Kate Quinn grabs your attention with two intertwining stories of Eve Gardiner in 1915 and Charlotte St. Clair in 1947. Their stories have rich layers of texture and intrigue. Eve Gardiner was a spy in 1915 for the “Alice Network” in World War I. The opportunity presented her with a way out of her dismal life. Trained in England, she went to France to be trained again by a street-savvy group of women who taught her survival skills not just textbook skills. Eve gets a job as a waitress in a local restaurant where many German soldiers congregate at night time. She attracts the eye of her boss and she becomes his mistress. She is torn at times about being loved by him and him confiding in her vital wartime secrets.
Charlotte “Charlie” St. Clair is pregnant and came to England in 1947 to get her “little problem” taken care of. She wants to find her cousin Rose, her mother just wants her to be a proper young lady. She meets up with Eve and Finn, Eve’s chauffeur and leaves her mother. Her mother tracks her down but Charlie stands up for herself and realizes she’ll make things work herself. The threesome become a family sorts all haunted by their past memories.
War is hell and Eve’s story makes that point with the scene where she endures her “lover’s” wrath and how one of the women in the Alice Network meets her fateful end.
At the end of the novel, the author, Kate Quinn admits to tweaking things but much is based on truth. I always appreciate the stories that are generational and how characters change over time. The Alice Network is a literary historical gem based on actual events and people.
Two women, one a war heroine, the other searching for her hero and how they found each other.
Worthwhile reading, the characters will stay with you long after the last page is finished.