"It's 1947 and 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 fervent belief that her beloved French cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive somewhere. So when Charlie's family banishes her to Europe to have her "little problem" take care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister. In 1915, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance to serve when she's recruited to work as a spy for the English. Sent into enemy-occupied France during The Great War, 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 launching them both on a mission to find the truth ...no matter where it leads"--
I suppose that if I hadn't already read a bunch of historical fiction from this time period, I might have found this more interesting, but I didn't think there was anything terribly interesting here.
Slightly spoilery content warning: [spoiler]
In the older woman's backstory, there are extensive descriptions of her sexual relationship with a collaborator she is spying on. The relationship is consensual, in that she is in the relationship of her own choice, but only because she is spying on him: she finds him disgusting, and he is cruel and manipulative. If you find yourself bothered by creepy sexual relationships, you should avoid this book.
I enjoyed the characters in this, became engrossed in their stories, such good characterizations; from the naive Charley, who shows tremendous growth during the course of this novel, to the irracible and hard drinking Eve, on to the delicious Finn, the Scottsman with a delicious bu'ur, well all I can say about him is be still my heart. Eve's story takes us back to the first world war, when she was part of the Network and her horrific experiences at the hand of a profiteer. Charley's story takes place in 1947, when she is looking for her cousin Rose who went missing in France. Fantastic, though tense filled stories, what these women risked with so little reward nor recognition.
The authors afterward clearly defines what who and what events were actual people or happenings. I think you will be surprised at just how much of this was based on fact. I was and so much of which I had never heard. The ending was a bit over the top, but if ever a book deserved a somewhat schmaltzy ending, it is this one.
However, despite an interesting storyline, I found that the book dragged at times, especially when I was following Charlie's story. Overall, an okay historical novel, but not one of the better ones I've read.
A beautiful and well researched book showing the legacies of women in past wars.The story felt very real and was actually taken from the history of the real Alice Network and some of its women. Unfortunately,the massacre at Oradour-Sur-Glane is only too real.The entire population of the town's men,women and children were killed by the Germans on June 4,1944. The village remains as an empty memorial to their lives.
I like my novels cozy and clean. I have a low tolerance for profanity (sprinkled saltily throughout) and sexual content (more than I cared to encounter); however, the plot tension was woven so tightly and so well, if you read with one eye shut and persevere, this is a nearly unputdownable read.
I've read a lot of books dealing with WWI and WWII but not really a telling in such depths as this book is in dealing with the spies and spy networks.
The sacrifices these men and in this book the women who put their lives on the line everyday to outwit the enemy. Really scary stuff.
I felt the tension,the fear,the tears and the exhilaration with the passing on of vital information. This book ties the story of Eve and Charlie and pulls you right into the story as well. Or it did for me.
Great writing and a terrific book.
This is a well-told story of the effects of two world wars. The story easily alternates between 1915 and 1947. It is also a fascinating look at the unglamourous side of women's roles in intelligence gathering. There are, however, some graphic sexual and violent scenes which may bother some readers.
A tale of two decades and two wars entwined make up this lengthy novel.
World War 1 and many sides of that conflict are virtually unknown to most of us boomers,Gen Xers,millennials, and even the greatest generation.
So it is true that I had no idea that there was a spy network of mostly woman that operated during WW 1.
This is the tale if one such spy from that 1914-1918 conflict who was a lady spy. Part of an all female network.
The other tale in the book that unites two war stories is that of infant terrible, 19 year old unwed mom, former college girl Charlotte St. Clair in 1947.
She grew up sharing summers with her French cousin, Rose. Rose disappeared off the radar during the latter years of the Second World War.
Charlotte thinks she may be alive and goes on a search for Rose Her sketchy research brings up the name of Eve Gardiner who happens to have been in a spy network of lady spies. This Eve has a driver, handy man, hunky Finn Kilgore.
One man from Eve's past was a traitor who profited during both wars and is connected to Charlotte's cousin Rose. The horrible Rene.
Lots of "daring do" as these 2 characters unite to find the bad guy, Rene catalyst in all this.
