Review

Alice in Exile: A Novel

by Piers Paul Read

On the eve of World War I at a party in Chelsea, young aristocrat Edward Cobb meets and falls in love with free-thinking liberal-minded suffragette Alice Fry. Educated at Eton and Oxford, this son of a baronet, who has just left the army to pursue a career in politics, has never met anyone like Alice. She speaks her mind, smells of cigars and doesn't mind making the first move. Despite their differences, Alice and Edward are smitten with each other and pursue a passionate affair much to the dismay of their friends and families.

When the couple becomes engaged, Edward's family draws the line and encourages him to consider his burgeoning political career and instead marry Elspeth, the far more suitable and proper young woman they have selected for him. Edward finally relents after Alice's father, a radical publisher, is taken to court for public obscenity after publishing an erotic sex manual. Heartbroken and pregnant, Alice accepts an offer to become a governess for a wealthy Russian baron and leaves the country.

When Alice's new employer, the charming and dashing Baron Rettenberg, discovers her pregnancy, he helps change her identity to conceal her shame and Alice becomes a French widow named Mademoiselle Chabon. Time passes and Alice and the baron tentatively begin to fall in love. But when the Russian Revolution forces Rettenberg to flee his manor, Alice is left alone to fend for herself and her young son. Not long after the baron's departure, Alice and her son find the danger too great and also escape.

Meanwhile, Edward's marriage to Elspeth falls apart and he sets forth in war torn Europe in search of Alice, whom he now believes to be the love of his life. In an exhilarating climax, Alice is forced to choose between the two men --- one is her first love and the father of her son, while the other is a man who loves her unconditionally but obsessively.

ALICE IN EXILE is a beautifully moving love story played out in a world ravaged by war. Meticulously researched and loaded with moral and emotional conflict, this story of lovers forced apart by differing social backgrounds and dire circumstances should appeal to fans of both the historical and the romantic.

Reviewed by Melissa Morgan on January 20, 2011

Alice in Exile: A Novel
by Piers Paul Read

  • Publication Date: March 9, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 0312325789
  • ISBN-13: 9780312325787