Publication date: June 2017
Short version: Four roses out of a possible four.
It’s been ages since I’ve said, “This is my kind of book.”
And, “This time I agree with Amazon’s 4.5 stars.”
And, “I hope this author has more books.”
I didn’t feel any of the above when I started reading The Alice Network.
The story takes place in two eras with two female narrators: Charlotte, or Charlie, in 1947, and Eve, 22, in 1915.
Charlie St. Clair is American, a math whiz, single and pregnant, the last of which spelled Doom with a capital “D.” In that era all the blame and disgrace fell on the female, and Charlie is indeed blamed and disgraced. She loathes herself. As Charlie puts it, “…1947 was hell for any girl who would rather work calculus problems than read Vogue, any girl who would rather listen to Edith Piaf than Artie Shaw, and any girl with an empty ring finger but a rounding belly.”
I groaned, “Not another pregnant single woman story.” Plus, I don’t read books starring teenagers – too much teen angst.
So, not a promising start.
Charlie, accompanied by her mother, is in Europe for “The Appointment,” a euphemism for an abortion. But Charlie has her own agenda: To track down her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared somewhere in Europe during World War II.
Now to Eve in 1915.
Europe is embroiled in The Great War. Eve grew up in France but is living in London, grateful to be there instead of in her war-devastated homeland, grateful to have a crappy office job which she wouldn’t have except all the young men are off fighting the war. She’s grateful to have any job at all, because she’s got a serious stutter.
Though she’s grateful for her job, she wants to do something more: “She wanted to fight. Prove that stuttering Eve Gardiner could serve her country as capably as any of the straight-tongued thousands who had dismissed her throughout her entire life as an idiot.”
So both Charlie and Eve have their own agendas. How their paths cross, and how those agendas mesh, turned out to be an intense, engrossing, and captivating story.
There are plenty of great books with characters who remain basically the same throughout the story; Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind comes to mind.
Then there are books where the characters evolve, some for better, some for worse, but they change. Charlie and Eve go through plenty of changes, and going along with them grabbed me and held on right to the end.
Speaking of the end, the Author’s Note after the story was also fascinating reading, and made me want to learn more.
And speaking of the author, I’m delighted to report that Kate Quinn does have other books, all of them four stars+.
Looks like my reading list is squared away for now.
There’s so much more I could say about The Alice Network but then I’d have to include a spoiler alert. And I’d much rather leave it to you to sit back and savor every well-written word, reach the end, and say, as I did,
“This is my kind of book.”