Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Review ~ The Alice Network ~ Kate Quinn #TakeControl

The Alice NetworkThe Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction

Source: Purchased in paperback
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #TakeControl

In an enthralling new historical novel from the 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.

Masterfully written, impeccably researched with characters who leap from the pages and setting so well conveyed I could fairly smell the sea, the countryside, the hyacinths, The Alice Network was engaging, entertaining, and enlightening. I'm eager to devour all KQuinn's novels.

Seriously, y'all. This books is so good! I've been telling Hubs about it - my kids too! - and he finally said:
H: Stop telling me about it or I'm not going to need to read it. 
Me: But you HAVE to read it! It's sooo good!!
The story is told in two timelines - one during WWI and from Eve's POV and the other in 1947, just after the end of WWII and from Charlie's POV. KQuinn did an phenomenal job of tying these two women's stories together and in such a compelling way. I don't really want to say much about the plot because I think reading it as it unfolds is so much more affecting. But here are some highlights from my perspective:

  • History
    The historical detail - from both wars - illustrates KQuinn's skill and attention to detail. From the elements of a network made up of female spies to the feelings of those affected by the wars and the disasterous landscape left in the wake of the wars, KQuinn placed me in war-torn France and England during both eras. I must also make special mention of how well she conveyed the feelings of utter helplessness and frustration felt by both heroines at not having control over the lives by simple virtue of being female. I know we've come a long way and still have a long way to go but living during either of these time periods would have been stifling.
  • Intrigue/Suspense
    KQuinn kept me turning the pages swiftly with the need to know...was she found out? did she find the person she was looking for? how did she end up in her current predicament? is her bravery/courage rewarded? does she find redemption? And all these questions apply to both heroines!
  • Character Development
    I'm a huge fan of unconventional heroines and both Eve and Charlies qualify. They each dug deep and found the courage to go for what they wanted/needed in life. But there's also a few more characters in the novel - Alice and Finn, specifically - who fit the bill. KQuinn did spectacularly in creating these characters and bringing them to life so vividly. The way she brought Eve and Charlie together - two women who needed each other to prove their worth to themselves, to find the redemption they were each looking for, and to figure out a way to move forward in their lives - was creative and well executed. And Alice and Finn were incredibly defined as well, adding to the depth of the story overall.

The Alice Network has everything that makes for good historical fiction. And I can guarantee you'll see more of KQuinn here as I read her backlist.

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