I got the honor of picking the first book club book of the year for 2019! I was a bit nervous because I wanted to make sure that we got off to a good start. I also have been a bit disappointed in my past few picks so I really wanted to pick a good one this time around. I tend to gravitate towards World War II historical fiction in the winter and I had had The Alice Network on my TBR for a while, so it seemed like the perfect pick.
By: Kate Quinn
Published Year: 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): 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.
What I thought
I am so glad that this was my first read of the year. I absolutely loved it and am hoping that this is a foreshadow of my reading year to come!
The Alice Network alternates between two stories in two different times that intersect. In 1914, Eve is in France as a spy during World War 1. In 1947 (present day), Charlie is unwed and pregnant in London and France, searching for her cousin Rose who disappeared in World War II. Charlie’s only lead is Eve.
So often when a book has multiple storylines across multiple timelines there is one story that I connect with and enjoy significantly more than the other. That is most definitely not the case for this book. I loved both of the storylines and never found myself rushing through one to get back to the other. Quinn did a wonderful job of balancing the stories. The book moved constantly because when one story was a little slower the other story picked up. I also feel like a lot of the times with historical fiction it can take a little while to get into the story because it’s setting up a lot of information, but The Alice Network jumps you right in!
I am a fan of learning about how women made a difference in previous wars since so often it is the men/soldiers that are haled as heroes. Learning about the real life Alice Network and the female spies in World War I was fascinating. Eve and Eve’s superior, Lili are such strong women and I loved reading about them.
Charlie is a good contrast to Eve. She starts off a bit more shy and reserved to Eve’s hard and strong, but she grows nicely as the story goes on. The only bit that shocked me was the point in the story at which Charlie’s story reveals certain information. I hit a point in Charlie’s story where I wondered where it was going to go, but it was handled better than I expected and I still enjoyed Charlie’s story a lot.
I am going to push this book on anyone and everyone. Even if you don’t think you’re a historical fiction person, I think you would enjoy this book. It has a very modern feel to it and I enjoyed all (well…most) of the characters.
What Book Club Thought
Everyone loved this book! A lot of the comments were similar to the ones that I have already talked about. It was a great book to discuss and there were a lot of aspects that we talked about. We also discussed how we would like to see this as a mini-series on HBO or Amazon. Maybe, since it’s a part of Reese’s book club, she’ll pick it as her next project for a TV show! I would highly recommend this book in general but if you are looking for a book club suggestion then you should definitely add this to your list.