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Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend

AmendThe focus of this intriguing novel is relationships, friendship, and survival – what it takes to maintain an enduring relationship and what is required to survive in difficult times and places. 

The book begins when octogenarians Frances Frankowski and Rosalie Mendler are residents ina care facility for seniors in California.Then the novel gives the backstories of their lives. Theygrew up as members of the small Jewish community in Duluth, Minnesota. Together, as teenagers, theyrunaway from home to work and live in Chicago. The pair remainedbest friends throughout their lives in spite of major disagreements, differences in lifestyle, and years in which they were separated. 

During the years she spent apart from Rosalie, and in her late 40’s, Frances meets Ainslie Conway. Ainslie is an intelligence operator, and Frances is a secretary of the Office of Naval Intelligence and11 years older. She becomes his wife so that they may go to the Galapagosas a married couple. Their secret mission, pre-WorldWar II, is as spies.

Enchanted Islands detailstheir relationship and their life on the islands. We read of all they must take with them and all they must do when living on the Galapagos to survive. The unique atmosphere and animals of the islands are a part of the book, although it is more about the relationships of the few people who live there. Survival is more than physical, as we learn of the intricacies of the married relationship of the Conways and the others with whom they interact. 

I do not want to give away anything, so, after praising the author’s style, her detailing of complex human relationships, and the beauty of the unique setting, I will leave you to the enchantment of the islands. This novel was inspired by the memoirs of Frances and Ainslie Conway.


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