Thursday 18 January 2018

Review - The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Publisher: William Morrow
Release date: 6 June 2017
Back cover blurb: 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 matter where it leads.

During WW1 the Alice Network was a network of highly intelligent, skilled and very brave female spies, risking their lives for the war effort. 

The role of the female code breakers at Bletchley Park during WW2 has been well celebrated and documented, but the work of the Alice Network seems scandalously unknown. 

Eve Gardiner is just Nineteen when she is plucked from her job as a file assistant and thrust into the world of espionage. Posted to German occupied France to filter information back to Blighty, Eve is nervous but excited to be doing something useful to help the war effort. 

Decades later in the aftermath of WW2, Charlotte (Charlie) St. Clair is being sent to Switzerland after finding herself in an unfortunate situation-pregnant and unmarried. 

She doesn’t care about that as much as her family seem to, and is only going to please them. 

Charlie would much rather be in France looking for her cousin Rose, lost after 1944 but Charlie is certain she is still alive. After arriving at Southampton with her Mother, Charlie gives her the slip and arrives at an address in London determined to find out all she can about Rose’s movement post 1944 and if she is still alive. 

The two women could not be more different, but as Charlie arrives on Eve Gardiners doorstep, Eve is propelled back into the past and discovers thoughts, feelings and memories that she has and drunk to forget. 

As they discover more about each other they realise they have a common link and both must visit some personal dark places to uncover the truth. 

Told in alternating time spans, the Alice Network is a marvel of a novel. Educational, funny and poignant.

The Alice Network is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who sent me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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