Somewhere in France (The Great War #1) by Jennifer Robson
Publication Date: December 31st, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Historical Fiction
Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford wants to travel the world, pursue a career, and marry for love. But in 1914, the stifling restrictions of aristocratic British society and her mother’s rigid expectations forbid Lily from following her heart. When war breaks out, the spirited young woman seizes her chance for independence. Defying her parents, she moves to London and eventually becomes an ambulance driver in the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps—an exciting and treacherous job that takes her close to the Western Front.
Assigned to a field hospital in France, Lily is reunited with Robert Fraser, her dear brother Edward’s best friend. The handsome Scottish surgeon has always encouraged Lily’s dreams. She doesn’t care that Robbie grew up in poverty—she yearns for their friendly affection to become something more. Lily is the most beautiful—and forbidden—woman Robbie has ever known. Fearful for her life, he’s determined to keep her safe, even if it means breaking her heart.
In a world divided by class, filled with uncertainty and death, can their hope for love survive. . . or will it become another casualty of this tragic war?
I had been putting this book off for a while because it had so much love from it’s readers that I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype. Now I am kicking myself for waiting to read it for so long!
I absolutely adored this book. I loved the setting. I loved the characters. I loved the strength and vulnerability… it was just so well done all around. I was even able to overlook that a few of my least favourite tropes were used. Heck, Robson managed to make me actually LIKE those tropes and made them make sense. One of which being the classic “White Fang” wherein you push one person away in order to protect them. This can be done poorly but Robson made it work.
We enter the story very quickly and are introduced to our two main characters, Lily and Robbie, pretty much immediately. Their romance is truly the beating heart of this story. It’s one of those written relationships that just takes my breath away. On the page it may seem like things happen too quickly but in the scope of time that Somewhere in France takes place, it was actually very nicely drawn out. I loved that there was a familiarity to Lily and Robbie since they had known each other as kids and I think that lends itself more to the believability of the relationship.
In all honesty, Lily carried this book. As she very well should seeing as she is our MC. But her strength, gumption, bravery, sticktoitiveness, passion and beliefs brought me right alongside her as she defied her family and joined the war effort. I was worried that she would be a spoiled character who made the choice to aid in the war but complained for most of it but instead she was stoic though everything.
Something I was not expecting was the dual perspective that was given. I really appreciated this added touch with giving Robbie a POV. I don’t think this would have been the same without it. I also don’t think I would have enjoyed the tropes I usually dislike if not for his POV.
Robson is masterful in her storytelling. She understands proper use of time jumps and which moments to sit in, which to flash to and where to take them. In a book that covers this kind of timespan, you can easily get lost in it but Robson manages to keep a great pace. She even manages to add in correspondence that aids in showing the passage of time as well as condensing the narratives of the characters in the perfect spots.
Upon starting Somewhere in France, I was not sure if I would end the book happy, sad, heartbroken, elated, giddy, depressed… it truly felt like all of these emotions were possible. Yet, for all of my gushing about this story, there were still some things that deter me from giving it a full 5-stars but honestly it is SO CLOSE. I would even go so far as to say a 4.75*.
Something I know for certain is that Jennifer Robson has quickly moved into being one of my new must-read authors and now I have to start amassing a collection of her books to consume them all.