Tag Archives: The Alice Network

Book Club Reflection: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

29 Jun

I think it’s safe to assume my book clubs will continue to meet online until the fall. I can’t say I mind. I like being in my athletic shorts and having a beer. And finishing dinner five minutes before it starts. We were able to attract a lot of new members this month, too. I’m not sure if it’s because the book was available easily online, people are bored, or this was an interesting book to more people, but I didn’t mind. As with my last group, we also had to find some COVID connection. This time, it was how Charlie’s brother’s PTSD seemed to jump to her as if it were a virus that could be transmitted. But we had a lot more to say about Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network than that.

There were a lot of great characters for us to discuss in this one. Eve was a group favorite and we spent a lot of time on how she changed from 1915 to 1947. We talked about two things that seemed to change her. The first was her relationship with Rene and the intimacy she engaged in with him. She seemed to start feeling strongly about herself and what she was doing when she enjoyed their intimate forays. She wanted to hate it because of who Rene was, but she found pleasure at times. What he did to her hands brought out her bitterness toward him. The second event was when she thought she’d betrayed Lily. She saw herself as a failure and couldn’t realize that she might be guiltless. Her job really changed who she was at heart. One member brought up how glossed over her abortion decision was, but felt that it changed how she saw her job and her commitment to it.

Rose’s story was hard for a lot of us to process. We thought it wouldn’t end well but were still wishing for a happy fairy tale ending. We hadn’t heard of the massacre. Besides Finn’s story of the gypsy girl, the survivor’s story was the most haunting moment of the book. One member had done more research and found that there was an elderly survivor in the town who stayed and she had the same name as the character in the book. History shows that there was a woman in the church with a baby who was killed in a similar fashion to Rose. It’s even more horrible when you know it’s true.

Lily was also a historical figure. She was often overlooked during the war because she was a short woman and wasn’t suspected of doing any spying. We were split on if we thought woman would be as effective as spies in modern times. On one side, women are more involved in military activities and are seen as more likely to engage in risky activities. Still, they are a bit more conspicuous than men, but the difference is much smaller than it was 100 years ago.

Rene was hard to read about. He was evil and cruel, seeming to have no respect for human life. One reader felt he was so moralless as to be almost unrealistic. Others felt that there were, unfortunately, people like him in the world. Even worse, we still have people like this in our world. We saw a parallel between his moral hardening between WWI and WWII parallelled with the German its change. We debated if Rene should have faced legal justice, or if the vigilante justice Eve inflicted was right. We weren’t sure that the public would have had the stomach for it at the time after the Nurenberg Trials had been carried out. He was a man of violence and a violent end seems appropriate for him. It was even more appropriate that the statue of Boudelaire was used.

Finn was a welcome character in this book. He was also damaged by war and was very non-judgemental of Eve and Charlie for how the war had affected them. He was parallelled well with Captain Cameron. Eve’s affection for Cameron and Charlie’s affection for Finn were both rooted in mutual trauma but blossomed into something beautiful.

The women in this book had some strong friendships. Eve and Charlie started as enemies but grew to become very trusting and reliant on one another. Lily and Even started as friends and their friendship carried them through some hard times. These friendships were strong like family ties and the women passed no judgments for what had to be done. Charlie’s pregnancy and Eve’s abortion were never questioned on a moral level. These women were thrown together in very intense situations which can help strong relationships form. You understand someone and how they think quickly. They were also fighting the same enemies which gave them something to bond over quickly. Eve, Charlie, and Rose all had overbearing mothers as well. That may be generational, but it’s something that would have helped them bond, too.

This was a great discussion and I’m only sad that I read the book so long ago that I didn’t remember the details well. I’m looking forward to connecting with the group again soon. Maybe we can see each other again in the fall. Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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WWW Wednesday, 29-April-2020

29 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Forward progress! I’m reading White Oleander by Janet Fitch in print now. I have a copy on my shelves so when I was ready for a new book, I grabbed this. Much easier than trying to renew an ebook every three weeks.
I moved The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz only my phone and I’m speeding through it. I suspect I’ll be done with it next week!
I finished the fourth section of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern and I’m ready for my next Reading Buddy meeting. I hope it’s this week because I can’t wait to finish this one and write up a full review. Then we’ll have to pick another book. Oh boy, haha.
I’m glad to say I’m still moving forward with The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel. I’m enjoying the story which encourages me to pull it out and squeeze in a few pages when I can. I’m not sure how far into the book I am (trouble with my reading app) but I’d have to guess getting toward the middle. I’m excited to keep moving forward with this one.

