Being very honest, this is the second time I’ve read this book for a book club. However, I loved it the second time as much as I did the first, so I wanted to review it for this blog (the first time I read it was before my blogging days).
The Alice Network tells the story of Evelyn “Eve” Gardner, an unassuming file clerk who grew up in an abusive home and developed an unfortunate stutter. Far from letting these potential drawbacks slow her down, though, instead she used them to hone and sharpen her willpower. Becoming skilled in hiding her intelligence, telling lies with no more than a bat of an eye, and learning languages like each was her own, Eve is destined to become a brilliant spy for the Allies during World War I. After being recruited and sent to work in a restaurant in German-occupied France, Eve meets the incomparable Alice, or Lili as she prefers to be known. The “Queen of Spies,” Alice/Lili has set up an intricate spy network made up entirely of women. Since this was a time period where women were considered inferior to men and often overlooked, Alice’s female spies have become the most successful source of information for the Allied forces. Now Eve must do her best to live up to the expectations of her new mentor, taking extraordinary risks that put her in life in jeopardy every day, but can mean the difference between life and death to so many soldiers in the field.
This book is simply wonderful. Telling Eve’s story before, during, and after WWI, Kate Quinn expertly weaves together two different Eves into one fantastic story; one a young and naïve Eve, the other a world-weary and hardened older Eve. Throw in a young, headstrong, pregnant American girl searching for her cousin and a smart-aleck Scottish rogue who will help them both find their places in the world after the war ends, you won’t be disappointed by this book.
Afternote: Classified as Historical Fiction, as soon as I finished this book for the second time, I had to run to my computer to look up Alice/Lili. Turns out this character was based on a real person! I won’t give too much away, but her story is the one that sticks with me after the book ends.