Monday, March 30, 2020

Book Review: "The Alice Network" by Kate Quinn

"Why did it matter if something scared you, when it simply had to be done anyway?"

Bravery can come from the least likely of sources. And in Kate Quinn's The Alice Network, she weaves together a story of some brave but unknown women from history with some fictitious ones.

In 1947, Charlotte “Charlie” St. Clair has been dragged to Europe by her mother. Charlie is 19, pregnant, and unmarried, and the plan is to go to Switzerland to have her “little problem” taken care of. But Charlie is less interested in dealing with her own issues and would rather try to find her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared during WWII.

Charlie escapes her mother’s clutches and flees to London to try and find a woman who supposedly can help her. When she meets Eve Gardiner, the woman is drunk, angry, and pointing a gun at Charlie, and refuses to help her. But when Charlie utters one man’s name, and the French city where Rose had supposedly gone during the war, Eve reluctantly agrees to help.

It turns out that Eve isn’t just a drunk older woman—during WWI she was a spy, part of the Alice Network, a group of women trained to ferret out information from the most dangerous of sources. Stationed in France, Eve was excellent at her job, until something goes awry, and a betrayal tears down the whole network. She bears the physical and emotional scars all these years later.

This is a great historical fiction book, alternating between Eve’s time in France in 1915 and Charlie’s 1947 efforts to find Rose. It’s intense, suspenseful, and emotional, and although it was a tiny bit too long, I really devoured it. I've heard Quinn's other book, The Huntress, is good as well.

It's funny: I often say that historical fiction isn't my thing because I'd much rather read contemporary stories than anything else. But strangely enough, all of the historical fiction I've read lately (without really considering it "historical") has been pretty great. So now I'm just a big contradiction, lol.

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