Real Heroes

To my way of thinking, unearthing real-life heroes that the world knows little, if anything, about is always time well spent--and often involves a fascinating story, too. In her latest novel, The Alice Network (Morrow), Kate Quinn introduces readers to a ring of female spies that operated during World War I.

The year is 1947, and Charlotte "Charlie" St. Clair, a young, unmarried socialite with a baby on the way, sets out for Switzerland to have her "little problem" dealt with before her very proper parents punt her from the family. Charlie has other plans, though, and takes advantage of a quick stop in England to put them into play. Her beloved cousin Rose disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, and Charlie has the name and location of someone who might be able to find her. Enter Evelyn Gardiner, a woman who spent the war spying for the British--and for whom the past has taken a serious toll: "a tall gaunt woman in a faded print dress, her graying hair straggling around a time-raved face. She could have been fifty, or she could have been seventy. She had the Luger in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other.... 'I'm Eve Gardiner.... And I don't know anything about this cousin of yours.'" 

Despite their rocky beginning, Charlie and Eve join forces, setting out on a journey to discover truths they both desperately need but never would have searched for without the other. Shifting between Eve's time spying in 1915 and their present-day exploits via alternating chapters, Quinn expertly weaves the women's experiences together, tying two disparate individuals to each other in the most meaningful of ways. Smart, suspenseful and adventurous, The Alice Network is a worthy homage to the female spies of World War I of which Quinn should be proud. --Stefanie Hargreaves, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers

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