Cover Image: The Alice Network

The Alice Network

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Member Reviews

I loved this book it had all the magic and atmosphere of WWI Europe.  The story was enthralling the 'ladies' were amazing in both their courage and resourcefulness. A book that showcases the thousands of brace women that worked so hard during that dire time.
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A beautifully written piece that utterly transported me. Please see my full and official review on Narrative Muse, via the link below.
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*thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

3 stars.

I dropped it a star because I felt that the book was longer than it needed to be. But that is my only complaint. This was much better than id expected. I loved the two different narrator's from two different years and how their stories connect. I've read a few histotical/world war novels and this was refreshing different. I enjoyed reading both stories equally which usually doesnt happen but they were both so well written. This is my first book from this author but she is clearly one to look out for.
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Book 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, code name Alice, 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. That is 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.

My thoughts…
My thanks to HarperCollins Australia for the chance to read The Alice Network.  (Sorry about the delay in reading.)
What a spectacular story! I will be sharing my thoughts about this one far and wide and for a very long time. 
This is the kind of story that, once read, never really leaves you. 
A plot steeped in truth, woven with fiction, and told with passion, the characterisations are so strong I was on the page with them. Even after reading the author's comprehensive notes at the end I remain utterly and completely in awe of her storytelling and it made the novel even more intriguing.
This is an important story, highlighting the brave women of the Alice Network, and bringing a greater appreciation of those times of war when so many sacrifices were made. 
The Alice Network should be read by every high school student.
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Never have I read a book like this before.
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My Thoughts

“I don’t want to just be pretty when I grow up. I want to do something different. Write a book. Swim the Channel. Go on safari and shoot a lion ....”

I have been eager to sample a Kate Quinn novel and finally I  know why. Wow! Books like this are the reason why I love historical fiction so much. This is one compelling and powerful story that confronts you with war and the role of women in espionage roles based on actual people and events. Quinn effortlessly takes you from 1915 to 1947 as she recounts the story of one of the most successful spy rings called the Alice Network. 

“She slipped her hand through Eve’s elbow. “Welcome to the Alice Network”.

Both stories are strongly told through riveting female leads and are shockingly confrontational in both honesty and vigour. The research is faultless as is the backdrop of the French countryside - whether you be in war torn Lille in 1915 or driving across the French countryside in 1947. Incredible female leads in both time periods, supported by an amazing cast of supporting characters. You will be shocked. You will be horrified. And your heart will break with all that unfolds. Given the strong factual base, Quinn is amazing in the life she brings to both fiction and non fictional characters. Seamlessly she takes you from events in 1915 as the suspense builds, to 1947 as you await to see just how this will all be played out. The way the chapters symmetrically reflect time and location is spellbinding. 

“I wanted to say to the figure hunched in the backseat, I’m sorry - but words were just air, useless after a tale like that.”

I dare you not to be chained to your chair as your fate seems intrinsically linked to Charlie’s journey and growth in 1947 as she desperately searches for her cousin, to the slow revelations of Eve’s role in the Alice Network in 1915 - how the stories are linked is just too good to be true. Eve, so bitter and damaged, driven by revenge, is truly magnificent. An ‘Author’s Note’ clearly accounts for who and what occurred in real life and you will be truly surprised on just how much truth lay in this incredible tale. The story is fascinating and riveting as you learn of real life heroines who risked it all in a display of true strength and courage, Quinn going to great lengths to ensure their tale would not be forgotten. 

“If I were a man you’d be calling me patriotic for wishing to continue in my duty to my country .... a woman wants the same thing and she’s suicidal”.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough and commend Quinn in her thorough and rich portrayal of the sacrifices and injustices that war delivered to these people that were, ‘The Alice Network’. 
“War. Such a small, hopefully syllable to cover so much loss”. 

