperately searches for her cousin, to the slow revelations of Eve’s role in the Alice Network in 1915 - how the stories are linked is just too good to be true. Eve, so bitter and damaged, driven by revenge, is truly magnificent. An ‘Author’s Note’ clearly accounts for who and what occurred in real life and you will be truly surprised on just how much truth lay in this incredible tale. The story is fascinating and riveting as you learn of real life heroines who risked it all in a display of true strength and courage, Quinn going to great lengths to ensure their tale would not be forgotten.

“If I were a man you’d be calling me patriotic for wishing to continue in my duty to my country .... a woman wants the same thing and she’s suicidal”.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough and commend Quinn in her thorough and rich portrayal of the sacrifices and injustices that war delivered to these people that were, ‘The Alice Network’.

“War. Such a small, hopeless syllable to cover so much loss”.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release


Mystica said...

I just couldn't get to this one but I've not given up. Melbourne library will have for sure

Angela said...

I haven't read this book yet, but it's on my to-read list!