The Alice Network - Kate Quinn

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

 

In an enthralling new historical novel from 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.

 

 

I have probably mentioned this before, but I love WWI and WWII books that focus primarily on women's experiences during the war. I also have a weakness for dual timeline books. The Alice Network really worked for me. 

 

I will say that the 1947 timeline wasn't nearly as compelling as the 1915 timeline - Eve's experiences in occupied France gathering intelligence were gritty, realistic and heart-stoppingly dangerous. The 1947 timeline often felt like an annoying diversion that ground the true narrative to a halt.

 

Charlotte, or Charlie, the POV character in the 1947 timeline didn't 100% read like a young woman from 1947. She used expressions that felt modern, and, more importantly, I'm not sure that Quinn completely sold her behavior given the societal mores of 1947. But, I did enjoy the Thelma and Louise-esque adventures of Charlie, Eve and Finn, Eve's driver/Charlies taciturn Scottish love interest.

 

As is typically the case in this type of novel, the two timelines eventually merge to answer many of the questions that have been left unanswered for decades. It is a bit overly reliant on coincidence and the seeming ubiquitous invulnerability of one of the primary villains, but overall, I devoured this book and was sorry to see it end!