Kate Quinn

The Alice Network

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  • Features 45 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
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The Alice Network Summary & Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 44-page guide for “The Alice Network” by Kate Quinn includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 45 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Warrior Women and Broken Lives.

The Alice Network is the seventh novel by author Kate Quinn. First published in 2017, the book is classified as historical fiction. It became a New York Times and USA Today bestseller and was also listed as a Summer Pick by Good Housekeeping, Parade, Library Journal, and Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club. Quinn has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga and two books set during the Italian Renaissance. The Alice Network and her latest title, The Huntress, take place in the 20th century. All of Quinn’s books have been translated into multiple languages.

The Alice Network is told from the perspective of two characters in various English and French locations during two distinct time periods. Chapters alternate between the points of view of 19-year-old Charlotte “Charlie” St. Clair and 22-year-old Evelyn “Eve” Gardiner. Charlie’s chapters are narrated in first person and cover the months of May and June 1947. Eve’s chapters are told from the perspective of a limited third-person narrator. Eve’s chapters span the period between May 1915 and March 1919, with an Epilogue set in Summer 1949.

The book centers on the search for Charlie’s missing French cousin, Rose. Charlie enlists the aid of Eve because the latter worked in a government bureau and handled Rose’s emigration paperwork in 1945. Eve is a battle-scarred World War I spy who has no interest in helping Charlie until she realizes that her own hunt for a French collaborator and Charlie’s hunt for her cousin may lead to the same man. The odd pairing of a pregnant 19-year-old and an abrasive, drunken crone explores the themes of broken lives, guilt and redemption, and what it means to be a warrior woman.

Plot Summary

In May 1947, Charlie St. Clair is on her way to have an abortion in Switzerland. When her boat docks in England, she makes a detour to London to seek the aid of Eve Gardiner in finding her lost cousin, Rose. A broken survivor of World War I, Eve has no intention of helping Charlie until she learns that Rose once worked in Limoges at a café called Le Lethe for a man named Monsieur René. Eve doesn’t initially tell Charlie her motive for becoming interested in the case but agrees to help for a fee.

Eve’s hired man, Finn, owns a Lagonda, which the two women commandeer for their journey across France in search of Rose. Each town they visit triggers one of Eve’s memories of World War I, when she was an agent with a spy ring called the Alice Network. Eve’s job was to infiltrate a restaurant in Lille called Le Lethe, whose owner was named René Bordelon.

René collaborates with the Germans to gain preferential treatment for himself. He makes Eve his mistress but later learns her true identity. Before handing her over to the Germans, he breaks all the bones in her fingers and drugs her to extract information about the head of her spy ring. Eve is tormented by the belief that she betrayed her contacts during this ordeal. She hates herself and wants to kill René. After hearing Charlie’s story, Eve is sure René also owns the restaurant in Limoges, where Rose disappeared. Eve plans to hunt him down and murder him.

As the search for Rose continues, Charlie learns that her cousin was killed during a Nazi massacre. The man who alerted the Nazis was none other than Eve’s nemesis, René. The two women now realize they’re hunting the same man. They manage to track him down in Grasse, where he has retired to live as a country gentleman. A final confrontation occurs in René’s villa, where Eve kills him just as he’s about to shoot Charlie: “Surprised to the end that there was pain he couldn’t outrun, vengeance he couldn’t escape, consequences he couldn’t evade. Women who couldn’t be beaten” (474).

Charlie discovers evidence that Eve never betrayed her spy contacts. René lied to her. This knowledge lifts Eve’s burden of guilt and allows her to move forward with her life. Charlie, too, learns to appreciate her own courage and resourcefulness. Even though she couldn’t save Rose, she has succeeded in saving Eve. In saving Eve, Charlie ultimately saves herself.

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