Somewhere in France

Written by Jennifer Robson
Review by Caroline Wilson

Lady Elizabeth “Lilly” Neville-Ashford, the daughter of the Earl and Countess of Cumberland, is thoroughly stifled by her place in the hierarchy of British society. Her domineering mother wants to see her marry a socially acceptable man and start a family, but with the onset of World War I, Lilly has other ideas that include volunteering for the newly-created Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Sent to France to serve as an ambulance driver, she comes into contact with Robbie Fraser, her oldest brother’s dearest friend. Their love is illicit, and as the war escalates around them, they are forced to confront the eventuality that they may never see each other again.

Somewhere in France is a well-researched and riveting first novel. Robson is the daughter of the celebrated World War I historian, Stuart Robson, and her novel is accurate to its last heartbreaking detail without being bogged down with unnecessary information. Lilly is a woman caught between the shifting sands of the old aristocracy and her desire to be a thoroughly modern 20th-century woman. Robbie, though misguided at times, is all a hero should be: upstanding yet flawed enough to be relatable.

Being that the novel is set during the Edwardian period, it will inevitably call to mind Downton Abbey. Fortunately the characters and plot stand alone without harkening to that much in vogue series. Lovers of the period spanning the “War to End All Wars” will find much to enjoy in this novel, as will romance enthusiasts and general historical fiction readers. Recommended.