Book Review: The Alice Network

You guys! I had this saved in drafts from nearly two weeks ago and forgot to his post!

The Alice Network is a book I discovered through the Reese Witherspoon book club, and the plot grabbed me immediately. It is the story of a British spy and an American college student whose lives intersect by coincidence but are inextricably linked from that moment on.

What I found was that…. I just don’t really like this style of historical fiction. I was apathetic regarding the plot because I couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t. I realized that I love to read history books because the crazy and entertaining facts that you read are in fact, facts (did I over do that?). The way that you can’t believe what you’re reading but know it must be real is so rewarding and exciting.  And in this case of historical fiction, I couldn’t muster the same entertainment for the wild and crazy because I didn’t believe it to be true. Have you guys experienced this? It was a shock for me because I didn’t realize that I had so moved on from the genre.

“War” What a small, hopeles syllable to cover so much loss.

This book explored many themes over its 547 pages — including mental health, gender, abortions, grief, and loss. As the book unraveled, the connections between Eve, the spy whose story takes place in 1915 and Charlie, the pregnant american college student, whose story takes place in 1947, become more and more clear.

At the outset of the book, I found Charlie a little frustrating. She was pregnant and her parents were taking in to Europe for an abortion and she was running away. While I don’t believe forcing someone to have an abortion is a good thing, she seemed a little careless and immature. I know it would have been boring to show her going to a doctor, butIi kept worrying about her health the whole book, as her pregnancy moved along and she hadn’t been seen by a physician. Over the course of the book, Charlie learns life lessons from Eve about war time and growing up and living through complex emotions, and as Charlie matures, she becomes easier to deal with.

Before I started the book, I read a review of Goodreads that said the reader enjoyed the 1915 story more than the 1947 story – and my answer to that is OF COURSE you did. All the war excitement and spying happens in that story line. The 1947 story line serves the purpose of setting up the story for Eve to tell. It kind of reminded me of the movie Titanic, where they occasionally flash to the present and ask the survivor to tell a different part of her story.

Despite my concerns with the factual basis, and the annoyingness that was Charlie in the beginning of the book, I found that I began to care about what happened to Charlie and Eve, to the point that I couldn’t put the book down and forget about it. In the end I’d give it somewhere between a 2.5 and a 3.0. It wasn’t a ‘bad’ book, but I didn’t really enjoy it, nor would I reccomend it to a friend. I will include the disclaimer though that this might just be me — I felt like I reacted similarly to the book Brooklyn by Colm Coibin and people seemed to really enjoy that.

Have you read The Alice Network? Let me know what you thought!

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