September 22, 2017

“Hope was such a painful thing, far more painful than rage.”

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Release Date:
 June 6, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins | William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: 503 pages
Source & Format: ARC; Publisher
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Summary (from Goodreads)
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.

Thoughts on The Alice Network
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn was on my radar because I knew how much Kelly from Belle of the Literati loved the author's Rome series. While I'll try those books someday, I was way more curious about this new release because I love these time periods. I requested it for review and was so excited when it arrived. Kelly read it first and immediately raved about it, so it didn't take me long to dive in. And I'm so happy that I can say this is one of the best books I've read this year and has become a new all-time favorite! 

Do you ever love a book so much that you just can't bring yourself to write about it? It doesn't happen to me that often, but it definitely did with this book. I finished it at the end of May, and I kept meaning to review it. It is, after all, one of the best books I've read in a long time. Who wouldn't want to push a new favorite on all their friends? Well, this is a recurring problem for me. If I really love a book, I can drag my feet when it comes to talking about it. It's so much easier to pinpoint what didn't work for me about a book than it is for me to explain all the reasons that I ADORED it. But I'll try anyway because The Alice Network MUST be on your radar...

This is the story of two women — a female spy in the real-life Alice Network in France during WWI and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947 — who are brought together in an unexpected way. In 1947, Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried and desperate to find her cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during WWII. Her search brings her into the path of Eve Gardiner, a former spy during WWI who now spends her days secluded and drinking to forget a betrayal from long ago. Eve is reluctant to help Charlie, but a single name leads them on an unforgettable search for the truth. 

Y'all, this book somehow managed to be funny, inspiring, heart wrenching, anxiety inducing and romantic. Do you have emotional whiplash from that sentence? Just wait until you read the book! I'm not usually a fan of dual timelines, but it was done perfectly. That's HUGE coming from me. Somehow, Quinn made me so invested in both stories. I never wished that one timeline didn't exist or took up less time. I loved both equally and felt both were absolutely necessary. The structure was crucial and added so much.

In addition to loving both stories, I was blown away by both heroines. They're such strong women - but in very different ways. They're both unconventional for their time, and it made me love them all the more. I loved the challenges they both overcame and how they helped each other find and face the truth. I was rooting for these women! I adored the setting and how the two time periods were distinct but complemented each other so nicely. The mystery that brings them together was compelling, tightly paced and so emotional. Quinn's writing was so lovely, too. The story came alive because of her skill with words!

Honestly, I loved absolutely everything about this book. Do you see why I have a hard time writing reviews for books that I love? I could keep praising it, but I think the gushing gets old after a while. If you're a fan of historical fiction, YOU MUST READ THE ALICE NETWORK. Sorry for the yelling, but I think it's necessary. Don't miss out on this story - it's one I haven't stopped thinking about and will be recommending repeatedly!

So Quotable
“We lingered inside our fragile bubble of happiness, the kind of happiness that sits on top of melancholy as easily as icing on a cake. I didn't want to leave it.”
* I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

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