Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Somewhere in France: A Novel of the Great War by Jennifer Robson

Somewhere in France: A Novel of the Great WarAs I read this, I was reminded of Downton Abbey, most probably because I recently caught season one. But this heroine, Lily, so reminds me of Sybil. Now, remember, I've only watched season one, but I see in this book and in that season of DA, the tiniest little crack between aristocracy and "the working class".

During this time period, the Great War, that crack came to be. Aristocrats such as Lily wanted to make a difference, realized how trivial and silly and spoiled their lives were. Some wanted to work. Lily is expected to marry well and as the Dowager on DA would say, "You cannot have opinions until you are married. Once you are married, your husband will tell you what your opinions are!" Or something like that. That's the kind of family Lily comes from and she rebels and she joins the WAACs and becomes an ambulance driver in France.

Not many young ladies would leave a life of kept luxury and wealth to drive a lorry or ambulance in a muddy war zone. I really liked and admired Lily as I read. I enjoyed reading every bit of her experience as she steps over that crack, ditches her title, lives on pennies, works for a bus line, interviews with the WAACs, helps train her comrades, goes to France. I enjoyed every moment. I enjoyed watching her realize all she'd taken for granted, the way she'd appreciate a hot bath, a cup of tea.

And yes, she has a romance with her brother's best friend, a doctor. This was...okay. I liked him at times; didn't like him at others. I became a tad uncomfortable when they hooked up in the room her missing brother paid for. It felt to me a highly inappropriate time for that. It did not feel as though they were coming together in grief. I certainly think a telegram would have sufficed.

I even liked their letters to and from each other. I thought it quite cute when even though they were stationed at the same place, he wanted a letter from her, as they weren't allowed to speak. This was a sweet romance.

I have to say, however, there was an odd disconnect of sorts with the war itself. I kept thinking of what all an ambulance driver during that time would see, the soldiers she may accidentally bond with, the pain she may feel upon their passing, and yet, there were no side stories involving these men. We didn't meet or get to know any wounded, which is odd as this is a hospital.

I'd have appreciated some stories involving the patients and soldiers. Her brother was a character, but we learned so little of what he was facing. Just brief snippets.

But all in all, I feel this was a fine piece of historical fiction. It drew me into the time period, made me think, and honors the women who served as ambulance drivers during this "Great" War. It's a also a wonderfully strong heroine who knows what she wants and obtains it and believes in duty.

I received an ARC of this via Edelweiss.


  1. I had forgotten about this book and now I want to read it! I have been looking for a book along the same lines which I read years ago and cannot now find. It's about a young British woman who volunteers to go to France at the end of WWI to drive lorries. She has a lovely romance with a French officer and there is a mesmerizing sequence about her designing a froth of a white dress to wear to a party. Have you come across this book? I would LOVE to find it again!

    1. I don't know, Mary, but I'm always seeking books like that. If I come across it, I'll be sure to let you know. I just checked my WWI shelf and don't see anything like that. It sounds awesome.

    2. Just came across this one: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12265635-the-promise

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