Saturday, April 29, 2017

738 (2017 #36). The Alice Network

by Kate Quinn

This was a fascinating story, based on the real-life "Alice Network" of mostly-female spies centered in Lille, France, on the border with Belgium, during World War I.

This book has two story lines, one set during World War I and the other in 1947.  Eve Gardiner is the character that ties them together.  She begins 1915 as a 22-year-old file clerk England, recruited to spy in France during the war because she can also speak French and German - with a stammer in all languages that makes people overlook her and assume she is stupid.

The 1947 Eve is a broken woman with gnarled hands, contacted by pregnant 19-year-old American Charlotte "Charlie" St. Clair, who runs away from her French mother (while en route to Switzerland for an abortion).  Charlie is trying to find her French cousin Rose, last seen working in 1943 in a restaurant in Limoges, France, called Le Lethe, owned by a Monsieur Rene.

That hits close to home for Eve - whose cover while working as a spy involved working in a restaurant in Lille, also called Le Lethe, and also owned by a Monsieur Rene - the evil Rene Bordelon, a Frenchman collaborating with the Germans.

The tale goes back and forth in time and between narrators.  Along the way, the reader the real-life head of the Alice Network, Louise de Bettignies, aka Alice Dubois, aka "Lili" (among many code names) in this book.

Kate Quinn does a masterful job weaving this (and other) real-life character(s), places, and incidents into the story.  I had a hard time putting this exciting book down, but the short alternating chapters make it easy to take a break if needed.  I will definitely be reading more by this author.

© Amanda Pape - 2017

[I received this advance reader edition through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.  It will be passed on to someone else to enjoy.]

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