CBR11 Bingo – Far and Away
This category is a bit broad, but hopefully a novel set on a different continent in a different time period is far enough away? 🙂
The Alice Network starts off with American co-ed Charlotte (Charlie) St. Clair travelling to Europe to get “a little problem” taken care of (1947 translation: she done got knocked up out of wedlock and her wealthy parents are insisting on an abortion in Switzerland). Charlie’s motivations for agreeing to the trip to Europe are a bit more complex, as she is determined to track down her French cousin, Rose, whom she hasn’t heard from since the war. This goal leads her to the door of Eve Gardiner, an old, crotchety, drunk, who until recently, worked at the war office looking into Rose’s disappearance. She finds Eve to be arrogant and disagreeable (although her young Scottish driver is quite the opposite). In desperately trying to persuade Eve to help her track down Rose, Charlie mentions a name and potential contact that strikes home with Eve, convincing her to join the quest as if she herself now has something to prove.
This story is interspersed with the 1915 telling of Eve’s former life, where we learn that she was a part of The Alice Network in WW1, a group of female spies, working right under the enemy’s noses, getting information out of France and into England. She was trained by Lili, known as “the Queen of Spies”, and found herself in horrifying situations for the sake of her country.
These two women (accompanied by the charming Scotsman) set out together; Charlie searching for both her cousin and wisdom in what to do about her growing pregnancy, and Eve being forced to face the demons from her past, including a betrayal that tore the bonds of The Alice Network apart.
I couldn’t put this book down – it’s worth all the rave reviews that it has earned. I especially enjoyed the author’s notes at the end, detailing the real life spies that this was based on. Love me a book with some badass female protagonists. 🙂