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The Alice Network

A Novel
Written by: Kate Quinn
Narrated by: Saskia Maarleveld
Length: 15 hrs and 7 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,072 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In an enthralling new historical novel from national best-selling author Kate Quinn, two women - a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947 - are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

It's 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.

It's 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.

©2017 Kate Quinn (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Alice Network

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not impressed

I was really eager to read this book about the female spy network during the Wars...if only it hadn’t turned into a cheesy harlequin romance. Some parts were good, but I couldn’t get past the main character’s whininess. Couldn’t finish it.

10 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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My Mother in law suggested it!

I have to say hands down this is one of the best stories I have listened to! Saskia Maarleveld is truly a gifted narrator. This story had me laughing and crying while walking my dog and I didn't want it to end! My mother in law suggested this book to me and I am so happy she did, I have recommended it to many of my friends as well. A good book should be shared with everyone! This story had me wanting more the entire time and moved along at just the right pace. Loved it! #Audible1

7 people found this helpful

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The spy stuff is interesting for the most part

As a stutterer it’s always really weird to hear it portrayed in media. But the narrator does an amazing job of voicing the characters and you really feel the agony of not being able to say words. Oh and I guess the book is alright as well. It really loses steam at the end and Charlie is just. So. Irritating sometimes. If you’re a bored housewife looking for some semblance of excitement in your life I recommend listening to this book. Especially if you like random out of nowhere sex scenes and a romance that doesn’t quite make sense.

5 people found this helpful

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My first Kate Quinn book!

Also I have never read a Spy Novel!!! Nor did I know about these Brave Women (& Men) that risked their lives for our freedom.
It was a very interesting book. If it wasn’t for my Bookclub I may never have considered reading it. Very interesting!

4 people found this helpful

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  • CLG
  • 2017-11-01

excellent

a real 'page' turner! such a great story line. kept me guessing from start to finish. loved it.

9 people found this helpful

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5 stars isn't enough!!!

absolutely loved everything about this book and the narrator!! it will be tough to top.

9 people found this helpful

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Historical spy story

I really enjoyed listening to this book. The story alternates between the voice of Eve, a former WWI spy, and Charlie, who is searching for her cousin Rose, a WWII spy, after the war has ended. (Charlie has some issues and complications of her own.) The two stories unfold and a connection is revealed. Unfortunately, we don't learn too much detail about Rose's experiences, but we do learn a lot about Eve's, and it's a fascinating tale. I understand Eve's character is loosely based on facts which made it more meaningful to me. I also appreciate that it is a (rare) story about the role of women who were directly involved in the world wars.

2 people found this helpful

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RIVETING!

It is a good thing that this is an audiobook or I would have accomplished nothing until I finished the book. Many times I just stopped and listened because I had become so absorbed in the lives of the characters. I will be listening to this book again!

1 person found this helpful

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loved it

I found this book so endearing, heart wrenching and beautiful. A great take crossing generations, a must listen

1 person found this helpful

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  • PCR
  • 2020-01-03

Riveting

I finished this, redid the final 5 chapters the next day, and was unable to start another book the next. I got very tied up in the world created, and will read more by this author. Excellent reader as well. Now I will listen to a very short lecture called (I think) Lying. I am finding it hard to walk away from the characters.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Andrea
  • 2019-02-28

Great narration, story lacking

The narrator was enjoyable to listen to. She did a great job with the various accents and pronunciations and had different voices for each character.

Pros: the story idea is great! I had never heard of the Alice network and enjoyed that. The author did a good job of switching between the stories and tying them together so they dovetailed nicely at the end. Despite the cons I will list next, it was engaging and I wanted to know how it would end.

Cons: agree with many others who have said they enjoyed Eve's story but found Charlie insufferable. The equations, "little problem", "rosebud" as references or literary devices were annoying and distracting. However the one that really drove me crazy was the constant use of the word, "lagonda." The author used it at every point when one could have said, "car" and also added it unnecessarily when a vehicle is already implied. I rolled my eyes and cringed a lot during the Charlie chapters and sped up to 1.25.

I don't regret listening to it but won't listen again. This would have been better reading because then I could have skimmed through a lot. Also, as others have noted, there were a lot of gratuitous sex scenes and foul language, presumably for shock value and to establish these as "modern", relatable women, though I couldn't relate to them.

