Monday, December 4, 2017

The Alice Network - Kate Quinn

Summary: 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.
 (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Review: I don’t know about you, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the awesome genre that historical fiction has become of late. I have enjoyed historical fiction for years, and I’ve read quite a bit of it, but I think the past couple of years have been exceptional. Some of my favorites have revolved around women in war, most notably World War II. There are a lot of historical fiction books out there right now about World War II. I’ve been trying to decide why this is, and I think there are several reasons. First, the generations alive today have had a living connection to someone in World War II. Whether this was a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or even great grandparent, we have had real life relationships with these people. We can’t believe what they’ve seen or experienced, and yet they are here to testify of it in a very real and personal manner. Second, I think the more we learn about the atrocities that happened during that war, the more aware we are that we cannot let this happen again. This is difficult, though, because whether it be in our country or in other countries around the world, it’s easy to see the mindset that led to atrocities in WWII sometimes rear its ugly head. Third, WWII is just really interesting. There are so many facets to it—the European front, the Pacific front, the home front in all of those countries; the aftermath, the millions killed…it just can’t be explored enough. I think our fascination with WWII is not limited to now. My grandpa who fought during WWII was always obsessed with it and when he died I inherited many of his books, model planes, war pictures, etc., that were a part of his life.

Some of the historical fiction (let alone the actual accounts) of WWII can be tough to read. There was so much suffering. Just. So. Much. It’s almost impossible to comprehend. Because of that, although I do love the genre, sometimes I have to take a little break from it. I have read several books in the past couple years about it, and I’ve read some other things, so I was ready to get back into it. When an opportunity arose to read The Alice Network, I took it and I am so glad I did.

This book is different from many like it in the genre in that it takes place in World War I and also time hops to just after the end of World War II. Although I have read quite a bit about WWII, I haven’t read nearly as much about WWI, and it was just a really different war. Technology changed so many things from WWI to WWII, so I was really fascinated by the differences there. Also, although some of my fave WWII historical fiction books are based on female spies or females who are doing unsuspecting things in the war, this book is also based on a female spy, and she was super cool. Even better? She was based on a real life female spy, Louise de Bettignies, “The Queen of Spies.” This woman is super cool and she was not on my radar before this. (How fitting for a spy, right?) I so enjoyed the richness of the character that came from her being based on actual historical documents, personal accounts, and accounts from those who were close to her. There were other really cool female characters as well. And let’s face it, a really well-written, strong, realistic, awesome female character is just really cool.

The other women in the time hop portion of this book were cool, too, and were also pioneers in their own way but for different reasons. Charlie St. Clair, the younger female protagonist, is pregnant and unmarried and is also treading a fine line of social propriety with her situation. This made for a rich discussion into two very different situations that were social challenges at their respective times.

The writing in this book was great. It was engaging, meaningful, and very accessible. This book was compulsively readable and I very much enjoyed it. If you are a lover of historical fiction, especially historical fiction during the World Wars that feature strong female characters, you should definitely check out this book.

My Rating: 5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: This book has some language and violent war scenes, as well as a few love scenes. I would say it is on par with others in this genre.

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