Thank you thrift store for giving me one of the longest SVH books ever!
1866 in Wakefield, England.
Theodore Wakefield is out riding around England with his older brother James and James's fiance Katerina. As James will inherit their father's manor, estate, and political position, their father arranged the marriage. After snapping at him for ignoring the girl, the two fight. James rides off on a wild horse that bucks and throws him.
At his funeral, Mr. Wakefield reveals that it will now all go to Theodore, including Katerina, who he thinks of as a little sister. She comes to him and tells him that she feels the same way and that he needs to make his own destiny. Theodore tries to tell his father how he feels, and the man disowns him. His mom manages to give him something before he runs off on his horse to sell everything he has and board a boat for America.
Not long after getting on the ship, he sees a beautiful woman in a blue dress. When a little boy falls overboard, she jumps into save him and Theodore follows. They start dating/courting, and he gives Alice Larsen a carved wood rose he made for her. For some reason, I thought that was what his mom gave him, but he says he carved it on the ship.
Anyway, Theodore knows deep down that she is the woman he is supposed to spend the rest of his life with and starts making plans for once they reach New York. Unfortunately for him, the officials suspect him of having typhoid and quarantine him once he arrives. Once he gets out, there's no sign of Alice. Saddened, he buys a ticket that will take him as far as he can go, which is Cleveland.
1884 in Pine Bluff, Illinois.
Now going by the name the Magnificent Theo W., Theodore works as a horse trainer with a traveling circus. There, he meets Dancing Wind, a Native American girl who was taken in by a family of traveling acrobats after her own parents did. She helps him with his horses, and the two get closer. They nearly kiss before her new mom calls her in for the night.
1884 in Prairie Lakes, Minnesota.
Dancing Wind decides to ask Laura the Lovely for help winning Theo's heart and accidentally runs into a little girl named Jessamyn. Theo helps her and realizes that she's the daughter of his Alice. He tells Dancing Wind that even if Alice is now married, he wants her back.
While doing her trapeze act, Dancing Wind realizes that Theo isn't even watching her and decides to do something a little more dangerous. She slips, falls, and crashes through the safety net. He stops looking for Alice and rushes to her side, finally realizing that she is the right woman for him. He even proposes to her and kisses her when she recovers, but he lets her know that the doctor said she would never heal properly and can no longer be in the circus. Dancing Wind goes with him to the train and tells him that she's going to California to be with her mother's people. Theo grabs his things, jumps off the train, and proposes to her again, so they decide to get married.
1888 in Cottonwood Creek, Nebraska.
The couple are now living in Nebraska of all places, when Dancing Wind learns that she's pregnant. Rather than being excited, Theo only thinks about how weak she is and her poor health. You know this won't end well. When she goes into labor, she tries to go it alone but things turn bad and Theo runs for a doctor.
Dancing Wind gives birth to a little boy and then, surprise! A second baby comes. She manages to have them both, but the doctor warns Theo to call for him if it looks like she's about to "fail." That's not a good word. Theo wants to give them Native American names, but she demands that they have good Wakefield names, i.e. James and Sarah. She holds them for like three seconds before dying.
1905 in Vista, California.
Sarah, named for her grandmother, is now a teenager and the light of her dad's eye. Theo now owns a large farm named Manor Farm and hires local boys to pick his fruit. While reading and writing a story, she feels cherries dropping from the sky and looks up to find this hottie named Edward. He agrees with her about "racy" topics like how women deserve the right to vote and offers to meet her later in the day.
A few months later, Sarah and Edward have been meeting in secret. Since he wants to announce his intentions to her dad, she plans a special meal for them. Theo is polite but distant, and after Edward leaves, he lets her know that this isn't the kind of boy she should marry. He pushes her to marry a rich and snobby Bruce Patman type kid from the only family in town with a car.