66 people found this helpful

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  • Marie
  • 2018-02-25

We are standing on the shoulders of giants...

I would give this book 10 stars. The performance is EXTRAORDINARY, EXCELLENT and just wow. This book is well written, the characters are so real, you feel everything and it is full of interesting historical tidbits from World War I and World War II, but most of all it has excellent character development and you will not want to put this book down. I can only recommend this book. The women are so brave, determined and yet so down to earth. What a story. Get the book!
If you liked my review, please vote.
thanks,

695 people found this helpful

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  • Joseph
  • 2017-07-27

Jane Austin meets Jason Bourne

Narration was excellent. Was able to distinguish the nuance between characters without going over the top to exaggerate any accents.
Story was good enough to keep the interest through to the end. Good descriptions of the scene to lead you to picture events without going sideways trying to thesaurus you to death.
I thought it was a spy novel, like a less violent Jason Bourne or possible detective recounting an unsolved mystery of an old war. It intertwines new mysteries of an old spy and a new girls hunt for old answers, however a little more romance scattered through-out then I anticipated.

404 people found this helpful

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  • Kaitlyn
  • 2018-02-15

High Rating Very Misleading!!

I bought this book and I really wanted to like it, it’s exactly my type of era and I loved the female spy bit and possibility of interlinking stories.

But here’s the issue(s)...
- The protagonist (Charlie) is insanely unlikable
- Very flowery, graphic, annoying descriptions
- Feels more like cheap, perfume-y mommy-porn than actual literature
- Highly repetitive “little problem”

If you want a book to make you cringe over and over again, by all means. If you actually like reading GOOD books— and not just the one publishers dropped a ton of money into marketing— skip this and save yourself some dollars and revulsion. I have never felt compelled to review a book until now and it was purely because I found it’s ratings so disgustingly misleading and it’s content childish, predictable and like one of those romance excerpts you’d find at the back of Cosmopolitan magazine. Except at least THOSE end. This just drags on and on and on.

Props to the narrator though, she did a good job and delineated accents and characters well.

292 people found this helpful

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  • Debbie Mathisen
  • 2017-07-08

Great Story of Spies and Survival

'The Alice Network' was fantastic! I couldn't stop listening. The characters are well developed and interesting. The story line is intriguing and kept my interest from the first sentence to the last. Intertwined with a bit of romance the story line becomes even more interesting. While reading you learn about the human perils of war and spies during those wars and how war affects even the innocent. The narrator does a wonderful job and was well chosen for this book. I would highly recommend 'The Alice Network! whether you get a written or audible version!

175 people found this helpful

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  • L.W.
  • 2017-06-08

PAIR AMAZING STORY+AMAZING NARRATOR=A TRUE MASTERPIECE

I listen to so many disappointing books and/or narrators. When you find a jewel you are just amazed. This is a real author who knows how to write, truly you are pulled into this tale from the beginning , ride the wave as it swing you up and down but never lets you go. I do not enjoy stories in which our inhumanity to one another is so painfully brought to life. However this author does not leave you in despair. Thank you for that. Thank you for every bit of this great book.

194 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • R.A.
  • 2018-03-07

Not Even a 5 Star Narrator Can Save This Story

The Narrator:

It's not surprising that Saskia Maarleveld has been nominated for a Audie for her performance here: the story would be completely lost without the strength of her performance. Personally, I disliked the voice she chose for the main character (an American girl); however, it was a case in which it was very challenging to distinguish between the way the character was written and the performance (i.e. I'm not sure the character could've been performed in a more agreeable manner). Still, that is just a personal preference, and there is no denying the talent she brought to the book as a whole: clear, distinct voices that really evoked the characters, and good management of characters of both sexes. In short: pretty much everything you'd hope for in a solid narrator.


The Characters - Meet Some 2D Stereotypes

I happily identify as a feminist and believe strongly that women should have equal rights and opportunities as men; however, one of the first things that hit me in this book was the heavy-handed helpings of *anachronistic* feminism. I don't think a woman has to walk around with a perpetually indignant inner monologue - as the main character does - to be in favour of women's equality. But this again is a personal preference - not enough to dismiss a book.

