Friday Fic Pick: The Alice Network

Alice NetworkThe Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Historical Fiction – 1917 (World War I) and 1947 (Post-World War II) England and France

From the Author: In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling 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.

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.

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.

My Take: The Alice Network is in one word, phenomenal. At times it is also dark and gritty and emotionally draining. That is the nature of war. But above all it is about conquering the darkness both outside and inside of ourselves, about friendship and family, love and life—about what is worth fighting for. From the minute I picked this book up until the last of its nearly 500 pages, I was blown away.

Charlie and Eve are two quite different women; however, their differences become two sides of the same coin. Both are on similar quests to find answers to the lives they left behind. Except Charlie still believes that there is hope for the future while Eve does not. These two women’s stories flow in and out of one another, switching between 1917 and 1947 until they finally merge and continue to the story’s final climactic moment. Often in dual-timeline novels, one time period is more captivating than the other, but I didn’t feel that with The Alice Network. Both stories held my attention equally. Even the secondary characters drew me in.

As discussed in the author’s note, the amount of research put into accurate depiction of these women’s lives is astounding. I especially enjoyed how Kate Quinn brought together experiences from both world wars. Most novels that I have read fail to mention that WWI ended only twenty years before WWII began, which isn’t much time for personal or economic recovery. Kate Quinn does not shy away from this aspect, acknowledging in detail the ramifications of WWI on her characters’ decisions within and after WWII. She brings forth raw emotions and lays them bare for us to see, creating characters that are both strong and vulnerable and very much humans we can relate to. Simply put, this novel is a beautiful example of what all historical fiction should be. Kate Quinn’s writing is completely spectacular.

Kate Quinn also recently released The Huntress, about WWII Nazi Hunters. More information on her novels can be found here: http://www.katequinnauthor.com/

Content Advisory: Due to the thematic nature of this novel, the story did contain a higher level of mature content than I typically include in books reviewed on this site. Please be advised that there are scenes containing graphic elements related to war, scenes of sexuality (although not explicit enough for me to consider erotica) and some instances of strong profanity. That being said, I found these elements to be, for the most part, used appropriately within the context of the story, and often I felt the gritty nature actually added to its authenticity.

REVIEW TEXT COPYRIGHT 2019 KELSEY GIETL

Book Launch this Weekend!

Twisted River Cover Final - hiresWell, readers, it’s almost here. Only one day until the official launch of my second book, Twisted River. I loved crafting the second half of the Across Oceans story and am truly thrilled and honored to be able to share it with you. While it holds the same charm as Across Oceans, in many ways I believe you’ll love this one even more. My favorite part of researching this story was that it takes place in my own hometown of St. Louis allowing me to insert many familiar locations and historically accurate details throughout. There are also a number of new characters including a snarky newspaper reporter who barged his way into my book without asking and a brother/sister photography duo who will take you to where I hope are unexpected places. And of course all your favorites are back from Book 1 … but I’m not mentioning their names just in case you haven’t read Across Oceans. No spoilers here.

To celebrate the launch, I am hosting a Very Merry Christmas book signing tomorrow, December 15, at Half Price Books in St. Charles, Missouri from Noon until 3 p.m. A few fantastic reasons to swing by the sale:

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  1. Just to chat. I love my books and I love my readers. Put them together and I could talk all day. So stop by to say hi and ask anything about … well, anything.
  2. Pick up a book. Across Oceans and Twisted River will both be available for purchase and signing for $12 each or snag both books for $20 (nearly $8 off online prices). There are also limited copies of the old cover edition of Across Oceans available for $10. They make great Christmas gifts!
  3. Bring a book. Already purchased a copy of either of my books online? I’m still happy to sign them.
  4. Win four books. At the end of the event, I’m raffling off four wonderful historical fiction novels: The Forgotten Room, Becoming Mrs. Smith, Salt to the Sea, and The Book of Speculation. There’s three ways to win: show up, buy one of my books, and/or subscribe for updates. Complete all three – that’s three entries. (Sorry, in-person entries only.)

So there you have it, folks. I hope to see you at the sale! Now, off to continue work on Broken Lines. An early hint at things to come in book 3: What is the cost of loyalty in the midst of war? How do you define enemy when the enemy is you? The lines may not be so clear anymore.

