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BOOK BIZ — Novel tells of sacrifices and dangerous days of the Great War

Somewhere in France-rgb

» Somewhere in France By Jennifer Robson Published by William Morrow $14.99 softback

This novel of the Great War tells a story of personal growth, sacrifice and family liaisons, but it also tells a not-so-well-known story of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps of World War I.  There are  accounts of battlefield medical care and surgery of that war that are often overlooked too. Field hospitals were a far cry from the advances that were made in the 20 years between the two world wars and light years behind the care that fighting military personnel receive today.

Lady Elizabeth Ashford, or Lilly as she prefers to be called, has a front row seat for the destruction wrought by war when she enters the WAAC and becomes attached to the Motor Transport Division as an ambulance driver on the Western Front in France. She’s come a long way from the ancestral homes and restrictions of her aristocratic upbringing. Indeed, just by learning to drive she incurs the wrath of her parents to such a degree that Lilly leaves the family’s plush London home for a simple boarding house and work on the city’s trolley line.

As a member of the WAAC, Lilly requests deployment to the field hospital in France where she will be reunited with Robert Fraser, a Scottish army surgeon of humble birth and best friend of her dear brother Edward. Of course her friendship with Capt. Fraser is another matter of contention with her parents. Lilly’s and Fraser’s worlds could not be farther apart. In an age when ladies of her station were expected to be demure, marry well and settle into domestic life, Lilly wants to learn and be independent. Fraser encourages her dreams.

Somewhere in France is well written and factually supported by research. Jennifer Robson first learned of the Great War from her father, historian Stuart Robson. She served as a guide at the Canadian National War Memorial at Vimy Ridge, France. A former copy editor, she holds a doctorate  in British economic and social history from the University of Oxford. This is her first novel. The title refers to the “somewhere in France” vague address those on the Western Front used when writing home.

— Lynn Lofton, mbj@msbusiness.com

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