Saturday, March 29, 2014

Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson

Somewhere in France

by Jennifer Robson

Publisher:  William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication date:  December 31, 2013
ISBN:  978-0062273451
Genre:  historical fiction
Book Synopsis:  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?
My Thoughts:  It really surprises me that this is a debut novel.  The author is very skilled at including the historical details without allowing it to become dull and boring.  I was immediately drawn in, not wanting to put it down. I think the idea of the forbidden romance was the lure.  The blurb on the front cover claiming a similarity to Downton Abbey helped too.

I really enjoy reading about this era and the hierarchy of the society.  A high-society girl defying her parents in search of something more.  Having all the money at her fingertips was not enough. Lily wanted to taker her part and felt it her duty to do something in this time of war.  She was not satisfied staying at home being told what she was not allowed to do.  She did not want to have and arranged marriage to someone she did not love.  What a wonderful character!  She gave up the world to seek her dreams.

Although Lily holds onto and follows her desires, the author was adept at showing the changes and growth in this character.  She provided a nice cast of supporting characters that allowed Lily to be herself and be comfortable in her ever changing world - going from having everything to nothing - and back again.

I really respect the control that Robbie shows throughout the novel.  For the most part, he is the underdog - coming from the lower class - not of the same world as Lily.  The only reason the even crossed paths was because he was the best friend of her brother, Edward.  Lily's mother disapproved of the friendship between Edward and Robbie, and even more so of any relationship between Lily and Robbie.  Robbie, now a surgeon, does his best to distance himself from Lily, but finds he cannot get her off his mind.  It becomes even more difficult when she is working right under his nose, at the same hospital.  He spends his days worrying about her safety.

This book was an easy read; not too complex with al the historical information, but straightforward and casual in its approach.  If you enjoy historical fiction, you will definitely find this book worth the read.  I excitedly await the follow-up coming next year (2015).
About the Author:  Jennifer Robson first learned about the Great War from her father, acclaimed historian Stuart Robson, and later served as an official guide at the Canadian National War Memorial at Vimy Ridge, France. A former copy editor, she holds a doctorate in British economic and social history from the University of Oxford. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and young children.                                                                         Goodreads           Facebook           Twitter            Website

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