My thoughts: Although this novel's subtitle indicates its about the Great War, the emphasis of the story is more on Lilly's search for independence and her love with war surgeon Robbie, the old roommate of her brother Edward. The hopefulness of both of these storylines shifts the tone of the novel away from the atrocities of war, even as its main characters continue to immerse themselves in it. For a novel about war, there is a surprising lack of somberness, as the narrating characters focus on their own fortune and nearly altruistic desire to help.
Underlying the novel are themes of class and its place in the war, a theme of which I'm quite fond. This time in history is a fascinating one (admittedly my love of Downton Abbey illuminated my love of this time period), and I appreciated the tensions between classes, and the past, present and future. Lilly is a dynamic character who will certainly appeal to modern readers. The love story at the novel's core is filled with passion and frustration, but both Lilly and Robbie are characters to root for; so too did I root for their love.
The verdict: Somewhere in France is a somewhat gentle, romantic war novel. I raced through it in less than a day and quite enjoyed my time with its characters, particularly Lilly. Despite much of the action taking place in war, there's a hopefulness to this novel that keeps much of the harsh realities of war at bay and makes this novel more an escapist historical romp than a novel of the depressing realities of war.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 400 pages
Publication date: December 31, 2013
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