Book Reviews: The Alice Network, American Dirt & The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Goodreads blurb: 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, code name Alice, 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: 3.5 out of 5. I think although i love a dual timeline dual women narrative (There have been a lot recently in my read pile) in this place i think it just made it a bit more tedious. I actually would have liked to hear more about Rose than Charlie and If this was called the Alice Network, why is it not about Alice, she seemed super interesting yet we don’t know where she came from. I would have much preferred a book about the Alice Network and not just about a member of it with their friends. Nonetheless it is a very good historical fiction read with some interesting twists that you really don’t see coming.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Goodreads Blurb: Lydia lives in Acapulco. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while cracks are beginning to show in Acapulco because of the cartels, Lydia’s life is, by and large, fairly comfortable. But after her husband’s tell-all profile of the newest drug lord is published, none of their lives will ever be the same. Forced to flee, Lydia and Luca find themselves joining the countless people trying to reach the United States. Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

My take: 4.5 out of 5. This book is outstanding. I cant believe I didn’t read it before. When it came out as Oprah’s book pick it had all the controversy surrounding it so i didn’t end up picking it up. But last year, when i had the call for book recommendations from friends, a friend but this forward. Im glad I gave it a second chance. I was enthralled and was walking around NY listening to the audiobook because I needed to know what happened! There’s so much to unpack in the book so much to think about and in the end it just another reason to be depressed about the state of our world, although its done in beautiful prose.

Side note: the cover does not make sense and I really do agree with the controversy surrounding it – I don’t even recall anything relevant with barbed wire?

The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan

Goodreads Blurb: After renowned fashion designer Cressida Westcott loses both her home and her design house in the London Blitz, she has nowhere to go but the family manor house she fled decades ago. Praying that her niece and nephew will be more hospitable than her brother had been, she arrives with nothing but the clothes she stands in, at a loss as to how to rebuild her business while staying in a quaint country village. Her niece, Violet Westcott, is thrilled that her famous aunt is coming to stay–the village has been interminably dull with all the men off fighting. But just as Cressida arrives, so does Violet’s conscription letter. It couldn’t have come at a worse time; how will she ever find a suitably aristocratic husband if she has to spend her days wearing a frumpy uniform and doing war work? Meanwhile, the local vicar’s daughter, Grace Carlisle, is trying in vain to repair her mother’s gown, her only chance of a white wedding. When Cressida Westcott appears at the local Sewing Circle meeting, Grace asks for her help–but Cressida has much more to teach the ladies than just simple sewing skills. Before long, Cressida’s spirit and ambition galvanizes the village group into action, and they find themselves mending wedding dresses not only for local brides, but for brides across the country. And as the women dedicate themselves to helping others celebrate love, they might even manage to find it for themselves.

This is an ARC review thanks to a gift from the publisher, the book comes out May 31st, 2022

My take: 4 out of 5. A charming historical fiction for fans of the Jan Austen Society and Call the Midwife. It was the same vibe. It also brought me back a little into one of my favorite series – The Friday Night Knitting Club, its just the Tuesday Sewing Circle Here. Is it a perfect book, no. It’s is predictable in so many ways but it is a great feel good story. And as predictable as the character developments and romances are (it all ties up into a too nice bow really) they are really sweet and you kind of fall in love with their stories. Also the fashion, the descriptions are so vivid that I could picture them perfectly in my head!

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