The Last Tuesday Book Club: The Alice Network

Wow. That’s the first word that came to mind when I finished this book. It was a roller coaster of a ride, with a (very) few ups and enough soul-crushing downs to make the most devoted reader require a break every now and then. But it was also riveting, addicting, and based on  a network of spies that actually existed during World War I.

It’s the story of two women: Eve, the WWI spy, and Charlie, a young woman who enlists Eve’s help in looking for her cousin following the end of World War II. Eve is broken and bitter; Charlie is unsure of herself and lacks confidence in her future. They are connected in ways that aren’t immediately apparent, and their similarities are many. I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it, and I highly recommend that you read it if you haven’t.

So here are the questions I have this month, some of which I have borrowed from the discussion at the end of the novel:

  1. How do you think the ending of the book would be different if Charlie had found Rose, alive and well?
  2. How do female friendships grow and change throughout the course of the book? Not just the relationship between Eve and Charlie, but also the relationships between Eve and Lili and Eve and Violette?
  3. Did you think Charlie was going to find Rose? Do you think it would have been a better story if she had? More or less realistic?
  4. How and when did young Eve begin to change into the person we meet at the beginning of the book? What prompted those changes?
  5. Finn and Captain Cameron are parallels for each other: both are Scots, ex-soldiers with war wounds and prison terms, and the support systems for the women they love who go into danger. How are the two men different as well as alike? Why does Finn succeed and Cameron fail?
  6. Charlie argues that Rene should face justice through the legal system whereas Eve favors a form of vigilante justice. Who’s right?
  7. The theme of fleurs du mal carries from Lili to Eve to Charlie. When does Charlie become a fleur du mal in her own right? How has knowing Eve changed Charlie’s life, and vice versa?

This will be the last book club discussion for the time being. It hasn’t been as successful an idea as I had hoped, and I would like to come up with other ideas for a regular blog feature that might get more interaction. Any ideas?

A huge thanks to those who read and discussed the books–a discussion makes the experience of reading a book even richer and deeper, and I loved hearing your thoughts and learning from you.

Until next time,

Amy

4 comments on “The Last Tuesday Book Club: The Alice Network

  1. 1. I am not sure the ending would have changed all that much. Finn was determined and I think he would have stayed by Charlie’s side. The difference would be that Rose would be part of the family too.
    2. Eve definitely had trust issues, understandably. Charlie just wouldn’t give up… at one point, Eve was an exciting young woman, it just took a long time for Charlie to break through that wall. As far as Eve, Lili and Violette, that’s a difficult question. I think that Lili always had a positive happy attitude so their relationship was always good. Violette seemed to be stand-offish right from the beginning. And when she felt like Eve betrayed them… that was the end. Forgiveness of any kind, regardless of the situation, was not going to happen.
    3. It would have been nice to find Rose Alive but I think it would have been a little unrealistic. Rose and Charlie were very close, had she been alive, she would have contacted her. And I don’t think it would have been a better story… a bit like a fairy tale.
    4. Eve’s turning point was when she felt like she betrayed Lili. If Rene had not lied to her, all of the pain she endured would have been a non issue. The cause and the friendships were everything to her.
    5. Well for one thing, Finn wasn’t married. He could pursue the things he wanted. Capt. Cameron, on the other hand, was married and he had a commanding officer to take orders from. He was forced to do things he didn’t agree with which led him to unhappiness and his final demise.
    6. Normally, I would go with legal justice.. but this man had lots of money, and lots of people in his pocket. I am with Eve, on this one. He didn’t deserve to live.
    7. They definitely changed each others lives. For one thing, Charlie found out the truth and I don’t believe Eve had it in her to seek it out until Charlie forced the issue. I think that Eve’s story as it progressed, strengthened Charlie and made her want to help Eve even more. Charlie certainly could not have found out what happened to Rose without all the connections that Eve had. They needed each other, and their relationship grew because of it. Not really sure how to answer the first part of this question. When does Charlie become a fleurs du mal In her own right? Maybe when she finds out how evil Rene was and that he was responsible for the lives of so many people including Rose and her baby. Her desire to find him, definitely increased.

    As you mentioned above, this was definitely a roller coaster of emotions with very little let up! However, I think it was well written and the characters were well developed as the story progressed. I enjoyed it very much!

    Hope you are enjoying your week!

