Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

I'm about 2/3 through this one, and I'm not liking it much.  I certainly don't understand all of its glowing reviews.  None of the characters are very likable.  Charlotte, an American college coed, is dissatisfied with the results of the minimal search results for her French cousin who seems to have disappeared during WWII.  She comes upon the name of Eve, a female WWI spy, and she hires her to help launch her own search.  The story then diverges into alternating chapters of Eve's WWI story and Charlotte's post-WWII story.  

I've said it before, and I am saying it again: I do not like the use of divergent timelines as a literary device!  Neither do I like a writer who overuses stuttering spelled out in their writing.  It feels demeaning to people who actually struggle with speech fluency...especially when it is repeatedly mentioned how simple-minded other characters believe the stuttering character to be because of it.  
Edited to add:  The afterword indicates that the author's husband (who is a lifelong stutterer) encouraged her to write the spy's stutter and the underestimation of those she came in contact with, and he read and made suggestions along the way.  So my apologies for jumping to the conclusion it was somewhat superficial, as I'm now sure that in this case the author's motives were sincere.

Anyway, I am trying to finish this one.  I am speedily skimming the spy's chapters, maybe because I don't want to care too much about her when they get to the torture chapters, or maybe because it is just not that compelling.

In case I was unclear, I don't recommend this one.  I'm just happy I checked it out from the library instead purchasing it.


  1. I don't really recommend it but my dad often skips dialogue when reading and he says he is happy to do that and gets through a book more quickly. Seems odd to me because that is when the characters come alive. But in this case they haven't much life anyway! Ha.

    1. I think you may have mentioned that your dad skips dialog to me before. I'm going to have to give it a try one day. :) I also get tripped up by the pronunciation of foreign words, and this one has quite a few that I stumble over when reading. And then there is the town name of Lille and the person name Lili often mentioned in the same paragraphs. So much stopping and thinking, wait, what did that say?

  2. The speech thing would bother me too although I’m ok with divergent time lines. I’ve just finished The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley. It is one of a small series I think called the Seven Sisters. Set in Australia it chronicles the story of Kitty Mercer who marries into a wealthy pearling family and CeCe D’Apelise who is one of seven adopted sisters. CeCe is searching for her roots after the death of her adoptive father. It is a very good read ad I particularly enjoyed reading about the art of the Aboriginal people. If you can get ove the time thing you might enjoy this one!

    1. Hi, Catherine, hope you are on the mend!

      The author's afterword explained why she included the stutter (see my edit above). I read one of Lucinda Riley's books last year. I'll look into the Seven Sisters.


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