Recently finished: I finished up Moby-Duck by Donovan Hohn after posting last week. I really enjoyed this one! I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it or how I’d get through some non-fiction when escapism was really what I needed but it was enjoyable and a quick read. I posted my review on Monday and gave it a full Five out of Five Stars.
I was able to finish up The Alice Network by Kate Quinn with my increased listening time due to training. This one was pretty good but with the large number of WWII stories I’ve read in the past few years, it did seem a bit unoriginal. I’d still recommend it as a good story, but I wouldn’t say it stands out more than others. I posted my review yesterday and gave it Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I think I need to start making plans again! For an audiobook, I’m hoping to start on The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson. This one came recommended by another blogger a while back and I do love some books about books!
For a physical book, I think I’m going to grab Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich. This was a gift many moons ago from a writer friend. I’m hoping it inspires me to do some writing and editing. I have a terrible NaNo that needs some love and quarantine should be a good time to do it, but I’ve had no motivation to try.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (4/5)

28 Apr

This book club selection got pushed back a few times and we finally had it on the agenda. I’m not sure if we’ll meet to talk about it since there hasn’t been much talk of this group moving to a Zoom meeting, but I wanted to read it just in case.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Summary from Goodreads:

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. 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.

I had to stop reading this book in the middle to power through another and it was easy to pick it back up where I’d left off. That’s to say that this story is straight forward, nothing hidden or sneaky in the plot. I liked the back-and-forth between the two timelines and I appreciated how Eve telling Charlie about her time as a spy aligned with the chapters from her point of view later on. It kept me engaged in the two stories at once. My biggest issue with this book is how many pregnant women there were! I wrote a post about literary pregnancies that this book triggered. Charlie’s I understood, another made sense (trying to avoid spoilers) but a third seemed almost unnecessary. Three was a lot for one book in my opinion. I feel like Quinn could have found different found other motivations for her characters.

I liked the main three characters. Finn was hard not to like, same with Eve. They were crude but well-intentioned and good to the bone. Charlie took a while to grow on me. She seemed too submissive at first and it bothered me. It wasn’t until we had the full story of how she dealt with her brother’s death and she made decisions about her future that I got on board with her. And Rene! Oh my, Rene. What an amazing villain. I might have liked him the best/worst of all.

Rene wasn’t your typical war novel villain. He wasn’t a pillaging soldier or military officer. He was a profiteering man who was more inclined to save himself than to stand up for anything else. He was so despicable that you knew you were going to hate him from the moment he was introduced. Eve’s descriptions of him and his penchant for the finer things in life was amazingly terrifying. He was one of the better-drawn villains I’ve encountered lately.

Charlie’s desire to escape from under her parents’ wing was very relatable and I think most women feel that at some point. It may not be 1947 anymore, but being a woman hasn’t changed much. Charlie’s story was sad but I don’t think it’s unusual. I just think it’s hidden better in today’s society. She wanted to rebel yet she was almost swayed to give up her ideas and succumb to her parents again. It was great to see her make a decision for herself in the end.

Kate Quinn
Author image via Goodreads

Eve and Rene’s time during WWI was my favorite to read. It was so twisted and intriguing and you knew it was somehow going to end terribly but you just had to keep reading. Rene made my skin crawl and Eve mentions so many times how she feels the same way. I can’t imagine what it was like to have to spend so much time with him.

Charlie was whiney at the beginning and it was frustrating. She seemed misguided, thinking that her cousin was still alive and being so reckless to get answers. Honestly, she seemed like a spoiled rich girl no matter the problem she had. Mommy and Daddy were going to take care of it like they’d taken care of every other aspect of her life. As the story developed, she became more sympathetic and I started to like her more and more.

Saskia Maarleveld narrated the audiobook and I think she did an amazing job. I didn’t notice at first that Charlie’s chapters had an American accent and Eve’s had a British accent. It took me a while to realize because the transition between the two was so smooth. Her voice for Finn was perfect. I can’t speak to her French or German but she had this non-speaker convinced she knew what she was saying!

Revenge was a big theme in this book and I’m not sure that I liked that aspect of it. Eve wanted her revenge and dragged Charlie into the plot. I think some of the minor themes fit the story better: female friendship and taking control of one’s own future. Unfortunately, the end of the book was very focused on revenge so you’re left with that taste in your mouth. Is it worth it? I’d say no but I think Eve would argue with me. I’m not sure about Charlie. We never see if she feels better after exacting her revenge.

Writer’s Takeaway: Unfortunately, I didn’t feel this book was well balanced. I felt Eve’s story was much more compelling and interesting than Charlie’s. I’m not sure I’d argue that it would have been a better book on its own because the conclusion was satisfying and Charlie was needed for that to happen. But I wonder if Charlie could have been a more compelling character. Especially at the beginning when I disliked her so much.