When Edward gives Sarah a ring, she knows that he's the only one she wants. A few weeks later, a storm comes through town. Theo and James leave the weak little girl outside and take care of the new seedlings on their own. The next day, Sarah wakes up with influenza, and James has it too. While she recovers, James passes away after asking her to read him a story. As Sarah comforts her dad, she wonders if she'll ever get the chance to be with Edward.
1906 in Vista, California.
Sarah comes home to find that her father read her journal and learned of her relationship. He gives her two options: end things with Edward and let him set up a new husband or leave his home. Later that night, she sneaks out and sees him watching her. When he doesn't say a word, she runs to Edward's house.
After telling him what happened, they decide to elope to San Francisco. They check into a hotel and make plans to go to a justice of the peace, but then the big earthquake hits. When they find themselves trapped in their room, they hold a cute little commitment ceremony and wind up in bed together. Rescue workers later arrive and help them out, but then Edward agrees to go back and help them. While trying to save a little boy, he falls from a building and dies. Damn, there's a lot of dead peeps in this book.
Sarah gets a ride back to Vista with his parents after they come to pick up his body. Theo sees her, cries, and apologizes. Word spreads around town that they two eloped together. Sarah starts getting sick first thing in the morning and can't hold down food. Uh-oh spaghetti-o. Yup, you guessed it, she's preggers. Things are fine until she tells her dad that they weren't actually married. I guess it was too hard to say that the marriage license was lost in an earthquake that wiped out almost an entire city. Theo is so mad that he sends her to another town to have the baby and tells everyone that she had some kind of a breakdown.
1907 in Mendocino, California.
Sarah now has a little baby named Teddy, short for Edward. Theodore comes to see her, after sending her money throughout her pregnancy. Once he arrives though, he tells her that she has to put the baby up for adoption and come home. When she refuses, he agrees to keep sending her money as long as she never comes home. Sarah refuses again and tells him that it's all or nothing. Theodore leaves and tells her that she no longer has a home. I guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, eh Theodore? Sarah then decides that being illegitimate is so terrible that she'll raise him as his aunt and not his mother. Once again, it's not like someone can look up a marriage certificate on the Internet!
"Aunt" Sarah and Ted are now living in Chicago. He works as a paperboy and plans to go to college in Ohio, but everything changes when he meets the daughter of a locally known jazz musician. After she encourages him to write, he gets a job working for a pretty big newspaper. The same girl later suggests that he skip college in lieu of working at the paper. Hey, if you can get a journalism job with no experience or education, I say go for it.
The only problem is that Sarah works multiple jobs just to put money in his college fund and expects him to go to school. He comes home one day and finds her sitting on the couch in stunned silence with a letter in her hands. Her father died and left everything to her and her son. She finally confesses and tells Ted the truth about his parents. When he learns he was illegitimate, he immediately packs his bags and runs away to college. Hm, for someone who drinks and hangs out in jazz clubs, he sure is a square.
1925 in Rosse, Ohio.
Ted is now in college and writing for two major city newspapers but only making enough to pay for school. He and his mother made up and now have a good relationship, and he has a best friend named Harry. Harry shows him a picture of his sister Samantha and tells him about her and her twin Amanda. Ted salivates over the picture and plans to see her when he goes home with Harry for Christmas.
Cut to a few months later. Ted is now writing to Amanda and thinks back to how their relationship started. We know all this from the last book, but it ticks me off that he spends a few pages talking about Sam and fantasizing about her and now is suddenly in love with her twin. He briefly thinks about how he lied to everyone when he ran into a jazz musician he once knew.
1926 in Detroit.
After stopping by Detroit to see Amanda, Ted learned that she never told her family he was coming and that her parents didn't know about their relationship. Samantha took him for a drive and put the moves on her, getting pissed when he rejected her advances. Amanda came by later that night and told him that his musician friend needed his help.
The cops pulled them over and said that Amanda called in a tip about how he was bootlegger. Still thinking it was Amanda, Ted realized she set him up when the cops found dozens of liquor bottles in his trunk. They eventually let him go for lack of evidence. After going home to Chicago and reading Dancing Wind's journal, he decided that he needed to go west on his own.
