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Enchanted Islands: A Novel
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2016
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Description
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 fifteen, 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 ten 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 twentieth 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.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
05/24/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780385539074
ASIN:
B014NZ93QE
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Allison Amend. (2016). Enchanted Islands: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Allison Amend. 2016. Enchanted Islands: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Allison Amend, Enchanted Islands: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Allison Amend. Enchanted Islands: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
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Date Updated:
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      • bioText: Allison Amend, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' 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.
      • name: Allison Amend
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2016-05-24T00:00:00-04:00
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title
Enchanted Islands
fullDescription
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 fifteen, 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 ten 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 twentieth 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.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Laura van den Berg, author of Find Me
      • content: "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--not Gertrude Bell so much as Gertrude Stein. Darwin and Hitler also haunt Enchanted Islands. But the islands aren't enchanted so much as Conway is."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        March 28, 2016
        In Amend’s mesmerizing third novel, Frances Conway struggles through the lies of her life and marriage, where “the circles of deception were endless.” Frances’s childhood and adolescence are shaped by her friendship with Rosalie, but their close relationship is destroyed by a stunning betrayal. Years later in the 1930s, Frances is a 50-year-old secretary for the U.S. Navy in San Francisco. Bored and restless, Frances is persuaded to join in a marriage of convenience with a naval officer 11 years her junior, as a cover for an obscure intelligence operation on the Galapagos Islands just prior to World War II. Her new husband, Ainsley, is handsome and charming, but with disturbing secrets of his own. Their marriage is odd—they may be married, but they are not husband and wife. Their life on the Galapagos Islands is spartan, consisting of hard work in a harsh, beautiful environment, keeping an eye on the few Germans living there. Always watchful and wary, they make it through the war, but Ainsley’s secrets take a darker, more sinister turn. This is a taut, powerful tale of human relationships and the sacrifices people make to maintain their balance.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        March 15, 2016
        Secrets, lies, and spies on a faraway island. The real-life Frances and Ainslie Conway spent years before, during, and after World War II on the Galapagos Islands, recording their unusual adventure in two memoirs that have inspired Amend's (A Nearly Perfect Copy, 2013, etc.) pleasurable new novel. Her fictional Frances grows up in a Jewish immigrant family in turn-of-the-century Duluth, with a best friend, Rosalie, who is being sexually exploited and parents too poor even to let her finish high school. The two girls run away when they are 15, but their paths soon diverge: Rosalie eventually marries a rich man and becomes a socialite; Frances, after putting herself through college, ends up as a secretary in San Francisco, working for Navy Intelligence. One day, her boss presents her with "a strange proposition." It seems that one Ainslie Conway, a military man who "does some shadow work" for the Navy, is being assigned to "a rather remote post, and part of his cover," he tells Frances, "requires that he arrive with a wife." No explanation is provided for this requirement, but soon Frances, at 50, is married to the handsome, charming Ainslie, 11 years her junior. Although he sometimes stays out all night, although Frances notices lingering looks between him and other men, and although Ainslie takes three months to consummate their union, she fails to guess that he's gay until, on the island, she catches him kissing a man. "You'll wonder how I could have been so blind," she admits. But she realizes, too, that her love for him is "deeper than mere facts." On the island, the Conways are supposed to look out for German spies, but Amend portrays espionage as less challenging than the arduous struggles of daily life. Despite some improbable plot twists, appealing characters and vivid local color make for an entertaining read.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        April 15, 2016
        In a novel based on the real-life escapades of Frances and Ainslie Conway, Amend (A Nearly Perfect Copy, 2013) augments the couple's audacious adventures as American spies during WWII with the backstory of how a poor Jewish girl came to be involved in international espionage. Readers meet Franny Frankowski as a willful child in Depression-era Duluth who escapes her family's economic and moral tyranny by running off to Chicago with her best friend, the beautiful but flirtatious Rosalie Mendel. After they are torn apart by love and betrayal, Franny eventually makes her way to San Francisco, where she is recruited by U.S. Naval Intelligence for an unlikely assignment: the arranged marriage to an officer spying on German settlers of the Galapagos Islands. As a middle-aged woman resigned to spinsterhood, Franny accepts the chance to perhaps find the romance and adventure that always eluded her in Rosalie's company. 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.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        November 15, 2016

        Drawing on the memoir of Frances Conway, this fascinating and well-written fictionalized account follows the daughter of Jewish immigrants as she runs away as a teenager from Minnesota to Chicago and then on to Nebraska and San Francisco where she eventually lands a secretarial job working for Navy intelligence. There she marries an undercover officer and accompanies him on a secret mission to the Galapagos Islands to spy on the Germans at the brink of World War II. Readers will be tempted to read Conway's actual memoir to learn more about this intriguing couple, the enchanted setting, and extraordinary time.

        Read-Alikes Jillian Cantor's The Hours Count, Andrew Gross's The One Man, and Joseph Kanon's Leaving Berlin.

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        December 1, 2015

        Born to immigrant parents in 1882 Minnesota, Frances Frankowski ran away from home as a teenager and on the eve of World War II was working as a secretary for the Office of Naval Intelligence, where she met an operative named Ainslie Conway. Soon it was arranged for them to marry and head to the Galapagos Islands on a secret mission. Sami Rohr Prize finalist Amend based her new work on Frances Conway's memoirs.

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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shortDescription
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 fifteen, 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...
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