A good read with just a little lacking. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Throwback Thursday Book Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn | Mrs. B’s Book Reviews
The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn | Reading on the Run

WWW Wednesday, 22-April-2020

22 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: My plan for White Oleander by Janet Fitch is to pick up my physical copy of it once I finish with Moby Duck. I think I’ll get through it faster this way instead of waiting for holds and losing them so often.
I got through very little of The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz but I have a plan for this as well. Once I finish The Alice Network, I’ll put it on my phone and listen to it that way. I’m not going to be in the car much so I might as well find another way to listen to it.
I’m ready for the third meeting with my Reading Buddy on The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. This one has been a great escapist read for me and I keep flying through the sections as soon as I start them. I hope we meet soon.
I’m back to focusing on The Alice Network by Kate Quinn full time as my audiobook. I began my triathlon training plan this week so I suspect I’ll start getting through audiobooks a lot faster as I spend more time running and biking. I expect this one to be finished by next week.
I’ve found ways to keep myself moving through The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel as an ebook. I’ll play a game on my phone and switch between the two so I draw out both. It’s been a good way to kill a lot of time and still move forward with my ebook.
I’m really enjoying Moby-Duck by Donovan Hohn. I didn’t think I’d get so into a non-fiction read just now but this topic is really interesting to me and I’m able to sit and read it for some long periods. It’s quite good.

Recently finished: I finished up A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold as fast as I could so another member of my book club could grab a copy. I wonder how much though our organizer put into picking the timing for this book. The anniversary of the Columbine shooting was this past Monday and I posted my review on the day as well. I initially gave the book Three out of Five Stars but changed my rating to Four after I reflected on it more.

Reading Next: Yet again, no plans for something else. I’m doing double duty on all my books already, it seems overwhelming to think of what’s next. Maybe in a week, I’ll have a better perspective.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 15-April-2020

15 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Solid hold on White Oleander by Janet Fitch. I’ve lost the hold on the ebook again. I own a physical copy of this book so I think I might visit it in that medium. The platform I’m using to get it as an ebook tends to have long wait times so I’d rather move to another platform where ebooks are more readily available.
I don’t think I’ve been alone in the car for a week so The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz is still where it was before. I’ll try to find some excuses to drive, but I don’t foresee that happening much.
I pushed my reading buddy to have our second meeting on The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern yesterday. I’m flying through this book and dragging her to keep up with me. I think we’ll get through it super fast since we’re both on lockdown right now and reading fantasy is a great way to escape reality.
I started on The Alice Network by Kate Quinn but have put it on hold because a more pressing hold came in. I was enjoying it a lot before I stopped so I hope to get back to it soon and keep moving forward.
That pressing hold was A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold on audio. My whole book club is fighting for a few copies of this one so I wanted to start it as soon as I could and start making my way through so someone else can get this copy before our meeting next month. It’s a hard book to read/listen to but also very interesting and well written. I think we’ll have a great discussion about it.
I switched my ebook to The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel. This is available on a platform that’s easier to use with my slow ebook-reading habit. I’ve just started and it’s not a long book but it will probably take me a while still.
Just to make this list longer, I started a new physical book as well. My logic is to read through my autographed books since I don’t like those leaving the house and I’m a bit homebound at the moment. I picked up Moby-Duck by Donovan Hohn. I’m interested to see if I can fly through this one or if I need to switch to fiction to keep myself going for a while. Maybe I’ll switch back and forth.

Recently finished: I was able to finish Cuando era puertorriqueña by Esmeralda Santiago Friday morning. It was a great way to start off my Friday! It always feels great to finish my Spanish language read for the year. I was able to write up a review and get that posted on Monday. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.
I also read a short book, Pope Francis Speaks to Our Hearts. It was a collection of quotes from early in his papacy and a nice light thing to get into over Easter weekend. I gave it Three out of Five Stars and posted a review yesterday.

I also reviewed The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller last week. I’m still not sure if this book fell flat for me or if I had unrealistic expectations because of the author’s other books. Either way, I gave it Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: With how long my current reading list is, I’m not looking ahead. It’s too daunting.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 8-April-2020

8 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Stalemated with White Oleander by Janet Fitch. I’ll get to it eventually. But this one will languish.
I’ve been inside more and more so The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz hasn’t moved much. I’m still on disk three.
I’ve made good progress with Cuando era puertorriqueña by Esmeralda Santiago. I was hoping to have it finished this week but it’s slower for me to read in Spanish and I haven’t quite made it through yet. I suspect I’ll be done next week, though.
My reading buddy and I had our first Zoom Book Club meeting on Monday to talk about The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I didn’t realize I’d left us at such a cliffhanger so when we finished, we immediately found the next time we were both free to meet so we could keep moving forward.
I needed to make some changes for my next eaudiobook. My book clubs are starting to move online. I’m not sure if the one group will meet, but I’m still going to try to read The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. It has been one our club has been talking about for a while so I hope I enjoy it.

Recently finished: I wrapped up The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller pretty quickly. I had this book on my list after reading his first novel, Norwegian by Night. It was very different and I’m still considering how I feel about it. I think I had it set in my mind that it would be like Miller’s other books so I’m wondering if I’m disappointed at the difference or I truly didn’t enjoy it as much. Either way, look for a review tomorrow. I’m still debating my rating.

Reading Next: Needing to move forward with book club books, I’m hoping to start A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold. There’s a hold on this audiobook since my book club is reading it and we’re all hoping to get a copy. When it’s my turn, I’ll try to get through it as fast as I can.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!