Copyright 2018 Kelsey Gietl

Launch Day – Across Oceans

It’s finally here! I’m so excited to share that my novel, Across Oceans, is now available in the online stores listed below:

Amazon (USA) – bit.ly/ao-amzn-usa
Amazon (Canada) – bit.ly/ao-amzn-ca
Amazon (UK) – bit.ly/ao-amzn-uk
Amazon (Germany) – bit.ly/ao-amzn-de
Barnes & Noble – bit.ly/ao-bn
iBooks – bit.ly/ao-kg-apple
Kobo – bit.ly/ao-kobo
Large Print (USA) – bit.ly/ao-lp-amzn
Large Print (Canada) – http://bit.ly/ao-lp-ca

It has been a long two years from the day I started outlining to publication. It was a challenging two years, and a most rewarding two years. Independent publishing is a journey to be sure, but it is one I am so blessed to have so much support for. Thank you to everyone who has walked this path with me from the beginning; I could not have accomplished this without each and every one of you.

For my new readers, welcome! I hope that you enjoy Across Oceans as much as I loved bringing it to life for you. If you would be willing to leave a review on any or all platforms, it would be so greatly appreciated. Also, if you have questions, comments, or suggestions after reading, please send me a line here, or find me on Goodreads.

Two Announcements!

I have two exciting announcements this exceedingly hot Saturday Morning – 103 before heat index in St. Louis today. With a day as warm as this one, it seems only logical to stay inside and read the paperback proof for my upcoming novel. And then that’s it, folks! The hard part is done, and I can focus on getting it into your hands to read. Which means…

Announcement #1 – The publication date for Across Oceans is moving up to August 10! It will be available as an ebook, paperback, and large print paperback. More details to follow soon.

Announcement #2 – It’s time for a cover reveal! I absolutely love how it turned out and I hope you do too!

AO ebook

Text and Photo Copyright © 2017 by Kelsey Gietl.

Dare to Fail

There’s something so beautiful about fireworks: the kaleidoscope of color, each boom’s heart-stopping thrill, and the emotion they convey when displayed against a well-chosen soundtrack. At the same time, they can be terrifying. One misplaced fuse, one ill-timed action, and everything will, quite literally, go up in smoke.

Standing on the edge of achieving a goal can sometimes feel like that – beautiful and thrilling, yet in the same breath, terrifying. One step away from victory and also one step away from disaster. We begin to doubt everything we were so certain of yesterday.

For writers, as we near our novel’s publication date we begin to ask, “What if every review is negative? What if I overlooked an embarrassing grammatical error? What if, despite all my research, I explained every detail inaccurately?” We spend months or years, perhaps decades, crafting what we believe to be an amazing story. We pour a little piece of ourselves onto the paper and risk much to share it with others. Is it worth it?

One summer during college, I apprenticed at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. During one of the most rewarding and educational summers of my life, the most important lesson I learned was said by our technical director during our first apprentice meeting: “Dare to fail.” This phrase has been posted on a little purple sticky note on my desk for over a decade now.

Every goal has a possibility of failure. If we never take chances, we never fail, but we also never succeed. Does this mean we should make reckless decisions? Of course not. We must be smart with our actions, but sometimes breaking out of our comfort zone is the only way to see what we are truly capable of. For introverts, this can be especially difficult, which is why so many of us write our thoughts instead of saying them.

Today is America’s Independence Day, a celebration of people who risked much to achieve much. What if our forefathers never fought for what they believed in? What if our ancestors, from all corners of the world, decided that leaving their country’s familiarity was easier than starting over somewhere new? What if Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, or Abraham Lincoln quit before they began? The United States would look very different from the country we know today.

To quote Thomas Edison, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Fear of the unknown is worth the effort. We may succeed in exactly the way we imagined, or nothing could go according to plan, and it all blows up in our face. But we can sift through the ashes to discover that something even better lies hidden beneath our supposed failures.

So dare to fail. I am. Because sometimes, like fireworks, even explosions are beautiful.

 

Text and Photo Copyright © 2017 Kelsey Gietl.