A NoveleBook - 2016 | First edition
9780385539074 electronic bk
From the critics
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Spoiler alert -- I wrote this so I'll be able to remember what the book is about months from now.
Frances and her one friend Rosalie are refugees, Frances poor and Rosalie seemingly well-off. It turns out that Rosalie "helps out" with the rent by sleeping with the landlord. The two women run away together. They love each other like sisters, but Rosalie sleeps with Frances's crush and so Frances runs away, again, to another city. Eventually, she meets Ainslie and falls sort of in love with him. He becomes a spy and he marries Frances as part of his cover. They set up housekeeping on a mostly-deserted island. A German couple are there as well, and they spy on each other. Meanwhile, Frances discovers Ainslie is gay, but they love each other anyway -- just not "that" way. Their post ends, they return to the US, and Frances serendipitously runs into Rosalie, whom she has missed terribly. They become friends again, but Rosalie is rich now and they do not have much in common and run in different circles. Ainslie's homosexuality gets found out by the Navy and they send him back to the island as a way of kindly getting rid of him, then discharge him. Eventually he dies and Rosalie's husband dies, then Rosalie and Frances move together into an old-folks home.
Supposedly, this story was based partly on a true story. I found the "marriage as cover" part a bit hard to buy, and it never was really explained or acknowledged as weird. The writing was an awkward mix of vintage (in keeping with the time period of the 1920's-40's) and modern. It was an easy read and I didn't have trouble finishing it, but I wouldn't recommend it.
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