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The Alice Network

“Are you ever afraid?”

“Yes, just like everybody else. But only after the danger is done—before that, fear is an indulgence. Welcome to the Alice Network.”

Based on real characters and events, The Alice Network is a historical fiction novel weaving back and forth between 1915 and 1947, with Evelyn “Eve” Gardiner, a former World War I spy, and Charlotte “Charlie” St Clair, a pregnant American in search of her cousin, Rose. Everyone assumes Rose died during WWII, but Charlie wants proof which leads her to Eve.

The Alice Network is an admirable, fast-paced, and fascinating story about two women facing challenges and discrimination because of their gender. In the last several years, women from many different walks of life and ethnicities, and their integral contributions to the arts and science, are being uncovered, recognised and brought to mainstream attention in literature and film. The Alice Network is another such contribution; the retelling of a spy network consisting of women who put themselves in grave danger to collect information that the allies could use to defeat Germany. The Alice Network was lead by the remarkable Louise de Bettignies, alias Alice Dubois.

Perhaps the most powerful element of the novel is Eve’s emotional, heartbreaking, broken, grief- and guilt-stricken narrative, as we learn her backstory and her part in The Alice Network. Eve’s character and her perspectives are very strong, and I loved how Kate Quinn gave her a stutter; it was interesting to see how she was able to use this weakness to her advantage.

The Alice Network makes for an interesting group read and discussion for those in a book club.