Somewhere in France: A Novel of the Great War by Jennifer Robson
This gem of a novel claims to satisfy lovers of Downton Abbey and fulfills that goal. The two main characters–Lilly Ashford and Robert “Robbie” Fraser–reflect the characteristics of Lady Sybil Crawley and Thomas Branson while their relationship resembles that of Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley. The main secondary character, Lilly’s brother Edward, follows a path similar to Matthew’s.
The story opens to Edward’s engagement ball where Lilly once again meets her brother’s friend, Robbie. Before her mother finds an excuse to drive Robbie from the party, he gave Lilly one piece of advice she took to heart: you can be anything you want to be. This sets her on a course where she leaves home and becomes a member of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). While her brother fights on the front lines and Robbie serves as a surgeon at an aid station near the front, Lilly becomes an ambulance driver. She soon finagles her way into serving at Robbie’s station and their relationship grows beyond the letters they had been sharing.
I loved this book! Not only was it very Downton-like in style and theme, but it was elegantly written. The wording and descriptions were true to the era (very Victorian). Additionally, Robson wrote in a way that made the readers feel the character’s emotions and showed that a determined woman is capable of anything, regardless of era. In the end, MUST PURCHASE OWN COPY! It was that good and I could read it again and again!
Review based on a library-owned copy.
So you think you will read this novel? If you already have, what were your thoughts? The sequel, After the War Is Over, came out early in 2015 and I have a review for it as well; that novel shows the post-war social issues.