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Born in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1882 to immigrant parents, Frances Frankowski covets the life of her best friend, Rosalie Mendel, who has everything Fanny could wish for - money, parents who value education, and an effervescent and winning personality. When, at age 15, Rosalie decides they should run away to Chicago, Fanny jumps at the chance to escape her unexceptional life. But within a year, Rosalie commits an unforgivable betrayal, inciting Frances to strike out on her own.
Decades later the women reconnect in San Francisco and realize how widely their lives have diverged. While Rosalie is a housewife and mother, Frances works as a secretary for the Office of Naval Intelligence. There she is introduced to Ainslie Conway, an intelligence operator 10 years her junior. When it's arranged for Frances and Ainslie to marry and carry out a mission on the Galápagos Islands, the couple's identities - already hidden from each other - are further buried under their new cover stories. No longer a lonely spinster, Frances is about to begin the most fascinating and intrigue-filled years of her life.
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 enemies and from each other may be their undoing.
Drawing on the rich history of the early 20th century and set against a large, colorful canvas, Enchanted Islands boldly examines the complexity of female friendship, the universal pursuit of a place to call home, and the reverberations of secrets we keep from others and from ourselves.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Rebekah on 06-10-16
I wonder what Aunt Frances would think
I enjoyed the story. Had the real Frances and Ainslie Conway not been my great aunt and uncle, it would have been more enjoyable. While I never met them, they were also my Dad's godparents so I grew up hearing a lot about them. I hope that readers keep in mind that while Aunt Frances and Uncle Ainslie lived in the galapagos and wrote books about the experience, the rest of this novel is completely fiction. If you want to learn more about their lives read their novels, The Enchanted Islands and Return to the Island by Frances and Ainslie Conway.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By Laurie M on 06-25-18
Not exactly what I thought
I struggled to get into this book and almost abandoned it. I thought there was going to be more intrigue and war info, but it read like a simple life memoir. I read reviews and people seemed to really like it so I kept going. I can't say it really got much better for me. It was interesting, but it felt like I was watching a black and white movie of the era. Kind of like Casablanca. Not super exciting, but I learned some things.