Some descriptions might lead you to believe this book is about a marriage between spies, but really it's about a lifelong friendship shared by two very different women, Frances and Rosalie. The facts that Frances eventually becomes a spy, enters into a marriage arranged by the US government, and lives in the Galapagos Islands for months in primitive conditions are, surprisingly enough, not the most important plot points.
And it works out that Frances and Rosalie's friendship is the axis on which the novel revolves, because the dynamic between them is complicated and constantly changing. Frances is sheltered, naïve, dying to get out on her own and away from her controlling family. Rosalie is more worldly than she should be, with secrets that take Frances years to uncover. As they age, their bond remains steely despite the secrets they keep from each other.
Less interesting, sadly, is the relationship between Frances and her husband, Ainslie. They reminded me of Alma and Ambrose from Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things, their fundamental incompatibility an insurmountable hurdle to intimacy. I can't put my finger on why, exactly, but I don't really care to read any more books featuring sexually frustrated perimenopausal women trying to make it with men who aren't into them that way. Oh right, because romance. I need it in my life, man.
With regards to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for the advance copy. On sale today, May 24!