While this was well written I think a bit more editing could have been done to wrap up the whole story. As with so many works of fiction I grew weary and could not wait for the ending.
I am a real fan if World War Two fiction and non fiction. So before I read the real life historical facts in the back of the book I wondered why the Eve character was not utilized during WW 2 given her language skills and obvious knowledge of spy skills. It seems to me that she would have been very much an asset behind the scenes at the SOE. It could have temporarily gotten her away from her self destructive tendencies. The entire time I was reading the book I was surprised this was not where the book headed. This was a free,Early Reviewer book for me!
Quinn's novel is an exciting mystery about the disappearance of a girl named Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France. After the war, her cousin Charlie St. Clair, an American with a few problems of her own, goes to Europe and decides to search for her beloved cousin. This book is exciting, with characters you grow to love as if they were your own beloved cousins. A wonderful read and highly recommended.
World War II spy thrillers are almost a dime a dozen nowadays. Everywhere you look, someone has their own take or spin on the familiar tales, especially when you talk about spy thrillers in Nazi France. Yet, WWI is a whole new world when it comes to espionage stories. Then Quinn explores one of the most successful spy rings from that era, ran by women no less, and you've got a suspenseful narrative to hold you on your seat’s edge.
Quinn applies her skill at world building to this era just as well as her previous historical escapades. The harsh reality of German occupied north east France during the First World War comes to stark life as she portrays a population who will do anything to survive, snakes who profit from such an environment, and a German occupation force who revel in their control. The odds these women faced, fighting for their country in their own way, were truly staggering. On top of the already inherent dangers, these women also faced draconian prejudice and views on their role in war and their reputations. The bravery shown by these gals in the face of all that truly inspires. Sad to say, not every member of this ring had a happy ending, either, so the odds got some folks.
On top of utilizing some excellent historical details and scene settings skills, Quinn continues to create excellent, realistic characters through which to tell her story. Every single one stands out as a real individual, even the secondary background folks. It's our leads, though, that really shine. Each is damaged by war in their own way, all experiencing grief and some elements of PTSD. From the severe case of Evelyn who faced the true horrors of war and mankind's evilest behavior to Charlie's obsessive grief over her cousin's disappearance, each tale takes the audience on an emotional journey unlike any other. Not many authors can achieve as much success with their characterizations as they do with their world building, but Quinn is one of them. Truly a master!
Then on top of everything, Quinn weaves an intricate plot line that ties everything together in a truly suspenseful climax. Hidden connections as both world wars unfold surprised me left and right. I loved how the author tied in her character’s emotional journey with the story as well. Healing from past trauma and facing your demons played a huge part in the story overall. As our characters traverse over France looking for their missing pasts, the reader can't help but be transported in this journey of growth and overcoming the odds.
One can never fail when reading a Kate Quinn book. She has it all: great characters, a spellbinding story, and a setting and world you can sink into. Not once was I bored and looking for the motivation to continue on this epic story. I can't recommend this book highly enough; safe to say that if Kate Quinn wrote it, it's got to be good!!
Note: Book received for free via LibraryThing giveaway in exchange for an honest review.
I was so into this book. These women were phenomenal in how and what they did. And, the author did a great job depicting every scene. I really felt like I was there. My hands would sweat right along with the characters, hoping upon hope that they did not get caught.
The characters - Eve cracked me up. She did not take any crap from anyone while on the road with Charlie and Finn. She was on a mission and she was going to make it happen. A crusty character who can really talk anyone into doing anything.
I know this is a good book. Over Memorial Day weekend I had several people ask me what good book I've read lately and . . . this one took the prize. It is a story that has and will remained with me and the fact that it is based on a true story only makes it that much better!
Thanks to William Morrow and Edelweiss for their approvals so that I could read the e-galley and provide this honest, unbiased review.
The story alternates between two time periods - 1947 when Charlie first arrives on Eve's doorstep looking for her cousin and 1915 during WWI with Eve's backstory. The two main female characters are so well written that the reader becomes totally interested in their stories. Often with a dual main character book, the reader likes one more than the other and skims through one character's chapter to get back to the character that they like. In this novel, both characters are equally likable and both of their stories makes the reader want to read every word about their journeys.
