cover image Enchanted Islands

Enchanted Islands

Allison Amend. Doubleday/Talese, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-53906-7

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. (May)