Read Review

An enchanting read!
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It’s now January, and we’re in the throes of winter. As the grey firmly sets in outside, I cannot help but dream of palm trees and white, sandy beaches. Enchanted Islands by Alison Amend is exactly the sort of novel you need as the thermometer hovers in teens. Based on the remarkable memoirs of Frances Conway, Amend has crafted a lyrical story that traipses from Duluth, Minnesota to the golden coast of San Francisco and even further out to the mystical Galapagos Islands.

We follow Frances as she grows up in the Midwest with her best friend, Rosalie, before the two girls’ lives take startling different paths. Rosalie becomes a socialite, while Frances takes a job working for Navy Intelligence as secretary in California. One day, at the age of 50, in the midst of WWII, Frances finds herself assigned to a new mission: marry Ainslie Conway – one of the Navy’s intelligence officers – and move to the Galapagos as his wife to spy on the Germans. Which sounds crazy, except for the fact that it really happened: the real Frances did marry Ainslie and move to the Galapagos, all on orders from the U.S. Navy. A completely incongruous couple, Frances and Ainslie settle (somewhat) into their life together.

Granted, Amend has taken liberties with the historical accuracy of the story, but it makes for a compelling read. The meat of the story is really Frances and Rosalie’s relationship, but I loved that Amend allows the Galapagos a life of its own, making it a central character in and of itself. Readalikes include The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, a beautiful historical fiction about a strong women that centers around nature, and Modern Lovers by Emma Straub, for its depiction of fierce female friendship.

 
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
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