It's very apparent that the author has done extensive research in writing her novel and even though this is my first book by Kate Quinn, it will not be my last. One other important side note is that the Alice network is based on a real group of female spies during WWI. It is estimated to have saved the lives of more than a thousand British soldiers during the 9 months of full operation from January to September 1915. Even though we aren't half way through the year, I know that the Alice Network will be one of my top books for 2017.
Thanks to TLC book tour and the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
Charlotte St. Clair is in disgrace. A math major at Bennington, she has disappointed her wealthy family by coming home pregnant and unwed. To forestall gossip, Charlie and her mother sail to England on their way to Switzerland to take care of Charlie's "Little Problem." But Charlie wants to use this trip to find her French cousin Rose, who hasn't been heard from since 1944, three years ago now. Charlie has made some initial inquiries and so once in England, she slips away from her mother to follow the one lead she has, landing on Eve Gardiner's doorstep in London. Eve has no intention of helping the little Yank on her doorstep until Charlie utters a name that Eve hasn't heard since the end of World War I. Eve is a broken woman. Her hands are destroyed and she spends her nights completely pickled. She's brusque and angry and imperious. But if the man whose name Charlie invokes lived past WWI, Eve is willing to use Charlie's quest for her cousin for her own reasons. The two women, plus Eve's taciturn Scottish driver Finn, head to the Continent, in search of the past.
Alternating chapters tell the story of both Charlie and Eve and what drives them in their search. Charlie lost her soldier brother to suicide and blames herself for not being able to save him. She is determined not to fail again and to find and save Rose. She is frozen emotionally and it is only in her determination on this journey that she allows herself to feel anything. Eve is carefully guarding her own wartime wounds. Unlike Charlie though, Eve's war was the First World War, when young and innocent, Eve became Marguerite Le Francois, a valuable member of the Alice Network, a female spy ring in France reporting from German occupied Lille. Eve, as Marguerite, one of the fleurs du mal, gets a job as a waitress in Le Lethe, a restaurant run by a French profiteer and patronized by high ranking Germans. In serving the Germans, Eve hears valuable information she can pass on to Lili, the leader of the Alice Network. As Charlie, Eve, and Finn motor through France searching out Eve's contacts in order to track down Rose and Rene, Le Lethe's owner and the man connected to both Eve and Rose, Eve's story slowly comes out.
Both Charlie and Eve are damaged and they don't really want to have to rely on the other, or anyone really. Each carries enough guilt to break them but they are both also fighters. While Charlie's story is interesting and heartbreaking, it is Eve's story, the story of an Alice Network operative and what lengths she needed to go to to uncover information that is most engrossing. Because of the alternating time lines, the story is quite action filled and the revelations that occur on the journey are fascinating. The reader is as curious about Eve's life in occupied Lille and how her hands came to be so destroyed as Charlie is. The reader is also invested in finding Rose and seeing how Charlie and Finn's growing friendship develops. The drive to know the truth makes the pages turn fast indeed. Quinn has drawn both WWI France and post WWII France carefully and the historical details of life in both times is well done. The tension in both story lines is delicately balanced and heightens in concert as the novel progresses. Tying together both World War I and World War II makes this story that much more fascinating, as does the note in the back of the novel detailing true roots of Eve's story. Historical fiction fans will thoroughly enjoy this novel of spying, betrayal, love, and hope. That it brings to light the little remembered fact of the Alice Network, the danger women faced as they worked for their country, and their important contributions is wonderful indeed.
Beyond Mata Hari, I had no idea that there were real women who spied during World War I, who actually collected effective intelligence behind German lines. This book places a fictional young woman in a German-occupied city and in the position to learn German secrets, but at a cost that still haunts her thirty years later, when another young woman seeks her out to help track down a cousin missing after another world war and begins a journey which slowly unravels the past. This was a great book with a compelling story, good characters, and interesting history.