A budding reporter gets more than he bargains for on a trip to reconnect with distant relatives in this dramatic look at the European homefront on the eve of World War I.
When Andy Bishop, Ohio native and Notre Dame graduate, journeys to Austria-Hungary in 1914, he finds an imperial society on the brink of violent change. He meets Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the stunning Maria von Montfort via his well-to-do relatives. Through the eyes of Maria’s philandering fiance, Johann, himself a vital part of the archduke’s security detail, readers take a ride on the ill-fated convoy that unknowingly drives the archduke to his death. The momentous event entwines the lives of Andy, Maria and Johann. Once war begins, Andy must decide whether to return to America or stay in Europe; remaining abroad would place him in peril, but it would afford him an ideal perspective to write with authority from the front lines. In this debut novel, Wagar guides readers through a meticulous examination of the events and emotions that affected the lives of Austrians at the beginning of last century. He presents a country filled both with the old ideals of a structured society and the new radical theories of socialism. With painstaking attention to detail in historical events, including the sinking of the Lusitania, Wagar occasionally allows facts to overwhelm the plot, which is a rather straightforward look at the effects of war on a love triangle. Overall, though, the novel delivers ample historical insight and high drama as its characters navigate the sobering world of an empire collapsing from within.
A satisfying mixture of history and romance.