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A Perfect 10
William Morrow
ISBN: 9780062986184)
March 2023
Historical Fiction

Greece and Cuba - 1896 and 1898

Elizabeth (Betsy) Hayes  graduated from Smith College where she studied archaeology. She travels to Greece with the hopes of having the opportunity to participate in actual digs, but the archaeologist running the training program doesn't believe women have the stamina to excavate. Despite the support of Charles, French Baron de Robecourt, Betsy is stymied by the intransigence of the leader of the dig. However, all goes further awry when fighting breaks out between the Greeks and the Turks. Despite having little training in first aid, Betsy volunteers as a nurse for the Greek cause. There is nothing noble about what Betsy sees an d has to deal with in the uneven battle, including a disastrous shipboard event where it's painfully obvious that no one on board was prepared for the onslaught of wounded soldiers. It's a nightmare for the men, as well as for Betsy, and other medical personnel who are helpless to control things. 

From a wealthy New England family, Betsy has rarely had to worry about money. Her best friend at Smith, Ava, who struggled financially, and, despite her intention of becoming a doctor, has, instead, been a companion/nurse for a wealthy relative. Her arrival in Athens is thanks to Betsy footing the bill for Ava's transportation. But the war, and some of Betsy's questionable behavior, split the friends up.

Two years later,   a more mature and sober Betsy has arrived in Cuba along with Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders to protect the Cubans from the Spaniards. Betsy had heard that Ava was volunteering, and she wanted to stop her from going, however, it's Betsy who ends up on the island, and in the midst of yet another savage war. Memories of the war in Greece haunt Betsy, and she is determined to do what she can with the poorly thought out invasion by the Americans. 

TWO WARS AND A WEDDING is based on the real life story of an American woman, a graduate of Smith. Ms. Willig crafts a terrific tale using actual events, many real people who participated in these events, and news reports. Betsy grows into a tough, caring woman who fights for her patients, as well as for herself. The fictional characters are beautifully real, and the wrap up of the story is gratifying. Another excellent historical fiction presentation by Lauren Willig. Don't miss this book, and, if you haven't already read BAND OF SISTERS, do yourself a favor and do so.

Jani Brooks

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