Kate Quinn has written a captivating novel alternating between the historical periods of 1915 and 1947. Set in Europe, two courageous women face down some of the most challenging circumstances they have ever known. Their stories eventually intersect in a clever and engaging way.
Charlie St. Clair is an American college student who has just returned home from school pregnant, much to the surprise and dismay of her grieving parents. World War II has just ended and their dear son, broken from the war, returns home only to take his life. The effect on their family has been devastating. Charlie's mother is a French woman determined to take Charlie to Switzerland to eliminate her little problem quickly and quietly. Her mother's plan involves a grand shopping spree in her homeland of France afterwards to lift Charlie's spirits. Charlie, who is uneasy with her mother's plan to begin with, abruptly decides to set out on her own while in England and leave her unknowing mother at the hotel. Charlie has a mission of her own. She has a piece of paper with two names scrawled on it she hopes will lead her to her French cousin, Rose. Charlie's family fears Rose may also be another casualty of the war.
This unexpected departure results in Charlie tracking down the drunk and disorderly Eve Gardiner in London, and it is here the story takes off. Eve begrudgingly agrees to help Charlie because one of the names on the paper is tied to Eve's own complicated past, a man she believed to be dead. Eve and Charlie, along with Eve's Scottish driver Finn, embark on a journey to the French countryside looking for answers. The story of Eve unfolds as the reader learns of her fascinating involvement with an all female spy network during World War I, dubbed the "The Alice Network."
Both book clubs I belong to have read "The Alice Network," and I have yet to meet anyone who didn't enjoy it. Quinn was not an author I was familiar with, but she seems to have quite a body of work featuring strong, self reliant women.
If you are looking for an good story with likable characters, look no further.
Claudia Cook is the director of Missouri River Regional Library.