Title: Somewhere in France
Author: Jennifer Robson
First published December 31, 2013
373 pages, Paperback
ISBN: 9780062273451 (ISBN10: 0062273450)
In 1914, Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford desires to break free from the societal expectations of her aristocratic British upbringing. Her aspirations include exploring the world, pursuing a career, and marrying for love.
Unfortunately, her mother’s strict demands and restrictive society prevent her from following her heart. However, when World War I erupts, Lily seizes the opportunity to gain independence.
Defying her parents, she moves to London and becomes an ambulance driver in the newly-formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, a dangerous and thrilling job that takes her to the Western Front. Assigned to a field hospital in France, Lily reunites with Robert Fraser, her dear brother Edward’s best friend.
Robbie, a Scottish surgeon, has always supported Lily’s dreams. Despite the fact that Robbie grew up in poverty, Lily yearns for their friendship to blossom into something more.
Robbie, however, is fearful for Lily’s safety and determined to protect her, even if it means breaking her heart. Can hope for love survive in a world divided by class and filled with uncertainty and death, or will it become another tragic war casualty?
About the Author
Jennifer Robson’s interest in the Great War was sparked by her father, Stuart Robson, a well-known historian. Her passion for the subject led her to become an official guide at the Canadian National War Memorial located in France’s Vimy Ridge.
Jennifer is also a former copy editor, with a doctorate in British economic and social history from the University of Oxford. She currently resides in Toronto, Canada with her husband and young children.
Somewhere in France, by Jennifer Robson, is a compelling historical fiction novel that tells the tale of a young woman’s journey during World War I. Published on December 31, 2013, the novel takes readers back in time to explore the social and political climate of early-twentieth-century Europe.
Robson, an accomplished author, writes with a deft hand in a style that is both engaging and accessible. Her writing incorporates rich detail that immerses readers in the setting and historical context of the story.
She masterfully balances the themes of hope and despair, love and loss, while maintaining a firm grip on the intricate plot and character development. The novel’s protagonist, Lady Elizabeth (Lilly) Neville-Ashford, is a spirited young woman who defies societal norms by leaving her comfortable life behind to become a nurse on the Western Front.
Alongside Lilly, readers also meet her childhood friend, Robert, who is now a captain in the Royal Engineers, and her brother, Edward, an officer in the Grenadier Guards. Together, they navigate the devastating effects of war and the complex emotions that come with it.
Robson’s portrayal of the Great War, and of first-hand accounts of those involved, is a poignant and raw depiction of the profound impact that conflict has on individuals and societies. One of the great strengths of the novel is its historical accuracy.
Robson meticulously researched the events, culture, and attitudes of the time, which adds to the credibility of the story. Her interweaving of real-life characters, such as Winston Churchill, further enhances the novel’s authenticity, while also highlighting the importance of the war in shaping history.
However, the novel’s pacing, at times, can feel uneven. The opening of Somewhere in France is slow, and some readers may struggle to remain captivated during the first few chapters.
However, the story picks up the pace as the characters experience the tenacious grip of war, and readers become more invested in their journey. Despite this minor flaw, Jennifer Robson’s novel captivates readers with her vivid and profound retelling of World War I.
Somewhere in France appeals to fans of historical fiction and those interested in exploring the social and political significance of war on both individuals and history. Overall, Somewhere in France is an exceptional novel that offers a unique perspective on World War I.
This book is a must-read for those interested in exploring the human impact of historical events, and for anyone looking for a compelling story that blends fiction with factual accuracy. The Washington Post gives this book a high rating and recommends it to all lovers of historical fiction.