I just finished reading The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. A historical fiction, based on the real actions of Louise de Bettignies during World War I, The Alice Network is haunting and incredible. Unapologetic in its depiction of war and the suffering of occupied France, this book grips the reader from the first pages.
Louise de Bettignies, known as Lili in the book, was fearless and witty, quick and brave. Her network was one of the most efficient and effective operations in France. Operating in and around Lille, France, her network of informants could bring down new German fortified positions within days of their being established. The major information revelations in the book were pulled from real reports from de Bettignies. I don’t want to spoil major plot points, but this story had me reflecting whether I would have had the courage to do what these women did… Risking their lives to serve their country. The intimacy of their work, being close to information and power, knowing that getting caught would mean death but not necessarily a quick death. The solitude..the razor’s edge. The constant effort to remain hidden in plain sight. Perhaps my life situation now precludes me from truly knowing what I could do, and for that I am thankful. I hope I never have to know what I’m capable of but I do recognize the courage and sacrifice of women like Louise de Bettignies. Heroes, all. Lest we forget.