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?
What I Thought:
I actually read this book quite a while ago, but it’s still timely as we’re right in the middle of the centenary commemorations for the First World War.
I like an historical novel anyway, but Somewhere in France was particularly good. The characters – though obviously rich and not really representative of your average family of the time – are relatable, and Lily is a likeable, feisty heroine. Jennifer Robson manages to build in what is obviously a lot of research about the period, but it is done in a natural way, and not just clumsy passages of irrelevant detail. We are able to follow Lily from her High Society life, through to the horrors of a war zone, and her journey seems a natural progression of her character.
There are some really memorable sections of the book which don’t skimp on description or atmosphere and, similar to BBC drama ‘The Crimson Field’, take you right into the action. There is also great respect shown towards the fighting men, doctors volunteers and Women’s Auxiliary Corps who are believable and worth caring about.
Ultimately, this is a very rewarding and believable novel of the First World War, and I can recommend it highly.
NB: I was sent a copy of Somewhere in France by the publisher, in return for an honest review.