So I persevered in the listening, despite finding the main character pretty whiney, only to be disappointed at yet another poor stereotyping of a group; this time: mathematicians. Kate Quinn has conflated the field of mathematics with that of arithmetic. She has her character - who is supposed to be a burgeoning "mathematician" - go around summing up the world in positively jejune mathematical metaphors (e.g. "Me plus my best friend equals all the happiness in the world"; "This crazy old lady plus a gun minus any reason to hold back equals a completely unpredictable situation" etc etc). Oh, but of course, she's a math student - so she's *really* good with numbers: can add up a column of numbers that she sees from across the table, in her head, instantly, without error. I know that many people probably still conflate math with arithmetic, but basically once you hit algebra, the numbers start to go, and you can be a brilliant mathematician and still need a calculator to figure out what to leave as a tip.

To be clear, it's not just that this identity is "wrong", it's that it's simplistic and shallow: it perpetuates a pathetically thin view of how a human being (supposedly a real human being, with many different interests, hobbies etc) may see the world. Strike two for me. But still... the story had some interest.



SPIES!

I reached a point where I was able to stomach the whiney protagonist and the unimaginative stereotyping of a mathematician, and the plot started go some where with the stories of the 1st and 2nd world wars etc. It became the kind of story that you can listen to while doing something else (like math ;D) and you didn't need to worry about following closely, because the dialogue was trite and largely unimportant, but the story itself became interesting: I had hope. I thought "this is great - exactly the listen I needed right now" (I had a lot of math to do, you see). But then...


SEX

Yes, our feminist-mathematician driven story finds a way to weave lots of gratuitous sex and talk about sex throughout the novel. The protagonist betrays absolutely no inclination towards being unusually sexually active (for this time, in history) and then, quite suddenly, you learn she is literally sleeping with entire frat houses. Again, I don't have a problem with sex or women who have lots of it - but there's just no consistency in the character. Ms. Quinn just seems to have them do whatever she feels is necessary to move her story forward. It was at this point that it felt like I was reading a book intended for some very specific audience of sex-starved women who want to see the world in a very simplistic manner. This was about 2/3rds of the way through & it was a crash and burn from there (though I held out hope until the end).


& MORE STEREOTYPES

Was there a rough-around-the-edges, tough-guy who didn't talk much but had a charming accent, who was actually super sensitive and passionate? Yes there was.

Was there an "evil man" who's person represented all the badness of the entire world and the horrors of war, but did not have any clear motivation for his truly grotesque and horrendous actions? Yes.

Did said "bad man" perform savage acts of torture (described at length) without any clear motivation? Absolutely. Did it add to the story - only for shock value.

Was there a world-weary, disenchanted old woman who was also rough-around-the-edges but went through a magical transformation and became a loving godmother? Oh yes there was.

Were all the characters somehow "broken" and magically healed of life-long, (really!) serious problems (like severe alcoholism and a tendency towards assault that verges on the murderous) just through the power of meeting each other - pretty much, yeah.



IN SHORT:

Obviously I don't think this book is worth your time or your money (or I wouldn't have taken the time to write all of this): there are better options out there if you're looking for actual literature, or an engaging story, or stories of the heroism of women in the 1st and 2nd world wars etc. & I got this during a sale - not even recommended as a daily deal.

If what you're looking for is a book you can doze off to at the beach while listening without worrying about having to go back, then this one will do the trick, but even then there are better options.

Whatever you choose, I hope you find a good read :)

251 people found this helpful

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  • Debra Celovsky
  • 2017-12-30

Shines in this popular genre

I very much appreciate books that endeavor to remind us of the sacrifices made by men & women as they resisted the evils of the world wars. Quinn does this in searing detail. Some scenes went on a bit too long, the denouement, for instance. But those are forgiven in the sweep of a story that reminds us that war is always hell & freedom is never free.

64 people found this helpful

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  • Elizabeth
  • 2018-10-09

15 hours wasted

I didn't like this book. Shocked at all the positive reviews.It was not for me. So many better books from that era and genre. I feel like I wasted 15 hours. I almost quit several times but kept hoping it would get better. I felt the characters were stereotypical, one dimensional and unbelievable. I disliked them. A good editor could have cut out a few hours. So glad I can move on to a good book.

76 people found this helpful

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  • Desteny Cox
  • 2017-06-26

best book I've heard in a long time

wonderful kept me on my toes wanting more an more I fell in love with all the great tales that mixed together to make a plot that will take your breath at times make you want to scream with anger cry with joy an kill all at the same moment

88 people found this helpful