cover image Two Wars and a Wedding

Two Wars and a Wedding

Lauren Willig. Morrow, $27.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-298618-4

Willig (Band of Sisters) delivers a winning epic of war and friendship in the late 19th century. The nonlinear timeline begins with Betsy Hayes, a Smith College graduate and aspiring archaeologist, boarding a boat for Cuba in 1898, determined to stop her estranged friend, Ava, from taking a dangerous nursing post during the Spanish American War. Betsy had already witnessed the horror of the Greco-Turkish War, and though the details don’t come out until later, Betsy believes her own life is of little value. In flashbacks to Athens, where Betsy had traveled two years earlier hoping to work on a dig, she meets Charles de Robecourt, a charming married archeologist who gives her a leg up (they also have an affair, and she falls in love with him). But Betsy’s choice to become a nurse when war breaks out in Greece drives a wedge between her and Ava, who doesn’t think Betsy is cut out for the work, and she faces further heartache involving Charles. Willig’s strong character work and extensive research on the Smith College Relief Unit brings Betsy to vivid life. The harrowing battle details, too, are spot on, from the Spaniards’ smokeless gunpowder to the menacing whine of a Mauser bullet. Readers will devour this riveting tale. (Mar.)