People ask me all of the time how I find the books that I read. Mostly I don’t have the faintest idea. I get daily book offerings from Book Bub and Goodreads. I might click on a book on Amazon and it will give me other suggestions. Somehow or another (very likely Pinterest), I came across an informal online book club hosted by actor Reese Witherspoon, and the book being recommended was The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.
Never heard of the book. Never heard of the author. And it was another novel that dealt with (primarily) World War I and informally with World War II. Ugh. Did I want to read another World War novel? I decided I would give it a try. I’m so very glad I did.
The Alice Network is based on a true story of a French women who headed up an organization of women spies during World War I. Her pseudonym was Alice Dubois; hence, the Alice Network.
The story intertwines the lives of two separate women – Charlie St. Clair, a young American socialite who has disgraced her family by becoming pregnant without benefit of marriage in 1947, and Eve Gardner, a young woman who suffers from stuttering who becomes involved in the Alice Network in 1915.
Charlie’s brother commited suicide shortly after returning from World War II, and Charlie handles her grief by deciding to seek out her beloved cousin who lived in France and is presumed dead. So when Charlie’s mother takes her to Europe to “take care of her little problem,” Charlie sneaks off and begins her search. In the course of events, she meets Eve Gardner and they find a connection so strong that Eve agrees to help her search for her cousin.
Throughout the course of the book, Eve tells her exceptional and often sad story to Charlie: she served as a spy during World War I, part of the Alice Network. Eve’s mangled fingers are a result of her work in the network.
Part spy story, part action novel, part feminist literature, the story and the writing are exceptional. I chuckled as often as I cried. The characters are well-drawn, and though Eve does her best to push people away, she was one of my favorite characters from all of the books I’ve read this year.
Two strong thumbs up for this exceptional novel.