1926 in Swift River, Oregon.
Ted finds his way to Oregon, which is where his grandmother's tribe went. He finds a place to stay, locates the tribe, and finds Ten Horses, the tribe leader. Ten Horses knows all about Dancing Wind, gives him some information, and then introduces him to Julia. She's a gorgeous woman writing a story about the tribe.
It turns out that after the government forced the tribe out of California that they went to Oregon. Now, the local government claims that the treaty given them a bunch of land disappeared. They raised money to send Ten Horses to Washington DC, only to learn that the federal government doesn't have one either. They trick the local guy into handing over his copy and run off together.
Julia then invited Ted to come with her to Washington DC to see some friends of her parents. Though she wants to get closer, he pushes her off. Ted finally tells her all about Amanda, which leads to them kissing. Julia thinks they are now together until he tells her that he doesn't want a relationship with anyone else. When he finally tells her that he plans on leaving town, she tells him that not all love is like what he had with Amanda and that maybe they could have something different. Even though he literally spent a chapter worrying that he could never love anyone, now he's totes fine.
1927 in New York.
Ted and Julia are now married and looking for a new apartment in New York City. They're both writing for the paper, though I don't believe that women really wrote for major papers back then. While looking at a small room in an apartment, Julia tells him that she's pregnant. Then we jump to months later after she gives birth to a son named Robert. Ted sees a story in the newspaper about Samantha's death and briefly wonders about Amanda.
1937 in New York.
Julia is way ahead of the times. Not only does she have her own column in a major NYC paper, but she also hyphenated her name and her husband's name. She rushes home to tell her husband and son that she just got assigned to Berlin to cover the Hitler story. Ted is more than a little worried, especially after she reveals that she might get a longer assignment than one simple story.
All the letters she writes home have enough information to get the US involved, including details about work camps that I'm pretty sure Americans didn't know about in the 1930s. Her later letters get censored by German authorities, which keeps Ted from reading everything. The day that she's due to arrive home, he takes Robert to watch the Hindenburg land. Uh-oh. They get there in time to see it burst into flames. We then cut to Ted reading her journal about what she saw overseas and comforting Robert when he has nightmares about her death.
1943 in New York.
Robert is now 16 and lies about his age to enlist in the Navy. Ted is naturally not too happy about this. He almost cries when he talks about how Robert was the only thing that kept him going after Julia died. Since this book isn't realistic at all, he ships out the next morning before going overseas. Ted apologizes to him before he leaves and gives him his grandfather's ring.
1943 in the South Pacific.
Robert gets a pretty big assignment right out of the gate. A group of nurses and assistants were captured, and one goes by the name Pacific Star. They put Robert in charge of talking with her and gathering information from her. Pacific Star is really California girl Hannah Weiss. She sneaks off on the one day of the week when the Japanese let them wash their clothes to send her transmissions. Robert and she talk for a few moments and learn that both lied about their ages to enlist.
1944 in the South Pacific.
Hannah and Robert talked for a few months before cutting off communications due to the Japanese banning her from going outside. They eventually let them out again, and she somehow gets in touch with him again. Ugh, this section of the book is such a pain. After the Japanese force them into the woods and retreat, Marines rescue the women. Hannah finally gets to meet Robert in person and at the end of their first date, he proposes and suggests they ask his captain to marry them. The ghostwriter makes a big deal out of how they knew each other for a year and a half, but they actually only talked for less than a year of that and just met in person three hours ago or something. Oh and Hannah is Jewish, which means the twins are too.
Sweet Valley, No Date.
Hannah and Robert are chilling with their families and their new son Ed. Here's some new info on the Wakefield family, other than them being Jewish. Ned has an uncle named Sam (Hannah's brother) and an aunt Ruth (her sister-in-law). Hannah lost two of her cousins in concentration camps too. You would think this would have come up at some point in one of the other series. He also has a cousin Rachel who is around the same age as him.
