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The Alice Network

🕵🏼‍♀️Espionage 📜Historical Fiction ⭐️ Distinguished Author


Louise de Bettignies, the "queen of the spies." A name that has been forgotten by the people of today but remains infamous in the history books. World War I, the Great War, pulled 135 countries into four years of bloodshed. Sitting on the sidelines isn't an option, and in 1915 Evelyn Gardiner joined the dazzling Louise de Bettignies, code name "Alice," to uncover German secrets behind enemy lines. Thirty years later, the events and trauma of the Alice Network still haunt Evelyn Gardiner. Certain truths have been buried; until a pregnant American college girl, named Charlie St. Clair, knocks on the former spy's door. Both want answers; both seek justice...and possibly revenge.

💬 Discussion Questions

1. In your opinion, name qualities well suited to be a spy. If given the opportunity, would you join a network of espionage?

2. How much do you know about World War I? Did you "Google" anything while reading?

3. Early in the story, Eve's landlady and fellow boarders are shocked to hear that Eve doesn't want to find a husband. They become suspicious that she is a "suffragette," to which Eve replies, "no." She wants to prove that she can fight and is less concerned about voting. What are some types of feminism? Has feminism changed over time?

4. Charlie St. Clair goes to the bank to withdraw money. The banker refuses to release her funds without her father's permission, and the pawnbroker low-balled the exchange of her pearls for cash. Is your country fair and equal for women and men? How has gender affected your life?

5. Eve and Charlotte were both pregnant at inconvenient times. One chose to have an abortion, and the other decided not to. Please discuss with the group the reasons behind their decisions.

6. There are many memorable scenes in the Alice Network. Which scene stood out to you the most?

7. Eve and René have a long, complicated relationship. Discuss the different dynamics between these two - their roles, their intimacy, and the end of their involvement.

8. As colleagues, Violette and Eve were close and fiercely loyal to their leader, Lili. For years, Violette blamed Eve for exposing Lili to the Germans. Even if it were true, should Violette treat Eve as a traitor?

9. Cecil Cameron lied to Eve; he told her that René was dead. Should he have told her the truth?

10. Eve wants René dead, and Charlie wants the world to know of his crimes. Which argument do you side with? Was the ending satisfying?

Did You Know?

1. In the back of the book, Kate Quinn includes letters and trial records from Louise de Bettignies after her trial.

2. Kate Quinn, as in all of her books, includes a detailed Author's Note to discuss her writing process, character development, plot explanations, and historical research.

3. Kate Quinn's husband is a stutter; this added to the conversation pieces of Eve's dialogue and overall character development.

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Published: June 2017

🌏 Setting

1947 - Southampton, England
1947 - Roubaix, France
1947 - Oradour-sur-Glane, France
1915 - Folkestone, England
1915 - Lille, France
1915 - Le Havre, France

👥 Character List      

Charlotte "Charlie" St. Clair - Nineteen-Year-Old Protagonist
Evelyn "Eve" Gardiner - aka Marguerite Le Francois, WWI Spy of the Alice Network
Finn Kilgore - Eve's Handyman, Ex-Convict, Charlie's Soon-to-be-Husband
Evelyn Rose Kilgore - Charlie & Finn's Daughter

Rose Fournier - Charlie's French Cousin, aka Hélène Joubert
James St. Clair - Charlie's Brother, WWII Veteran, Suicide
Jeanne Fournier - Rose's Mother
Jules Fournier - Rose's Father
Pierre Fournier - Rose's Brother
Charlotte Joubert - Rose's Baby

Captain Cecil Aylmer Cameron - Recruiter, "Uncle Edward"
Alice "Lili" Dubois - Leader of the Alice Network, real name is Louise de Bettignies
Violette Lameron - Spy of the Alice Network, real name is Edith Cavell
Major Allenton - Instructor at Folkestone

René Bordelon - Owner of Le Lethe, Profiteer
Kommadant Hoffman - German
"Frog" - German Checkpoint Woman
Herr Rotselaer - Chief of Police in Tournai

Madame Rouffanche - Survivor of German Massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane
Mlle. Tellier - Disclosed Lili's Name & Involvement in the Alice Network
Donald McGowan - Charlie's Nonexistent Dead Husband

🖋 My Review

"In love, we find out who we want to be; in war, we find out who we are" (Vianne Mauriac, in the Nightingale by Kristin Hannah). To those who severed in opposition to tyranny, I have immense gratitude and appreciation for their sacrifice. To a point, I can relate to Charlie St. Clair. Her quest to locate her cousin and help all those around her is admirable and kind. When others give up, the desire to push for answers and resolutions becomes insatiable, especially for loved ones. In the aftermath of the war, Charlie looked for love, whereas her friend, Eve, sought out vengeance. Being two sides of a coin, the dynamic between these two was entertaining to read and produced meaningful conversations to discuss among inner circles.

Kate Quinn is a remarkable storyteller. Her attention to detail and historical interpretation of events draws one into the story. I understand why this book - and her other works - is popular among book clubs and historical fiction readers. It leaves them researching more about the era and people; at least, it does for me. Hopefully, this book will make it's way onto the big screen, as its a story many people should know, particularly the life and death of Louise de Bettignies.

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