Kate Quinn’s, The Alice Network, hooked its claws into me from the outset. It embodies everything I look for in a story, unimaginable obstacles and courage, loss, heartache, self-actualization, love, and redemption.
1947 and American Charlotte St. Clair, Charlie, is pregnant and unmarried. Like all “good” girls from families of means, she’s swiftly shuttled out of town by her mother, in her case to Europe, on route to take care of her Little problem with a Little Procedure that will enable Charlie’s return home from Vacation, no one the wiser. There’s only one problem: Charlie.
Torn by guilt and shame, she centers her mind one thing that makes sense, that gives her hope, and distracts her from the impending Procedure: finding her cousin Rose who went missing in France two years earlier when war still raged across the continent. Charlie has a name, an address, and just enough dumb courage to compel her to abandon her mother in a hotel lobby and vanish into London in search of answers. What she finds is a drunken hag with a loaded pistol and enough secrets—and regrets—to kill them both.
The story traverses two timelines, 1947 and 1915.
The later period is Charlie’s story; the earlier time belongs to the youthful version of the drunken hag Charlie recruits to help her find Rose: Eve Gardiner.
Eve Gardiner is a WWI survivor and former spy tormented by nightmares. And guilt. Alcohol is her only friend. Until Charlie charges into her life with a name that alcohol can’t erase, and a plea that prompts Eve to, reluctantly, resurrect old skills and contacts, visit former haunts, and excavate bone-deep trauma–and a lust for revenge–that culminates in a deadly standoff, Charlie stuck in the middle, as Eve’s past collides with her–and Charlie’s–present.
Gut-wrenching, emotional, honest. I loved The Alice Network for what it was, a testament to female courage and spirit; resilience and strength in perilous—deadly—situations; in defiance of convention, condescension, and societal expectation. 5 stars.
Do not rely completely on any other human being, however dear. We meet all of life’s greatest tests alone. ~Agnes MacPhail