Somewhere in France: A Novel of the Great War
Author: Jennifer Robson
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Historical Romance
Challenges: War Through the Generations
Synopsis: The year is 1914 and Lilly, or Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford wants to live her own life, marry someone she has chosen, and help with the war effort, but is continually stopped by her stuffy aristocratic mother. Eventually she breaks free, learning how to drive and then moving to London and finally working as an ambulance driver on the front in France
Thoughts: This was one of those books that once I picked it up I simply couldn't put it down. Although I could guess how it would end (see genre) I really couldn't begin to guess how they would get there.
Lilly is very naive and part of me always wonders how true this actually was of the aristocracy. Where their girls really as naive as they are painted in these books or is that a construction of our time? However with this book I am going to assume that it is true as the author holds a doctorate in social history (SHE apparently did not have P. for history in high school). The naivete works well in this story because the reader gets to learn alongside Lilly (I had no idea what a French Letter was either) and because you get to learn with her it does not become annoying that she does not know.
One of the aspects of the story that I found the most interesting is that Lilly and her friends worked as ambulance drivers and I was very happy to find a post from Smart Bitches Trashy Books about a female ambulance driver during WWI. I added quite a few books to my TBR pile from that post. Despite P's efforts during high school history social history is my favourite. I love learning about ordinary people's experiences during historical periods (my history shelves at home are filled with books about ordinary people).
I did feel that the ending was a bit rushed compared to some parts of the book. The training and Lilly's time in France dragged on at times while the ending was very much ...and they lived happily ever after THE END. It could of course be argued that the story that ends the story is really the beginning of the next book After the War is Over but I still feel that it could have been a bit more here.
Although I say that the time in France drags a bit, this isn't all bad, as a reader you really feel the sameness of the days, how the mud and death really start affecting people. I was very glad to be curled up in my nice warm dry bed when I read those sections. Although I've seen plenty of pictures and movies etc. of how it was, for me the words, and seeing women in these conditions made it even more real than it might have been before. I don't know what it says about me that I needed to see women in the conditions to make it more real, but...
I've chosen to include this book in my War Through the Generations as it very much deals with World War One.
Overall this is a book I would recommend to anyone who likes historical romances.
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