Somewhere In France

January 10, 2014 Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance 26

Somewhere in FranceTitle: Somewhere in France
Author: Jennifer Robson
Source: from publisher for TLC book tour
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Summary: This was a touching romance perfect for the time period, yet touching on issues relevant to women today.

Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford has always thought fondly of her bother’s friend Robert since as a child he encouraged her to pursue her dreams. A surprise meeting years later reveals him to still be equally supportive and their mutual attraction is obvious. However, Elizabeth’s mother disapproves of Robert almost as much as she disapproves of Elizabeth’s career aspirations. The war and encouragement from friends give Elizabeth the courage to break with her parents. As an ambulance driver she is eventually sent to the front, where she is reunited with Robert (a surgeon). Although they are reunited, his fear for her safety is a strain their relationship might not survive.

Even in historical fiction, I feel like most readers want female characters to behave like modern women. I personally find it unpleasant to read a book like Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival which doesn’t at least condemn the sexism of the time period. In many time periods though, I suspect it was unusual for a woman to successfully resist seixst social pressures. That is one reason why Jennifer Robson’s choice of setting is so perfect. It is clear that many women are beginning to have the freedom to attend school, have careers, and marry who they like. A woman from an old fashioned family might have to fight for those privileges. She also might believably succeed. Watching Elizabeth do so was inspiring and a ton of fun.

The romance, like Elizabeth’s personal story, was perfectly suited to the time period. Having to deal with the war and the social issues that might separate them made every happy moment of the relationship feel precious. The letters the characters exchanged were enjoyable and an integral part of the story’s success. In particular, they allow you to see Elizabeth and Robert’s relationship forming. At the end, you know why these characters love each other. In any genre, I think that’s a critical component of a well written romance.

Descriptions of the war were also very well done. It was clear how horrible the war was. It was clear what a devastating  effect it was having on the mental health of everyone involved. And both these things were accomplished without rubbing your face in gory details.  This backdrop made the romance all the more moving. I think that makes this a spectacular example of a historical fiction romance. The romance personalized the time period and the romance couldn’t have happened at any other time. It was beautiful, poignant, and fit the time period perfectly.

For some other perspectives, check out the other stops on the tourAmazon, or Goodreads.




26 Responses to “Somewhere In France”

    • DoingDewey

      It was a beautiful cover and a beautifully constructed book. The paper felt very high quality and the edges of the pages were textured in a very appealing way. I enjoyed both reading it and looking at it quite a bit 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      I’m glad! I thought it was very well done, so if it’s your sort of book, I’m sure you’ll love it. Thanks for having me on the tour 🙂

  1. Charlotte @ Thoughts and Pens

    Yay! A female ambulance driver during an old period? That’s really odd because I think during those times, females are pre-occupied with attending balls and doing needlework. And of course, they are not permitted to look for a real job. Don’t hesitate to correct me if I have a misguided belief. xD

    It’s good to know that romance was executed well and the author really took the time to walk you through the whole journey of Eli and Robert’s love affair.

    Lovely review, Katie.

    • DoingDewey

      It sounds like during WWI, that started to change, a lot like WWII in America. There was lots of patriotism and advertising jobs as a way for a woman to free a man to fight. There definitely was some obsession with balls and needlework though! In this book, Elizabeth’s mom would have been much happier if that’s what she’d focused on for sure.

      My favorite romances are those where you can see the characters growing more attached to each other and where I can identify specific things they like about each other. This book did a great job with that 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      Wonderful! Ever since I started blogging, I’ve noticed that my favorite books are the ones where I get really excited about the idea of someone else reading them too 🙂

  2. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy

    This sounds like a wonderful read! I’m glad that it’s not too overly descriptive when it comes to the gory details because I’m not really fond of war stories. But it seems like I could get into this! Great review! And like another blogger commented – I really love the cover!

    • DoingDewey

      I’m not a huge fan of war stories either or graphic violence in general, so I appreciated that while violence was mentioned, it wasn’t dwelt on. I loved the cover too! It was generally a really beautiful book 🙂

  3. Allison @ The Book Wheel

    I always have a bit of an adjustment period when reading an older book because while part of me wants to scream about the gender inequalities, I also know that the book is set in a time where you can’t yell about that. I remember in high school everyone hated Tess of the D’Urbervilles because of these reasons and I loved the book. I guess I’m just able to overlook social injustices of the times a bit more for the sake of the story.

    • DoingDewey

      I think I might prefer unrealistic books to those which allow historically accurate but horrible treatment of women to slide by without comment. Perhaps an introduction or something that addressed the issue and made it clear the author was being historically accurate but not ok with the way women were treated at the time would make me happier about it. It’s definitely a tough issue!

      I think it makes sense to overlook historically accurate social injustices in order to enjoy a story. I’m not sure if I can or not. They really bothered me in Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival, but it also wasn’t that great of a story, so it’s hard to say. Perhaps in a better story, I’d have been more willing to forgive the problem.

  4. Christine @Buckling Bookshelves

    I love historical fiction and have been eyeing this one — sounds really good! I totally agree that the culture clash of modern/historical women is hard to address — on the one hand we want things realistic, but on the other hand we’re offended if a character doesn’t resist the sexist tendencies of the time. I guess a lot of interesting books feature the women who do resist, but it’s quite a conundrum!

    • DoingDewey

      It really is a tough question and I’m not sure how I think it should be addressed. The idea I like best so far is for the author to include an introduction or something stating that while the way women are treated in the book is historically accurate, he/she isn’t advocating it. However, I do think historical accuracy is important, so perhaps I should just give authors the benefit of the doubt.

  5. Alice

    This sounds really good, I hope to read more historical books this year…I really enjoyed trying out more historical fiction last year! 🙂
    Great review!

    • DoingDewey

      I’ve been reading a lot more historical fiction in the past year or so and I’ve really loved it. I hope you continue to enjoy it too 🙂

  6. Charlie

    I liked the sound of it, but this ‘the romance couldn’t have happened at any other time’, gets me. I know that is often the case in books but still so many seem.. interchangeable. Regarding what you said about the sexism it’s difficult. My thoughts are pretty much the same as Christine’s. It must be difficult for authors to balance it!

    • DoingDewey

      I really loved how interdependent the plot and the time period were. There were several issues in the romance which would never have arisen in another time. I think that made this book unique and would differentiate it from other love stories. It also gave a very personal glimpse at what life was like in that time period. It was a great book 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      Challenges that ask you to read a wide variety of books are some of my favorites 🙂 Thanks for running the Linky Party! I think I’ll have to emulate your idea to publicize participants post for my non-fiction friday. It’s such a good idea!

  1. The Secret of Raven Point | Doing Dewey

    […] general, I hate depressing, dark, and gory books. This book was definitely all three! Unlike in Somewhere in France, there is no glossing over the gruesome bits of war nurse’s job. At least half of the […]

  2. Literary Love 2014 - Love In France | Doing Dewey

    […] Historical Fiction – Somewhere In France I just have so many good things to say about this book! It was a perfect historical romance. The love story is very sweet and is completely integrated into the era in which it takes places. The way the romance progresses is determined in part by factors unique to the time period, which makes the romance less cliche and is a great way to give the reader a feel for the era. Full review here. […]

  3. #TLCBookTours: The Gown | Doing Dewey

    […] loved both of the previous books of Jennifer Robson’s that I’ve read (Somewhere in France and Moonlight Over Paris), so I jumped at the chance to review her latest novel. Set in post-WWII […]

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.