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Book Review: The Alice Network

by | Apr 29, 2023 | Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

Rating: 5/5 stars
Age Rating: 13+

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn is a captivating read that pays tribute to the incredible resilience of women and the indomitable human spirit. 

This book kept me hooked until I finished the book at 3 am because I just had to know what would happen next. Through Quinn’s incredible storytelling, I was pulled into the world of espionage, felt the pain of loss, and discovered the hope that remains even in the most challenging situations. With its engaging plot and richly developed characters, The Alice Network explores themes of friendship, loyalty, and female empowerment while shedding light on the far-reaching consequences of war.

So, what’s this book all about? Let’s dive in and get to know Charlie, a headstrong American college girl from 1947, and Eve, a fierce spy during the Great War.

Photo of The Alice Network in front of a map

The Alice Network Summary

The Alice Network is a gripping historical fiction novel that weaves together the journey of two courageous women from different eras, crafting a riveting narrative of redemption and bravery. The book switches between Eve’s story from 1915-1919 and Charlie’s story in 1947, which keeps things exciting and readers on the edge of their seats as the two storylines gradually merge for an exhilarating finale.

In 1947, Charlie St. Clair, a nonconformist American college girl, faces disapproval from her conservative family because of her pregnancy. Determined to find her beloved cousin Rose who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, Charlie defies her family’s expectations and sets off for London. 

In 1915, during the Great War, Eve Gardiner eagerly wanted to join the fight against the Germans. Her opportunity arises when she’s recruited to work as a spy in the real-life Alice Network in France, led by the charismatic Lili, the “Queen of Spies.” Fast forward thirty years, and the once formidable Eve, haunted by the betrayal that destroyed the Alice Network, has become a confrontational alcoholic, living in her decaying London home.

When Charlie arrives at Eve’s doorstep and utters a name she hasn’t heard in decades, the two women go on a quest to uncover the truth, no matter where it leads them. Throughout their journey, both Charlie and Eve experience personal growth. Charlie’s mathematical talent and determination combine with Eve’s grit and resilience, creating an unlikely yet powerful alliance.

Expertly weaving together the stories of these two remarkable women, Quinn highlights the lesser-known history of female spies during WWI, bringing attention to the heroic actions and sacrifices made by the real-life Alice Network members. The Alice Network is a beautiful work of historical fiction that delves into the complexities of war and its aftermath. It features well-developed characters and a plot that keeps readers engaged from beginning to end.

Historical Background

The Alice Network is deeply rooted in history, showcasing the thorough research done by author Kate Quinn. The book features real-life historical figures and organizations, like the Alice Network, a group of female spies who worked in occupied France during World War I. The novel also explores the aftermath of World War II, touching on events like the Nuremberg trials and the mysterious world of Nazi collaborators.

The actual Alice Network was a spy group in France during World War I, led by the fearless and determined Louise de Bettignies. This network gathered intelligence for the Allies and helped smuggle soldiers and civilians out of occupied areas. The women of the Alice Network risked their lives every day in the fight for freedom and justice.

The novel also explores the complex world of Nazi collaborators, who worked with the enemy during the war and often escaped punishment afterward. Quinn’s portrayal of these characters is nuanced and multifaceted, emphasizing the moral complexity of their actions and the devastating impact they had on the lives of others.

Final Thoughts

I loved how The Alice Network focused on female empowerment. The book highlights the strength and bravery of women, especially when facing challenging situations. The Alice Network itself stands for female unity, as these fearless and clever women risked their lives to fight against the Germans in World War I. Charlie, the main character, breaks the rules of what society expects from her as she searches for the truth. This book truly captures what it means to be determined and the power of women.

While The Alice Network undoubtedly captivates with its celebration of female tenacity, it also weaves a tapestry of blossoming friendships and unwavering loyalty. The women in the Alice Network embody loyalty and courage, inspiring us to stand up for our beliefs and support those who fight for what’s right. The Alice Network serves as a powerful reminder that even in the darkest times, hope always prevails, and this message resonated with us on a personal level.

If you found this review helpful, you can check out the book at Bookshop.org here and support local bookstores along the way!