Looking for a fresh summer read that will transport you to another time and tropical place?
Today’s featured book is about life on and off of the Galapagos Islands in the build-up to Word War II. And bonus – it’s sort of, kind of based on a true story.
Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you click on them and choose to buy something, it won’t cost you anything, but I’ll get an itsy bitsy commission as a thank you for sharing something cool with you.
The book: Enchanted Islands
Written by: Allison Amend
Originally published: 2016
Frances and Ainslie Conway are real people who the author, after reading accounts of their somewhat mysterious time spent in the Galapagos Islands prior to World War II, was inspired to write this novel about. Though most of the story is entirely speculative, the time period and setting are well-researched and feel true to life.
Though this book doesn’t spend its entirety set in the tropics, the aspects of island living that it covers – the decision to move to an island, setting up a life with less on a rock, moving off an island and missing it terribly – will be incredibly relatable to all of you island souls who follow Women Who Live on Rocks.
I’ve included a couple of great island life quotes from the book below.
Born to immigrant parents in Minnesota just before the turn of the century, Frances Frankowski grew up coveting the life of her best friend, Rosalie Mendel. And yet, decades later, when the women reconnect in San Francisco, their lives have diverged. Rosalie is a housewife and mother, while Frances works for the Office of Naval Intelligence and has just been given a top-secret assignment: marry handsome spy Ainslie Conway and move to the Galápagos Islands to investigate the Germans living there in the build-up to World War II.
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 friends, from their enemies, and even from each other—may be their undoing. – via Amazon
Readers who will love this book:
Readers who judge books by their covers. Let’s be real – we all do it. The title and cover are often what first attract us to a book and this one has it all going on. From the moment I spotted it in a bookstore, I knew I’d be taking it with me. The artful cover delighted my coffee table with its tropical blooms and birds, so much so that I had a hard time filing it away on my bookshelf once I’d finished it.
Readers who enjoy books centered around enduring female friendships. While this book is about many things – an arranged marriage, life on an isolated island, spies and World War II – at its core, it’s a novel about two women and their lifelong friendship. I adored following Frances and Rosalie over the years and was particularly charmed by them as old ladies together.
Readers who dream of going back in time and living on their very own deserted island. Frances and her husband, Ainslie, were two of only a few humans who lived on the islands of Santiago and Floreana in the Galapagos Islands in the late ’30s – ’40s. Those of us residing on rocks now often complain about the challenges of living so remotely, but we’ve got nothing on their level of inaccessibility. As frustrating as it sounds to set up camp in the tropics with no running water or electricity, it also made me feel a bit envious of the adventure of it all – to move to an island you know nothing about and to explore it with fresh eyes, before your fellow humans have developed it in any way.
Have you picked up Enchanted Islands yet?
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If you’ve read the featured book too, be sure to leave a comment below or on our Facebook page – we can chat about it and it’ll be like our own island-style book club!
Looking for more Island Reads? Here are some others I’ve covered for you to check out:
If you’re a fellow island reader and would like to connect on all things books, you can find me on Goodreads. I even have a shelf of island-related books, which I plan to cover in future posts like this one.