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Publisher's Summary

Inspired by the midcentury memoirs of Frances Conway, Enchanted Islands is the dazzling story of an independent American woman whose path takes her far from her native Minnesota when she and her husband, an undercover intelligence officer, are sent to the Galápagos Islands at the brink of World War II.

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.

©2016 Allison Amend (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible characters and captivating storyline

I listened to this book almost nonstop since downloading it the other day. Amend's attention to detail in building characters allows the reader/listener to become attached to their plight. The performance by Dina Pearlman gives the main character the depth that she deserves. Fantastic listen!!!

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  • Sandra
  • Edwards, Colombia
  • 07-18-16

Extremely well written

The story flowed beautifully, The characters very interesting and well developed. I will miss being in their lives! Especially loved the lasting friendship, nothing better than close girlfriends!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful