Good morning! Let’s take a minute for some real talk – it’s only the end of January and I’m already BEHIND on my Goodreads challenge to read 100 books. I’m doing my best not to let it stress me out (crazy, I know), because I know I’ll catch up. But man, that “you’re behind schedule” note is killing me! Anyone else doing a challenge this year?
But you’re here for the book review, not to hear me lament my reading progress. So without further ado, let’s talk about the audiobook it took me THREE MONTHS to finish.
Yep, you read that right. It took me three months to finish listening to the 15-hour audio version of Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network. Granted, it only took me that long because I pretty much only listen in the car on the drive to and from work…and I telelworked for most of November and all of December. So, really, that’s not that bad….right?
The Alice Network was nominated for last year’s Goodreads Choice Awards, but ended up losing the Historical Fiction category to Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours. I haven’t read that one, but I do understand why The Alice Network didn’t take the win. Like many historical fiction novels – or at least the ones I gravitate towards – The Alice Network is told in both past and present timelines. The first half of the book is fascinating. Most of the story is set in the past, and we learn about Eve and how she became part of the all-female spy network in WWI. (The Alice Network, though not called that, was real, and the history is pretty neat.) Charlie’s story in the present isn’t anything special, and unfortunately, a little over halfway through the story shifts more to her than to Eve. She’s set out to find her cousin Rose, and when that gets resolved I honestly couldn’t figure out why we were still going.
Oh wait, because we have to have a love story and a revenge murder. Sigh. The last third or so is set entirely in the present, with Eve and Charlie’s stories somewhat intersecting. It just didn’t work for me.
And what was with Charlie’s whole math thing? That was totally weird – Charlie just randomly says things like, “boy plus girl equals y” or whatever. Best I could tell, it had absolutely nothing to do with anything, other than Charlie was supposed to be good at math. Which had no bearing on the story, since all she did for most of the book was ride in a car, moon at Finn, and whine about Rose.
Annoyances aside, I did enjoy The Alice Network, perhaps most of all because it introduced me to a part of history I didn’t even know existed. I recommend it for that alone, but that’s not the only reason to read this book. Read it for badass Eve.
Paperback: 520 pages Audio: 15 hours
Published: June 2017 by William Morrow Source: Purchased via Audible
The Alice Network on Goodreads
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.
“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