Saturday, 30 June 2018

The Alice Network

Finished June 22
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

This novel begins in 1947, but has flashbacks to 1915 and the years following that during WWI. 19-year-old Charlie St. Clair is enroute to Switzerland with her mother, to take care of her "problem." But Charlie doesn't view it in the same way as her parents do, and she is more driven to follow the one lead she has to find out what became of her cousin Rose during WWII. As she escapes from her mother's watch and goes to find a woman at a house in London, she is taking a big change. When she meets the woman, Eve Gardiner, and finds her resistant to her pleas, she isn't sure what to do next.
The next morning brings new possibilities, and Eve is more amenable to following Rose's trail in France, and the two set off with Eve's driver and minder, Finn, a young ex-serviceman with his own issues. A name that is Charlie's only clue to Rose's story has brought back a memory of her WWI experience to Eve, one that changed her live irrevokably. Eve was trained in England, and sent to France as a spy, under the network of Lili, aka Alice, as part of a wide network of female spies. She was tasked with working in a restaurant that the German officers frequented, and thus became an excellent source of information, but also was drawn into a relationship that she wanted no part of.
The novel tells Charlie's story and Eve's story in alternating chapters, and we gradually see Charlie grow in confidence, and Eve come out of the self-inflicted seclusion she put herself in.
As the trio follow the trail of the man responsible for so much destruction in 1947, Eve is also led back to her past to deal with her guilt.
The story is inspired by the real WWI female spy network of Louise de Bettignes, and the character Alice is based on Louise. I love how so many historical novels that I've read lately bring to light real women's stories that have never been covered in our history books.

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