Earlier this year, I read Kate Quinn’s The Rose Code. It remains one of my favorite books of 2021. I finally decided to pick up another one of Quinn’s books – The Alice Network. I hope to slowly make my way through her backlist. I love that Quinn writes historical fiction based upon real women overlooked by history.
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.
The Alice Network is a historical fiction novel told through two female protagonists in alternating timelines – 1915 and 1947. The story centers around a WWI spy network in France and the aftermath of WWII.
I enjoy that Kate Quinn writes historical fiction that is laced with mystery and suspense and also based upon real life women, typically overlooked in history. The Alice Network was no exception. Both storylines incorporated true-to-history events or people of which I was previously unaware.
I know a lot of people are tired of reading WWI and particularly WWII historical fiction. I found The Alice Network to be unique enough from other stories in the same period not to grow weary during reading. In addition, I enjoyed the characters throughout the book and thought they were well-developed and compelling. I was invested in all of their lives and their endings.
For me, The Alice Network did not 100 percent work. There was some magic missing. I chalk a lot of this up to having two somewhat disparate narratives. One storyline was definitely stronger and more interesting for the majority of the book. The other storyline felt somewhat weak in comparison. This contributed to the book feeling slow at times and a bit too long. Eventually the second narrative picked up in place and compellingness, but it failed to stand as an equal to the other narrative.
Overall, I enjoyed The Alice Network but was slightly disappointed. I expected this book to be as amazing as Kate Quinn’s latest, The Rose Code, and found it did not live up to this expectation. Regardless, The Alice Network is still a solid historical fiction read that I recommend.
The Alice Network
June 21, 2017