It’s 1947 and 19-year-old American Charlie St. Clair is in England, searching for her missing French cousin, Rose. Rose disappeared in Nazi-occupied France a few years earlier, so it’s possible she was a war casualty, but there aren’t any definitive records. Charlie wants to find her. She NEEDS to find her.
The last lead she had about Rose was from a woman named Eve Gardiner who worked at one of the British agencies that helped track down war refugees. Charlie visits Eve’s home and finds a bitter, drunk older woman with damaged hands holding a loaded pistol. Eve doesn’t have any ready answers but something about the details of Rose’s case obviously strike a chord with her. Grudgingly, and for a fee, Eve agrees to accompany Charlie as she follows the few crumbs that may lead to Rose. Accompanying them is Finn, a Scottish war veteran with baggage of his own.
The three head to France to see if they can find Rose. Along the way, we learn, though a series of flashbacks, about Eve’s past. During World War One, she was a British spy collecting intelligence about the German war efforts in occupied France. She was part of the spy network run by frenchwoman Alice Dubois (Alice and the network were real things although Eve is a fictional character). Eve’s story is heartbreaking and harrowing. The fear of being discovered is palpable, although Eve handles her fear with steely resolve. Until it all comes apart.
In 1947, a ghost from Eve’s past resurfaces as part of their search for Rose and it ends with a dramatic confrontation.
This book was at times riveting and at times difficult to read due to the nature of some of the topics, which included torture, abortion, suicide and PTSD. There was some heavy stuff in this novel. But there was also a message of hope and salvation. Eve, Charlie and Finn were three very troubled people who ultimately saved each other. They gave each other love and it helped each of them find purpose. That message was made brighter by superimposing it on Eve’s very dark past. Overall, a very well done story.
If you’ve read “The Alice Network”, tell us what you thought. Also, read any good spy novels recently? I’d love some recommendations.