Last month I joined Book of the Month Club because I'm somewhat obsessed with subscription services and because BOOKS! My first selection was Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend, and I have to say, if my first book is an indication of each month's experiences, I'm sold.
Enchanted Islands tells a fictional story based on the real-life experiences of Frances Conway. This woman lived on the Galapagos Islands prior to World War II with her husband, Ainslie, and was thought to have served as a spy for our US government. Frances left memoirs about her life, on which Amend relied upon to craft this excellent telling of Frances' life story.
The book begins at a nursing home for Jewish people where Frances and her lifelong friend, Rosalie now live. From there, Frances flashes back and retells her life from childhood - when she first met Rosalie - until we circle back to the time where this book began. Though some may read the synopsis of the book and expect the book's focus to be on the love story of Frances and Ainslie, it's truly about the life of Frances and her friendship with Rosalie. Amend could have made this story drag on when you think of the years she spanned, but her writing style was flowing and I couldn't wait to pick up the book and read it to pick up where the adventurous story left off.
I enjoy stories set in the World War II era as my parents were married during that time and my Dad also served in the military as did Ainslie. Seeing the differences of that time from today, and the ironic similarities is something I enjoy reading about. I love a book when a character is compelling and Frances was just that. I loved her, felt sorry for her and admired her. Honestly, since she was a real person, I would loved to have had a conversation with her.
I give this book 5 stars. Great character development, interesting and engaging plot, and wonderful writing style. Definitely a winner.