Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pub. Date: June 6th, 2017
Pages: 528

Genre: Historical Fiction / Dual Timelines


In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

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.

What Did I Think About the Story?

Full disclosure: I am a super fan of Kate Quinn. She is the gold standard when it comes to historical fiction and I've never been disappointed with anything she's written. I'm continuously amazed at how she makes me love her witty and emotive characters and how hard it is to pull myself out of the all-consuming worlds she builds and allows me to inhabit for the duration of her stories. It is pure magic - which is saying something given the realistic and often quite horrific situations she sets her characters within - and I get a little shiver whenever I'm about to start a new book of hers. It's probably unnecessary to say, but I adored her newest novel, The Alice Network, and feel somewhat bereft now that I've left Eve, Charlie, and Finn behind.

One of the great wonders of Quinn's writing is her ability to wholly and convincingly build these beautiful, realistic, and often devastating settings while also creating these complex, combative yet loving (most of the time) characters to populate those settings. So often authors seem better at one component or the other, but Quinn has mastered both elements and it makes for the ultimate experience, especially given she writes  historical fiction. Not being able to physically go back in time and witness these awe-inspiring and sometimes dangerous time periods, her novels are the next best thing.

The chapters of The Alice Network alternate between Eve's POV in 1915 and Charlie's in 1947. This not only helps build the character development (especially Eve as she's quite broken - emotionally and physically - when we see her in 1947 and going back to 1915 slowly shows us what happened) but builds the plot momentum and anxiety as huge and horrific things begin happening in these women's lives and right when one shoes drops we switch to the other timeline and have to wait to find out what happens next! This bait and switch model is delicious and begs the reader to read just one more chapter until you find you've been reading for much longer then intended.  

I was amazed at how much Charlie and Eve have in common given their very different experiences and upbringing. Both women are exceptionally smart, determined, and fiery tempered and both push against the constraints placed on women during the time periods they inhabit. On top of that, neither give a damn about what anyone thinks of them or their choices and both seem drawn to calm yet passionate Scotsman. Both women go through some devastating experiences and losses that would make even the stoniest heart ache for them. They are both also on their own mission to find someone who has been lost to them - one a much loved person and the other the ultimate enemy - and all I'll tell you is only one is found alive. Now don't you want to pick up the book and find out what I'm talking about?!

Something else I love about The Alice Network in particular is the extensive and thoughtful Author's Notes at the back of the book. Quinn goes into great detail about the truth behind the story and the characters as well as where she condensed or altered information for the purpose of story flow. There's also a P.S. section with real letters and trial records related to the story, reading group questions, and further reading. These sorts of sections are so important when it comes to historical fiction, at least for me, and I delighted in seeing just how much of the story was factual....you can't make some of this stuff up!

The Alice Network is heartbreaking and heartwarming historical fiction that is sure to delight any reader. While I would recommend all of the novels of Kate Quinn in general, this novel in particular is a great place to start if you've never read her novels before. Pick it up, love it, and place it on your "favorites" shelf as I've done with all of Kate's books!   

What Do I Think About the Cover?

It's gorgeous! You can't tell from the photo, but the cover is slightly textured and is thick with folded end pieces (sort of like the dust jacket of a hardback). This, combined, with the deckled page edges, makes the book seem substantial and somehow aged (if that makes sense!). The cover art itself is beautiful as well and fits the story perfectly. Love, love, love!

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Thank you to author Kate Quinn and HarperCollins for providing me with a free copy of The Alice Network in exchange for an honest review! Find more information about the book below.

My Reviews of Kate Quinn's Other Stories


Praise for The Alice  Network

“Told through the lens of two very different women, the eras unfold separately and then collide with shocking results. Lovingly crafted and brimming with details, readers are sure to be held in Quinn’s grip watching as the characters evolve. Powerful reading you can’t put down!”—RT Book Reviews, 4.5 star, “Top Pick”

“Both funny and heartbreaking, this epic journey of two courageous women is an unforgettable tale of little-known wartime glory and sacrifice. Quinn knocks it out of the park with this spectacular book!”—Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America's First Daughter

“The Alice Network... perfectly balances a propulsive plot, faultlessly observed period detail, and a cast of characters so vividly drawn that I half expected to blink and see them standing in front of me. This is historical fiction at its best--thrilling, affecting, revelatory.”—Jennifer Robson, international bestselling author of Moonlight Over Paris

“Kate Quinn delivers an enthralling tale filled with breath-taking narrative that will make the reader feel as if they’re in the back of the roadster, riding along with the raucous Eve and courageous Charlie on their clandestine adventures. Suspenseful and engrossing, THE ALICE NETWORK is a must-read!”—Heather Webb, author of Rodin's Lover

“A ring of daring female spies known as the Alice Network left a legacy of blood and betrayal. Two women suffering the losses of two different wars must join forces, one to find her voice and her redemption, the other to face her fears and her oldest enemy. Kate Quinn strums the chords of every human emotion with two storylines that race over continents and through decades to converge in one explosive ending.”—Marci Jefferson, author of Enchantress of Paris

"A powerful story filled with daring and intrigue, The Alice Network will hook readers from the first page and take them on an unforgettable journey."—Chanel Cleeton, author of Next Year in Havana

Buy the Book


Check Out the Book Trailer!!


You can also watch the amazing interview between Kate Quinn and Reese Witherspoon (yes, you read that correctly!) for the RW Book Club online HERE.

About the Author

KATE QUINN is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia.

To learn more about Kate check out her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.



  1. Thank you for this review. This one is in the top part of my wish list!

    1. You are so very welcome, Carol! I really hope you get the chance to read it and that you love it as much as I do!