The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, which is based on a real-life spy network that operated in German-occupied France during World War I, was one of the first books I picked up this summer. Charlie St. Clair, a young woman on a mission to find her missing cousin Rose, and Eve Gardiner, a World War I spy with a past she can’t forget, quickly drew me into their stories. I found it difficult to put this book down because I was so intrigued by the plot. Eve’s courage, strength, loyalty, and fierceness, as well as Charlie’s sheer determination, loneliness, and hopeful heart, will stay with me for a long time after I’ve finished reading this powerful story. You can find similar feelings of hope, bravery, and friendship in other books I’ve put together.
The Verdun Affair by Nick Dybek
Each of the characters in THE ALICE NETWORK is searching for something. Finn and Captain Cameron are two ex-soldiers who are looking to find a peaceful resolution to their past conflicts. To get a different perspective on searching, check out Nick Dybek’s THE VERDUN AFFAIR. An American orphaned in World War I, Tom now lives in Verdun, France. In his role as a search-and-rescue paramedic, he is able to empathize with families who have lost loved ones in war. Sarah Hagen, a woman from the United States, is looking for her husband, Lee, who has gone missing. Austrian reporter Paul is looking for the person who killed his subordinates. When they hear about a man with amnesia who might be the one they’re all looking for, the three of them meet. An unforgettable story of love, loss, and the lingering effects of war, this book will stay with you long after you close the book.
The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner
Charlie’s search for her cousin Rose, whom she loves as if she were her own sister, is the driving force behind THE ALICE NETWORK. Jennifer Rosner’s THE YELLOW BIRD SINGS is another story about longing and connection. During the Nazi occupation of Poland, Róa and her five-year-old daughter Shira flee their home. A neighbor’s barn provides them with temporary protection from the elements, and their lives go from being filled with love and music to being consumed by solitude and silence. Even though they are separated, the bond between Róa and Shira grows stronger, as does the hope that their lives will be once again filled with music. Loved every word of this story, which touched my heart deeply.
The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman
When I think of survivors, I think of Charlie, Eve, and Finn, Eve’s hired man who is a former soldier. I’m drawn to stories about survivors. Throughout the story, I found myself hoping for them all, hoping that they would one day find the serenity they so desperately crave. Alice Hoffman’s THE WORLD WE KNEW is also a tale of survival. There is a race against time for Hanni Kohn to save her 12-year-old daughter Lea from the Nazis in this story set in Berlin during World War II. However, Hanni is unable to accompany Lea on her journey out of Berlin. Ettie, the daughter of a rabbi, is her only hope. To keep Lea safe, Ettie conjures a mythical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem.
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
While reading THE ALICE NETWORK, I was struck by the way the female characters in the story helped and mentored one another. Irina Drozdova, a young Russian-American secretary working for the CIA’s typing pool, is recruited to be a spy in THE SECRETS WE KEPT by Lara Prescott. Doctor Zhivago, a novel that has been outlawed, is the subject of her most critical assignment. Forrester, a veteran spy who can charm her way into information from men who can’t keep their mouths shut, mentors Irina in the same way that Lili, the Queen of Spies, mentored Eve. Both books opened my eyes to these extraordinary women and their extraordinary friendships.
For Love and Country by Candace Waters
Many of the characters in these novels, particularly the female ones, seemed to me to be dissatisfied with their place in the world. Eve finally feels like she belongs and has a purpose when she joins the ranks of “the Alice Network.” To join the Navy WAVES program, Lottie Palmer leaves her fiancé and affluent lifestyle behind in FOR LOVE AND COUNTRY by Candace Waters. Lottie works hard to become the best airline mechanic in her division and is assigned to Pearl Harbor as one of the only female mechanics. A thought-provoking book about discovering your life’s mission and living a purpose-driven, authentic life.
The Light Over London by Julia Kelly
The characters of THE ALICE NETWORK are defined by their willingness to stand up for what they believe in and face their fears. Julia Kelly’s WWII novel, THE LIGHT OVER LONDON, is set in the city of London. Nineteen-year-old Louise Keene tells the story of a woman who is forced to marry a man she doesn’t want to marry. Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton, a new acquaintance at a nearby military base, shows Louise that things are about to get interesting, but Paul is abruptly reassigned. Louise heads to London, where she joins the British Army’s women’s auxiliary branch, in order to have a better life. Louise becomes a gunner girl, a job that was both dangerous and difficult for her to master. During air raid sirens that sounded throughout the night sky, the gunner girls were able to spot enemy planes flying over London. To get through the night, Louise relies on the belief that she and Paul will one day have a family. I was captivated by Louise’s story, as well as the stories of these fearless women who put themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis.
The Daughter’s Tale by Armando Lucas Correa
The relationship between Charlie and her cousin Rose was one of my favorites in THE ALICE NETWORK. Charlie and Rose, who are more like sisters than cousins, have always relied on one another. Charlie vows to do whatever it takes to locate Rose when she goes missing. From a promise between a husband and wife to a promise between a mother and her daughters to a promise between sisters in THE DAUGHTER’S TALE, Armando Lucas Correa’s World War II novel, promises play an important role. A heart-wrenching tale about the promises we make and the promises we keep even when it seems impossible..
The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
In THE ALICE NETWORK, Charlie and Eve undergo a great deal of transformation, and it is through these transformations that they come closer to discovering who they truly are. Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian living in Florida, is the protagonist of THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES by Kristin Harmel. While working in the library one day, Eva comes across an open magazine and sees an image that makes her stop dead in her tracks. Eva is stunned. The picture depicts a book that she hasn’t seen in over six decades. The Book of Lost Names is only known by Eva and one other person. To avoid further danger, Eva fled Paris for a mountain town in 1942 after her father was arrested. To keep Jewish children safe, Eva trained as a forger and forged documents on their behalf. Eva and Remy, a fellow forger, devised a scheme to secretly alter the birth names of a large number of children. Children who had their names changed hoped that the codes would one day allow them to regain their identities. A story of courage and love that will stay with you for a long time.