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release
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The Alice Network is a compelling story set across two timelines, the First World War and in the aftermath of the Second World War.  It is Eve Gardiner’s story that spans both timelines, the account of her activities as a spy and then later her connection with Charley..  She was part of the Alice network, a group of female spies in World War 1 France, based on a real life spy network of that era.  The second timeline features Charley St Clair who is searching post war Europe for her missing cousin Rose.  Eve is drawn into Charlie’s search which also involves Eve’s past.
This book is populated with memorable characters.  Charlie, perhaps would have been perceived to be quite outrageous in that day and age.  However, both Charlie and Eve needed to be exceptional characters to achieve what they did. Captain Cameron and Finn Kilgore are interesting and somewhat flawed characters.  The old Lagonda car even seems to take on its own personality
The writing has a dreamlike, hypnotic quality about it. There is a lot of trauma and tragedy, however the style of writing masks this and makes it a less harrowing and pleasant to read.  The way the author has written this book makes it easy in the present time to relate to this book.  I highly recommend the Alice Network.  Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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I absolutely adored the Alice Network.  Beautifully written and to see at the end that it was based on real people was an added bonus.
Loved it!
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Who doesn’t like a good suspenseful spy story, especially one that’s based on real historical figures? It was a no-brainer that I absolutely had to read The Alice Network after discovering it is centred around the true story of a spy network of women based in the German occupied town of Lille in France during WWI.

Quinn uses a dual timeline format to connect her two main characters. One, set in 1915, tells the story of Evelyn (“Eve”) Gardiner, a plucky young British girl who joins the war effort as a female spy to gather intelligence in German occupied France. There she becomes part of the famous Alice Network, led by the true historical figure of Louise de Bettignies, a well-known French secret agent during WWI (also known under her pseudonym Alice Dubois). The other, set in 1947, features young Charlotte St Clair (“Charlie”), a disgraced privileged American girl, who travels to France to track down her beloved cousin Rose who has been missing since the war. As the two women’s paths intersect, we get to find out more about Eve’s history as a secret agent, which has left her a broken woman, and witness Charlie’s coming of age as she sets out on her quest.

I absolutely loved Eve’s story and found the details about the Alice Network and its secret agents utterly fascinating, especially the author’s postscript detailing the true historical events the story is based on. How courageous were these women! And whilst Eve is a fictional character, she blended in well with her “real-life” companions – and who knows, there may have been a similar background to the “real” Marguerite Quinn used as inspiration for her character. Even the older Eve rang true for me, damaged and broken as she was from her wartime experiences. I could imagine that life after the war would not have been easy for those courageous women who managed to survive, but had seen and done unimaginable things for their country. Louise must have been one amazing lady, I ended up reading up on her on the web after finishing this book and would love to read a whole book devoted to her!

Whilst I admire the author for conjuring up a link between her two female protagonist that spans both World Wars, sadly Charlie’s story did not hold the same interest for me as Eve’s, and there were times when I struggled to keep my focus during Charlie’s chapters. Whilst Eve seemed to be able to step out of the pages as real as her historical counterparts, Charlie seemed a bit fake to me, her speech more befitting a 21st century teenager than a girl brought up in the 1940’s. Whilst I realise this is fiction, some of the little inaccuracies still niggled at me, and distracted from Eve’s chapters, and I found myself skipping a lot of Charlie’s story to get back to Eve’s. Unfortunately Charlie’s story was very loooong, and contained a somewhat clichéd romance on top of it all - ugh! A bit of editing may have done wonders here, as there were some fascinating parts that were worth exploring, such as the story of the massacre that wiped out an entire French village during WWII. I also enjoyed the premise of seeing Eve in her older age, trying to lay her demons to rest, and able to help young Charlie in her quest. My issues were just with the “fillers” in Charlie’s story, the parts that didn’t add much to the overall plot but dragged the book out and made me impatient to get back to Eve’s story.

All in all, The Alice Network was an captivating and original story centred around a real female spy network during WWI that held my interest and kept me eagerly turning the pages for more. Whilst Charlie’s chapters did not intrigue me nearly as much, other readers may enjoy her chapters (including the romance) a lot more than I did. If you are a history buff and love to read books set during either of the world wars, this one is definitely worth picking up for the historical detail it contains and the unique spin on a story that isn’t told nearly as often as it deserves to be.
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