- Betsy and the Great World
- Betsy’s Wedding
I’m satisfied and a bit wistful at seeing the end of the Betsy-Tacy books.
Betsy and the Great World is by far my favorite of the series. I think it is accessible for someone that hasn’t read the other books– if you aren’t sure you want to read them all, I’d suggest starting here. If you fall in love with Betsy, then go back and fill in.
This book starts about three years after Betsy and Joe. A bout of appendicitis in freshman year throws Betsy off her stride, and she never really settles into college life. Her parents realize she isn’t getting what she needs to develop as a writer, and suggest taking a year to travel as an alternative. Betsy and Joe are no longer a couple, and she is really on her own as she sets off to Europe– not as part of a tour, but truly on her own.
None of the other characters of the series make more than brief appearances, and those are almost entirely in their letters or in Betsy’s head. Instead, we are introduced to the people and places that Betsy encounters as she travels around Europe.
Using Betsy’s eyes to see Europe and the people she meets was amazing. She is truly out of her element. Her first stop is Germany. She’s homesick, her contact has moved on, she can find only one other English speaker, and she finds she has forgotten the German she learned in high school. She still works on her writing, sees the sights, and makes friends. As she travels, she experiments with romance, using her experiences to understand her own heart.
The book takes place in 1914, and Europe is preparing for WWI. The beginning of the war forces Betsy to cut her trip short– or maybe end it just in time.
Reading Betsy’s Wedding was a very different experience. For most of the book, it felt like an extended epilogue to the series, nicely wrapping up the lives of the primary characters from the books. It was nice and cozy, but somehow the spark of Betsy taking on challenges wasn’t there as she settled into life as a wife.
This changes at the very end, as everyone faces the implications of America entering WWI.
In both books, I was fascinated by seeing this look at WWI from a much closer era– the books were written after WWII, so the author did have some benefit of hindsight, but it is still a different perspective.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned before how much I’ve enjoyed the introductions by various contemporary authors, and the end notes with historical and biographical notes. I particularly appreciate the notes in this volume.
I’ve now reviewed the entire series:
I know there are other related books, and I may track those down, just to be complete. What I really loved about these books was Betsy, and I just don’t know if they’ll be the same.
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me the Betsy-Tacy books to read and review! I had a wonderful time with them.