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, 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.
This was a beautifully told story based on heroic female historical figures. I loved how much detail Kate Quinn was able to include, the depth of character development allowed me to live in this story.
The historical figures in this story, Lili and Violette, were so inspiring. And, though Eve wasn’t based on a real person, she rounded out their group incredibly well. Rene was an excellent villain because he wasn’t anything above or beyond what he needed to be: a man, greedy for status and power, overlooking women solely due to their gender and running away whenever things got too complicated.
The love story in the ‘modern’ part of this book was, sure, cliché and obvious, but still lovely. Charlie and Finn are just good people and it was nice to see them be smart and kind. They were good foils for Eve in her sad, guilt-ridden later years.
My biggest complaint here was Charlie’s annoying habit of simplifying everyday mundane things into equations as a way to prove how ‘unique’ she is. As if being pregnant and unmarried wasn’t enough, she also had to constantly prove how smart she was in an obvious and slightly narcissistic manner. Usually just being level-headed and helpful is enough to prove yourself, you don’t have to get all boastful with the weird/quirky nonsense equations as well.
Happy endings can be cloying and overdone and unnecessary.
I appreciated this one because of how well the writing carried the plot and how the overlapping past and present portions weaved together more and more over time until they overlapped to become one story. Sometimes, when the writing is good it’s worth having a happy ending to just enjoy the story.