Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Review (& Blog Tour): Betsy's Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace

The tenth and final Betsy-Tacy book begins with Betsy's return from her travels in Europe as the first World War starts. Her ship is overcrowded, a very different experience from her trip over. But she is elated that Joe will be waiting for her at the dock in New York.

And waiting he is! He wants to make up for lost time and be married right away. Betsy travels back to her beloved family and friends in Minneapolis to break the news that Joe will follow her within a week and he doesn't want to wait for planning a wedding. Betsy despairs of getting her parents to agree, but Joe is persuasive. Before they know it they are man and wife, living in their own small apartment and socializing with "the Crowd," which hasn't really changed all that much since high school.

Like any newly married couple, there are adjustments to make for both of them, and a few hurdles, too. Betsy has never been very domestic and keeping house is a challenge. Even worse, she has no cooking skills! She sets out to be the best wife she can be, learning to cook as best she can, though she still puts aside time for her life's passion, writing. Soon, the outside world intrudes in the form of Joe's Aunt Ruth, and then the looming American involvement in the war becomes a certainty.

Maud Hart Lovelace

I have always been a reader, my entire life, for as long as I can remember. When I was in elementary school the school librarian would gently tease me when I came in: "Are you back again, haven't you already read everything we have?" My early favorites were indeed "Betsy books"...but they were a different series, written by Carolyn Haywood. I vaguely recall some confusion about some "other" Betsy books, but somehow I never got my hands on them.

Now, I can't believe that I missed them. I just read the entire series, all ten books, and I loved them. I can see why they are so beloved, spawning Betsy-Tacy Societies and clubs of grown women who just adore the books and the author, Maud Hart Lovelace. This series has taken its place with my other childhood favorites: the Little House books, the Anne of Green Gables books, the Narnia series. They are enchanting.

Betsy is, to this day and maybe even more importantly these days, a role model that any girl would profit from. She is smart, full of imagination, ambitious, honest, able to learn from her mistakes, a faithful friend, a loving sister (most of the time). It is truly astonishing that this character stands the test of time this way, but she is as refreshing and easy to relate to as she must have been in the 1940's when she first arrived on the scene.

All of the Betsy-Tacy books are more than a little autobiographical. Maud used her childhood, her family, her friends and her experiences to build the world in her stories. Most of the characters have real life counterparts and my favorite part of these books is the bit at the end that shows old photos of the real life people who inspired the characters.

There are some upcoming events celebrating the re-release of the Betsy-Tacy books:

10/23 Bainbridge Island, WA at the Library 11/7 Highland Village, TX Barnes and Noble
11/8 St. Paul, MN at the Red Balloon Bookshop
4/17/10 Dallas, TX, Dallas Heritage Museum

I received this book as part of a TLC Book Tour. For reviews of the other books in the series, and all the other tour stops, click here.


Book Club Girl said...

Carey, I love this review and I am so glad that you now know Betsy! Once you meet her, you're right, she takes her place alongside Anne and Laura! Great review!

Lucy said...

Oh dear- I don't know Betsy!! Looks like I'm really missing out. Great review - and I'm so curious now. Although I usually love books about the 18th c or earlier even,I'm becoming very interested in the '40's. Thanks for this review:)

Andrea said...

You know I've never read a Betsy-Tacey book even though my sister use to love them. Maybe I should rectify that.

MB said...

So glad you joined the legions of Betsy fans! I hope other people find and enjoy them, so they stay in print.

Anonymous said...

What a marvelous review! I'm a lifelong Betsy-Tacy fan, and hearing the words of someone who's just found these books brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for writing.

--Jen D-K

Anna said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed this one. I'm reading the first one now, and I'll be reading through book 5 for my tour stop next week. I'm really enjoying it, and it's reminding me of Anne of Green Gables and how the series follows her from childhood on up. Great review!

Diary of an Eccentric

Beth F said...

I too can't believe I missed these. I hope to get to them soon (well probably next year). They sound so wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I just finished writing my review of the last two books (I'll post it tomorrow) and came back to read yours :-).

I really loved the whole series of books, and this was such a nice ending for it.

Zibilee said...

How funny! I just picked up this book at random off of one of the tables in the bookstore and read a few pages last week. I think these books sound really good, but I know if I read one I will have to collect and read them all, so I have been waiting. I am so glad you enjoyed these books. Tell me, where should I begin with these books? I have heard so much about them, but don't know which is first in the series.

The Tome Traveller said...

Zibilee...The first one is Betsy & Tacy and I would start there. The girls meet when Tacy moves in across the street from Betsy and attends her birthday party...she is turning five. They are truly wonderful books and they get more complex and intersting as the girls grow up.

The neatest thing about them is that they are all based on Maud Hart Lovelace's childhood in Mankato, MN. The illustrators even received photos of the people that the characters are based on, when you compare some of the drawings to the photos you can see the likeness.

Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

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About Me

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.