Not family related, but Robert takes classes at the College of Southern California, which is nearby. Hm, I wonder if this is Sweet Valley College, which was mentioned multiple times in SVH, or Sweet Valley University.
Early 1960s in Sweet Valley.
Good old Hank Patman is hanging around and hitting on Ned's cousin Rachel repeatedly. Not only does she not like him, but she doesn't even know why he bothers her since she constantly tells him that. He takes the time to make a rude comment about Ned and her friend Seth before finally leaving. This lets them go surfing, which is odd because I can't remember Ned ever mentioning that he surfed, not even when his kids do.
He meets a guy named Salvador. Salvador is the son of migrant workers and doesn't go to school because he's too busy working. Ned is absolutely adamant that migrant workers go to school. Robert tells him that the city actually forbids it because migrant workers don't pay taxes. He decides to start a petition to give all kids the right to education but he needs the support of the student council. Ned and his friends all veto it.
Later in the 1960s at the College of Southern California.
Well, I guess I answered my own question. CSC, which is where Ned and Alice go, is apparently SVU. It makes me wonder what happened to SVC. I'm pretty sure it was mentioned as where Steven went early on, but I know it was mentioned after he was suddenly at SVU. Hm, maybe it fell into a sinkhole.
Rachel is hanging out with her roommates and sewing patches on her jeans when this chick Becky stops by to tell them all that her name is now Rainbow. She's obsessed with Ned and shows up wearing a peasant shirt, long dress, and a bunch of beads to announce that she started some new protest group on campus. Ned suddenly thinks that she's amazing and they're together all the time.
Rainbow tells Rachel that she plans on graduating from the top law school in the country and wants Ned because he can help her with her assignments and ensure she graduate at the top of her class. Rachel tries to tell Ned who won't listen. Ned and Rainbow go to a new protest. They get arrested Rainbow freaks out, and demands that they call her dad who is some prominent judge. The judge shows up and escorts her home, but not before Ned wonders what happened to her and she tells him that he saw what he wanted to see in her.
Later in the 1960s, still at college.
Rachel is back after spending a year working in Vienna, where she met a guy. Now that she's home, she wonders why Ned just can't settle down or at least date someone. She shouldn't worry though. While on the beach, Ned sees a woman swim too far out and start drowning. He rescues her and learns that her name is Alice. Just then, Hank Patman comes up. He kind of pretends that he doesn't know Ned before leaving with Alice.
Ned sees Alice on campus a few times and can't get her out of his mind. Rachel finally tells him to bite the bullet and ask her out, even though everyone knows she's with Hank. That's how Ned learns that she's engaged to Hank. Rachel starts to say something and changes her mind, but she thinks to herself that Hank seems to be manipulating Alice in the same way that Becky did Ned.
Turning to his father for help, he learns that tragedy always seems to happen to the men in his family. Robert writes him a huge check as a graduation present and tells him to do whatever he wants with it. Robert also kind of says that the men in their family tend to lose the person they really want and wind up with someone else.
Ned goes home to mope and hears someone calling his name. It's Alice fresh from leaving Hank at the alter. After making out a little, he tells her that he'll never stop needing her. Except for that pesky time when they wind up separated and he lives across town. Also, it's a little creepy for him to say that when they've only had like three conversations.
Later in Sweet Valley.
Ned and Alice get married. After the wedding, as they get ready to go on their honeymoon, she sees an intricate ring on his finger. It reminds her of something, so she pulls out a carved wood rose that belonged to her namesake. Ned wonders if she was Ted's Alice before her sisters run into the room.
Ned comes home to tell Alice about how he just made partner at his firm. They play around with Steven until Alice reveals that she's now pregnant. They both hope for a little girl, and she hopes her daughter will take after the women in her family. Ned points out the great women in his family, which leads to a cutesy fight. The book ends with a cloyingly sentence about how the future of the Wakefield family looks golden. Gag me.
*No special comments on this one, but I will say that there were way too many deaths!