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    • amreade says:

      1. I agree that the ending probably wouldn’t have changed much if Rose had been found alive. Charlie still wanted to help Eve see her way to breaking free of Rene, and I think Charlie would have gone with her no matter what.
      2. I think Violette and Eve can have a cautious friendship after the end of the book. Violette was obviously a smart woman and I think she had the guts and the sense to admit that she was wrong to blame Eve all those years once the evidence came to light that Eve was not the one who betrayed Lili. I found the friendship between Lili and Violette to be almost suffocating for Lili. She was a strong person and wouldn’t let Violette’s ministrations smother her, but someone else might not have been able to avoid it. As for Charlie and Eve, I think the two women have different ideas of friendship, and I think their friendship is built on both women respecting the differences and continuing to be friends despite them.
      3. I really thought Charlie was going to find Rose, though I thought Rose would be broken by the war, just as Eve had been (though to a lesser extent). I wasn’t surprised when she was dead, but I have to confess that there was a small part of me that wished the old lady at the church had been mistaken when she said Rose was dead and that Charlie would eventually find her. I freely admit to loving fairy-tale endings, but I think you’re right that that probably would have been a little too unrealistic.
      4. I think Eve began to change before she thought she betrayed Lili and instead that it happened when she started to sleep with Rene for information. He was such a snake that doing something like that would make anyone turn into themselves for protection under the circumstances. I think she eventually could have gotten over it, but then when she thought she betrayed Lili, that was the last straw and Eve couldn’t ever go back to the person she once was.
      5. I agree completely with everything you said about Finn and Capt. Cameron, and I would go a little further, too. Finn had someone (Charlie) to care about him and she could see him on a daily basis. She made every effort to help him through his pain. Captain Cameron, on the other hand, didn’t seem to have anyone to talk to about his circumstances and the decisions he was forced to make. He had a wife, but she clearly didn’t care very much about him. He had Eve, but he only saw her once in a blue moon. He needed someone who could offer constant comfort, and he didn’t have that person.
      6. I don’t know who’s right here: one woman is practical and the other is liberal. I believe vigilante justice would have been fine to a point, but not to the point of killing him. When it came right down to the end, Eve killed him in what could be argued was self-defense. So I have no problem with the way he died–I’m just glad he died.
      7. I think this is a tough question. I think Charlie had a backbone from the very beginning, though it took a while to show. I was proud of her when she left her controlling mother to go to London, which was at the very beginning of the book. I was already not loving the mom. It began to show a bit more when she went to Eve’s house, then little by little, it showed more and more as the story progressed. When Charlie told her mother she was going to have the baby, I think that was a huge step for her, and having met Eve, I think that made such a step a little easier for Charlie. She was already starting to see how useful a backbone could be. And there’s no question that the women’s lives were changed by knowing each other. Eve, I’m sure, would have killed herself if it hadn’t been for Charlie realizing that someone else betrayed Lili, pushing to find the truth, and refusing to let Eve do that to herself. Charlie changed even more than Eve did–she grew into her own womanhood by helping someone in desperate need and by pushing boundaries to find out the truth about her cousin Rose.

      Thanks for reading the book! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m working on ideas for new blog features and I’ll keep letting you know when I find something really good. In the meantime, thanks for participating and have a great week! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Diane Knox says:

        Better late than never? I finally finished!!

        How do you think the ending of the book would be different if Charlie had found Rose, alive and well?

        Yes it would have been like a fairy tale however, I secretly hoped that Rose was alive or at least her child.

        How do female friendships grow and change throughout the course of the book? Not just the relationship between Eve and Charlie, but also the relationships between Eve and Lili and Eve and Violette?
        Did you think Charlie was going to find Rose? Do you think it would have been a better story if she had? More or less realistic?

        Female relation ships always change. Most times it’s some sort of competition and trust even in th most subtle ways!!
        I think all of their relationships changed with trust and knowing a bit about what the other was really about.

        How and when did young Eve begin to change into the person we meet at the beginning of the book? What prompted those changes?

        I think Charlie changed when she lost Rose and her brother. I think Eve and Finn just gave her the courage to be and speak up for herself. I think Charlie and Eve were very similar just had lived through different circumstances. I feel either one would have done the same as the other if situations were reversed.

        Finn and Captain Cameron are parallels for each other: both are Scots, ex-soldiers with war wounds and prison terms, and the support systems for the women they love who go into danger. How are the two men different as well as alike? Why does Finn succeed and Cameron fail?

        Sharon you’re right. The thing that set them apart was the ring on his finger.

        Charlie argues that Rene should face justice through the legal system whereas Eve favors a form of vigilante justice. Who’s right?

        The system wouldn’t have been punishment enoug for who he was and what ha had done.

        The theme of fleurs du mal carries from Lili to Eve to Charlie. When does Charlie become a fleur du mal in her own right? How has knowing Eve changed Charlie’s life, and vice versa?

        Again I think they were each just a younger and older version of their own selves. Meeting each other gave them an opportunity to see theirselves from another perspective.

        I’ve enjoyed reading with you, I apologize for being behind. I hope you start up again when you’re ready in some way shape or form.

        Like

      • amreade says:

        Hi Diane,

        My favorite thing about your comments was that you note Charlie and Eve are very similar people–just that one’s older and one’s younger. I think you’re absolutely right when you say that Charlie would have done the very same thing as Eve in the same circumstances. I’m glad you got a chance to finish the book. I really liked it. Someday we may start up the book club again, but taking a break is probably the right thing to do at this point. Happy Fourth of July!!

        Like

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