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, code name Alice, 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. That is 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.
A look inside a female espionage network during the first WWW1, loosely based on fact, spanning 30 + years and 2 world wars. It is after WW2 and Eve is living with the dreadful legacy of her spying activities in France during WW1 when she is approached by Charlie, a young American girl on a quest to find her much loved cousin Rose. They join forces across continents to take a road trip with their Scottish driver, Finn, following the trail of past atrocities and in doing so, they also learn life changing lessons about themselves.
This is a tale that intertwines spies, family secrets, revenge and love. The story unfolds in alternating chapters which move back and forth in time before the two stories meld as one. Kate Quinn’s writing is incredibly descriptive bringing both the landscape and her characters to life.
Most of us found the story powerful and riveting but we had a difference of opinion about the love interest between Charlie and Finn and whether this relationship detracted from the strength of the novel.
Read by the Dundas Readers – Rating 8/10