Book Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The Alice Network imageBook Review by Dee Raffo

It’s 1947, and the chaotic aftermath of World War II reverberates across the globe as we join protagonist Charlie St. Claire, who is unmarried, pregnant, and on the hunt for her missing cousin, Rose. Her life intersects with that of Eve Gardiner, a decorated spy during World War I who is now alone, broken, and on her own hunt – for revenge.

Author Kate Quinn highlights the unsung valour and double standards faced by women during, and after, not one, but two World Wars. Known for her Roman-based historical novels, Quinn’s eye for detail switches the reader from 1915 to 1947 flawlessly. Both Charlie and the reader are drip-fed stories from Eve’s past, where she was part of an all-female spy ring, called the Alice Network, operating in Nazi-occupied France.

It seems that Eve and Charlie would make for unlikely travel companions, but they both share a determination and level of grit that hold them together. Both women are haunted by a sense of betrayal, Evelyn for her part in breaking up the Alice Network and Charlie for not helping her brother who committed suicide at the end of the war. They are both looking for redemption, while battling with problems of their time and gender. For Evelyn this is the condemning choices she has to make as a female spy, and for Charlie it’s the stigmatism of being an unwed mother-to-be on the road with a gun wielding, often drunk, ex-spy.

Quinn has crafted two characters, that might not be likeable at all times, who carry an incredible story that makes this book a page-turning delight for anyone who likes their historical fiction with a touch of espionage.

 Kate Quinn will be reading at the Historical Fiction event June 29, 7pm at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, with authors Janie Chang, Roberta Rich and Jennifer Robson.Tickets are available here.

Dee Raffo is a freelance writer working and living in Whistler, B.C. Her travel stories can be found in The Vancouver Sun, her short stories in Room Magazine, and this summer she’s working on a short film project and TV series script.