by Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin
With Elaine Marie Cooper’s new novel, Saratoga Letters, the reader gets two stories in one book. Normally, a time-slip novel has one story set in the past and the other in the present. This book presents a bit of a twist. Though they take place two hundred years apart—one in 1777 and the other in 1977—some might consider both stories historical.
In 1777, Abigail Gillingham, with her Patriot leanings, is kidnapped and forced by her loyalist uncle to work in a field hospital and nurse General Burgoyne’s British soldiers wounded in the battles near Saratoga. Though her father was a physician, Abby is hesitant to attend them. After all, they are the enemy. While at the camp, she meets two men—a wounded corporal and a surgeon’s aide. Although both develop feelings for her, she loves only one.
Two hundred years later, Abby Carpenter, a nurse from California, agrees to accompany her brother to Saratoga for the bi-centennial celebration of the battles that turned the Revolutionary War to the favor of the Americans. At the airport, she meets Ian Thacker, an appealing London police detective with a carousel full of emotional baggage.
From the first page, I was swept up in the action and found myself eager to return to the story when I had to put it down. Abigail’s portion shows the dreadfulness of war no matter which side you’re on, and that even enemy armies can be peopled with good individuals. While Abby’s story began with the same fascination and enjoyment, I felt it wasn’t as strong. Though it was still a page-turner, toward the end, Abby’s strength as a heroine faltered for me when she made a move I found both not endearing and a little contrived to make the climax work. However, I’ll admit I didn’t see the twist coming in that portion of the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed the way the war story affected the more modern tale and led to the ending. That part could have been written in an expected manner, except for another tiny twist that surprised me and had me smiling.
So if you enjoy time-slip novels with a good handle on history, give Saratoga Letters a read.
Side note: It was fun to revisit a modern decade when hotels actually used keys, not cards, and there was no such thing as a free breakfast! Are you old enough to remember that? 🙂