Review: TWO WARS AND A WEDDING by Lauren Willig
ABOUT THE BOOK
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig: a dramatic coming-of-age story with a dual timeline and a single heroine—a bold and adventuring young woman who finds herself caught up in two very different wars on both sides of the Atlantic.
September 1896: An aspiring archaeologist, Smith College graduate Betsy Hayes travels to Athens, desperate to break into the male-dominated field of excavation. In the midst of the heat and dust of Greece she finds an unlikely ally in Charles, Baron de Robecourt, one of the few men who takes her academic passion seriously. But when a simmering conflict between Greece and Turkey erupts into open warfare, Betsy throws herself into the conflict as a nurse, not knowing that the decision will change her life forever—and cause a deep and painful rift with her oldest friend, Ava.
June 1898: Betsy has sworn off war nursing—but when she gets the word that her estranged friend Ava is headed to Cuba with Clara Barton and the Red Cross to patch up the wounded in the Spanish-American War, Betsy determines to stop her the only way she knows how: by joining in her place. Battling heat, disease, and her own demons, Betsy follows Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders straight to the heart of the fighting, where she is forced to confront her greatest fears to save both old friends and new….
Set during an electrifying era of nation-building, idealism, and upheaval, Two Wars and a Wedding is the tale of two remarkable women striving to make their place in a man’s world—an unforgettable saga of friendship, love, and fighting for what is right.
Two Wars and a Wedding, a female centric and non-linear historical fiction, weaves an American woman’s point-of-view with Roosevelt’s Rough Rider Hold ‘em Holt in two settings: Greco-Turkish in 1896 and the Spanish-American War in 1898. As always, bestselling author Lauren Willig’s smart dialog, impeccable research, and phenomenal storytelling had me invested from the start. Willig painstakingly peels back the layers of Smith College graduate, archaeologist wanna-be turned nurse, Betsy Hayes, building her character arc and revealing the injured friendship with Ava Rutherford. The tension ramps up once Betsy finds a delirious, wounded Holt in her makeshift hospital.
And there she was again, that woman, that Miss Hayes, only this time she wasn’t clad in diaphanous white robes but in a none-too-clean white Libby over a blue dress with the Red Cross band on one sleeve. In the twilight, she seems to film over like hot breath on a cold window, shivering in and out of his vision, blurry around the edges, as if she were a ghost, as if she were that figure in the vibes, warning, warning…
“Look.” Holt turned to pull Paul’s arm, tried to point. “Look where she comes again again.”
“Oh, thank goodness,” Paul said, and dragged Holt forward toward the apparition. “It’s Betsy. Betsy! I’ve got a casualty for you!”
…And later, the novel becomes unputdownable, once the heartbreaking relationship with Charles de Robecourt, a married French archeologist, is fleshed out.
But that wasn’t the whole reason. Was it because to fall into a man’s bed once—well, several times on the space of one week—could be accounted as carelessness, but to do it again would be to form a practice? She loved Charles; she was in love with Charles. But to love someone and to be someone’s mistress were two very different things entirely. It was much easier to run about being noble and avoid the whole question.
With more than a nod to the real life story of American Harriet Boyd Hawes, Willig crafts an elegant tale using actual events, historical people, and factual news reports. Two Wars and a Wedding should not be missed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty works of historical fiction, including Band of Sisters, The Summer Country, The English Wife, the RITA Award-winning Pink Carnation series, and four novels co-written with Beatriz Williams and Karen White. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages, picked for Book of the Month Club, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best, and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction. An alumna of Yale University, she has a graduate degree in history from Harvard and a JD from Harvard Law School. She lives in New York City with her husband, two young children, and vast quantities of coffee.