Review: Somewhere in France

I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Somewhere in FranceSomewhere in France: A Novel of the Great War by Jennifer Robson
Published by William Morrow on December 31, 2013
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: TLC Book Tours
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four-stars

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?

After my last WWI novel was such a dud, at least for me, I was rather loath to begin Somewhere in France. Though I was interested when I signed up for the tour, by the time the book arrived, I was not in the mood. I say this to explain that the cards were stacked against this book, but it charmed me utterly, despite me not being in the mood for WWI fiction or adult fiction in general when I picked it up. That’s the best compliment I can pay to Robson’s debut.

In looking back over my reading last year, I realized why I read so little adult fiction these days. So often, there’s minimal, if any, focus on characterization, which is the primary factor that attracts me to a novel. If I’m not involved with the characters, I’m starting out from a level of not caring, which is not how I should feel about a book. Somewhere in France is one of those adult titles that focuses on the characters first and foremost.

Robson captured my attention from the first pages, with the lavish portrayal of London right before the outbreak of World War I. Lilly Ashford lives under the thumb of her highest of high society mothers. It is all Lilly can do to not be shoved into a loveless engagement like her dear older brother Edward has been. At a dance, she once again meets her brother’s close friend, Robbie, not having seen him since she was a young teen. Now, grown up, there is a spark.

I shipped this HARD. Though, there aren’t any ships in the novel, so perhaps I lorried it? Anyway, I was such a big fan of the two. They get along really well, always feeling comfortable enough to get through the awkward moments. Plus, they truly trust one another with their secrets, which can be really hard to do. They communicate openly and honestly. Plus, who doesn’t love a guy who tells you to screw society’s standards that women are useless?

The romantic element of Somewhere in France comes first and foremost, so, if you’re not on board with that, it might not be the ideal WWI novel for you. However, I also just really enjoyed Robson’s writing, which has a quiet grace to it. This isn’t a horrors-of-war novel for the most part; she doesn’t show most of that up close, but it’s a nice view into training and daily life. Altogether, though, Somewhere in France is rather lighter than most of the similar fiction I’ve read.

For all that I loved this, Somewhere in France WAS similar to a lot of books I’ve read. What I like about fiction set in either of the World Wars is the diversity of perspectives and experiences. Though Somewhere in France is good. Nothing in it was entirely new, and I often had a sense of deja vu while reading, though I know I’ve not read this particular novel before. Obviously, this won’t be problematic for readers who rarely venture into this era, but, those who have read about the WWI time period rather widely, will not find much that’s new here from a historical perspective.

Ultimately, I think Somewhere in France might be best for readers of romance, who are a bit less familiar with the WWI setting. It’s lighter and has well-drawn characters, so I think it will be more accessible and entertaining than most of the other offerings I’ve encountered.

Favorite Quote:

“Will you do any sort of war work? Join a voluntary aid detachment, that sort of thing?”

“I hadn’t . . . I mean, I’ve never considered it. I doubt I could do anything to help.”

“Because you’re a woman? Rubbish. This is the twentieth century. Women can achieve anything they set their minds to do. Once we’re at war and the men are off fighting, women will be needed here at home to do all sorts of important things.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

north & south cute

7 responses to “Review: Somewhere in France”

  1. Lindsey says:

    I am so happy to see such a positive review of this book! I saw it out and about on the webs and in the store, and for some unknown reason I had some trepidation about picking it up. This gives me hope! And that gif – OH MY how I love North & South! I may just have to binge watch that soon. 🙂
    Lindsey recently posted…Historical Fiction Challenge 2014My Profile

  2. Heather says:

    I do already know a fair amount about WWI, but I think I’d still like to read this, as any book set in France during that time (or anytime, really) is sure to delight me. Sometimes it’s good for me to take a break from the “horrors of war” stories that I usually read from this era, and look more at the training/every day aspect that you described 🙂

  3. I like the idea of reading a book about WWI, but this one seems to be more about the romance than the actual war, and I don’t that’s the kind of story I’m looking for. The characters do sound interesting though. Great review!
    P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex recently posted…Cover Wars: Feather Bound vs. Some Quiet PlaceMy Profile

  4. Elizabeth says:

    1. This sounds awesome I’m totally adding it to me TBR
    2. What is that gif from because I am shipping that couple AND I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO THEY ARE
    3. You’re reading Tokyo Crazy Paradise?? I’m a big fan of Yoshiki Nakamura and I liked TCP. That being said, Skip Beat is the best. AT EVERYTHING.
    Elizabeth recently posted…Books ‘n Bloggers Swap!My Profile

  5. Wow, the deck was really stacked against you liking this book and yet you really loved it – what a great surprise!

    Thank for being on the tour.

  6. Bonnie says:

    Okay. I kinda love the sound of this one and had not even bothered checking out the summary before your review. On the list it goes! Great review. 🙂

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