Monday, 8 January 2018

The Alice Network

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Published by William Morrow
July 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 matter where it leads.

I loved the real-life element of The Alice Network as the central characters are based around the network of female spies that did indeed help the war effort abroad during the first world war.  The book takes the view point of two very different characters - Eve, a seemingly battered older woman who it turns out was a spy in World War One, and Charlie, an American socialite looking for her missing cousin..For these two people's paths to cross seems unlikely but Charlie is given Eve's name as a last resort to help with finding the missing Rose.  The two, it turns out, need each other, and they journey across France in what is seemingly only in a hunt for Rose, but for Eve is also to close something that has plagued her daily life for many years.  

We live through the first world war as we see what Eve faces during her time as part of the amazing 'Alice Network', seeing what daily challenges she, and the other women around her, face and of the enormous strength and courage that they undertake to help their country.  I loved this part of the story the most, particularly as I have real passion for the women who worked undercover during both wars; of their grit and determination.  The second part of the story shows the destruction and change of Europe after the second world war and of how it affected so many.  Rose and Eve return to a France that has not recovered and this is a very visual novel in that respect.  

It is gritty and violent in parts but also full of passion and drama and I can see why it was chosen as one of the books for Reese Witherspoon's book group last year.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

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