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Born to immigrant parents in Minnesota just before the turn of the century, Frances Frankowski grew up coveting the life of her best friend, Rosalie Mendel. And yet, decades later, when the women reconnect in San Francisco, their lives have diverged. Rosalie is a housewife and mother, while Frances works for the Office of Naval Intelligence and has just been given a top-secret assignment: marry handsome spy Ainslie Conway and move to the Galápagos Islands to investigate the Germans living there in the build-up to World War II.
Amid active volcanoes, forbidding wildlife and flora, and unfriendly neighbors, Ainslie and Frances carve out a life for themselves. But the secrets they harbor—from their friends, from their enemies, and even from each other—may be their undoing.
About the Author
Allison Amend, a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, is the author of the novels A Nearly Perfect Copy and Stations West, which was a finalist for the 2011 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the Oklahoma Book Award. She is also the author of the Independent Publisher's Award-winning short story collection Things That Pass for Love. She lives in New York City where she teaches creative writing.
“Enchanted Islands is a many faceted jewel. It’s a spy thriller, a survivalist memoir, and a portrait of a marriage. . . . Fabulous…. Will carry you away.” —Chicago Tribune
“An endearing chronicle of female friendship.” —The New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice
“A vivid picture of a woman surviving in a place where friends and enemies alike can both enthrall and harm. The result is beautiful, terrifying, and haunting, a deeply moving lovechild between Elena Ferrante and John Le Carré.” —Chicago Review of Books
“Steeped in the wondrous history of the Galápagos and bursting with the magic of pure invention. An elegant stylist and a masterful chronicler of the most hidden and luminous corners of the human experience, Amend is a spectacular talent.” —Laura van den Berg, author of Find Me
“A fascinating rumination on identity, friendship and love . . . [Amend] vividly evokes Duluth’s bleakness, Chicago’s sparkling bustle, rural Nebraska’s quietude and San Francisco’s sophistication. Most enticing of all is the otherworldliness of the Galápagos.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Dazzling.” —Travel + Leisure
“Amend’s novel manages to encompass a woman’s life, the story of a marriage, a tense standoff between Allied and Axis operatives, and a sensitive examination of women’s friendship.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Allison Amend is a wonderful writer—generous and psychologically astute—and Enchanted Islands is both a sweeping epic and a moving exploration of the intricacies of friendship. This is a beautiful novel that will stay with me for a long time.” —Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans
“Absorbing. . . . Amend’s spirited rendition of [Frances Conway’s] life reads less like a memoir and more like Jane Austen. It has acute interpersonal observations and subjective flights of fancy.” —BookPage
“In Enchanted Islands, Allison Amend distills the entire life of Frances Conway—one of, if not the, most fully realized characters I’ve encountered in the last decade—into a captivating narrative. . . . Brilliant.” —Jill Alexander Essbaum, New York Times bestselling author of Hausfrau
“Mesmerizing and captivating. . . . The kind of book that will make you want to renew your passport” —Bustle
“Secrets, lies, and spies on a faraway island. . . . Appealing characters and vivid local color make for an entertaining read.” —Kirkus Reviews
“In this shrewdly textured yet directly told tale of an unorthodox life, Amend fills Franny’s worlds of poverty, intrigue, and indignant old age with rewarding vibrancy and touching vulnerability.” —Booklist
“A taut, powerful tale of human relationships and the sacrifices people make to maintain their balance.” —Publishers Weekly
“In this compulsively readable novel, exotic locales and international espionage bend before the greatest intrigue of all: the life of a captivating mind. . . . Enchanted Islands is as moving as it is impossible to put down.” —Matthew Thomas, New York Times-bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves