Review: Somewhere in France

Somewhere in FranceJennifer Robson, Somewhere in France

Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford, known to friends and family as Lilly, has always felt stifled by her privileged upbringing. Though she’d like to go to university and embark on a career, it seems her only task in life will be to snare a rich, titled husband. Unfortunately, the only man to catch her eye is Robbie Frasier, a promising young surgeon whom her parents consider quite unsuitable. But with the outbreak of World War I, Lilly suddenly has access to a variety of new opportunities. Hoping to help with the war effort, she learns how to drive and eventually applies to the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, where she becomes an ambulance driver. Meanwhile, she carries on a clandestine correspondence with Robbie, who is working in a field hospital in France. When she and her colleagues are offered a chance to transport injured soldiers from the front lines, Lilly jumps at the chance to be reunited with Robbie. But will the tragic violence of this war ultimately separate them forever?

I picked up this book because I wanted to read something set in World War I for the centennial, but I wasn’t in the mood for something incredibly dark or depressing. Unfortunately, this book goes too far in the other direction; it’s a light, pleasant romance, but the World War I setting is a mere backdrop. I don’t need to read about the horrors of war in graphic detail, but I do want to feel that the characters are in real danger, that they must struggle against real obstacles, and that the war has left some kind of mark on them. Instead, even the descriptions of what Robbie sees on his makeshift operating table are bland, evoking no emotional response whatsoever. Part of the problem is that Lilly and Robbie are both such clichés: she is the naive and enthusiastic upper-class heroine, while he is the overprotective self-made hero. I just didn’t really care about either character, so I wasn’t invested in their romance at all. I was more interested in the secondary characters, Lilly’s brother Edward and her friend Charlotte — I’d love to read the story of their romance! Overall, this book isn’t a bad read, but it is completely and utterly forgettable.

4 thoughts on “Review: Somewhere in France

  1. DoingDewey says:

    Oh wow, I had a completely different reaction to this one! I loved the way the time period influence the romance between the two main characters and really liked that it was a story that I don’t think could have played out exactly as it did in any other time period. I agree that the protagonists could faced more challenges and while some of the horror of surgery is described, I’ve definitely read grittier accounts. I did like that one major point of conflict was the heroine standing up to the over protective love interest, but I might have liked it less had I read similar books before because it didn’t feel too cliched or expected to me. Anyway, I’m sorry to hear that it wasn’t as an enjoyable of a read for you. Better luck with your next one 🙂

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, I remember your very positive review of this book, and I actually feel a bit guilty for not feeling the same way! I certainly didn’t hate the book…it just seemed very bland compared to other historical fiction I’ve read. That said, apparently there is a sequel coming out next year with Lilly’s friend Charlotte as the heroine, and I’m still planning to read it! 🙂

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