If a novel ever needed an HEA, Lauren Willig’s prosaically-titled Two Wars and a Wedding does. A multi-hanky read, indeed. A historical saga and sweeping one at that (more sagas, please!): recounting a young woman’s journey from immature and impetuous to worn-down, guilt-ridden, and broken to strong, resolute, and happy across “two wars and a wedding”. And did it ever keep me reading, as steadily as Real Life would allow, over three days. To start, let’s fill in the war and wedding details with the publisher’s blurb:
September 1896: As an aspiring archaeologist, Smith College graduate Betsy Hayes travels to Athens, desperate to break into a very male-dominated field and find work at some of the world’s most famous excavation sites. In the midst of the heat and dust of Greece she finds an unlikely ally in philanthropist 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’s archaeological sites become battlefields and she falls into the grim and heroic task of nursing the wounded. As the world around her is irrevocably changed, Betsy finds her heart pulled in multiple directions.
June 1898: As the Spanish-American war begins, an older and wiser Betsy Hayes is searching for her former best friend Ava, who she last saw in Greece during the Greco-Turkish War. She believes that Ava might be with the Red Cross headed to Cuba, so Betsy herself joins the Red Cross and follows Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders straight to the heart of the fighting. As she enters the war zone, dark memories of her last war resurface and her need to protect old and new friends intensifies. (more…)