Savvy Reader Book Club: Somewhere In France

In the dark and dangerous days of World War I, a daring young woman will risk her life to find her destiny.

Somewhere In France is the debut novel by Canadian author Jennifer Robson. In it, 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 Lilly 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.

Perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, Somewhere In France is inspired by Jennifer’s passion for the Great War, developed from both her father, acclaimed historian Stuart Robson; her time spent studying at Oxford University; and her experience as an official guide at the Canadian National War Memorial at Vimy Ridge, France.

Hosting your book club? We recommend discussing Somewhere In France over an afternoon tea! Check back to The Savvy Reader throughout the month for book club inpiration, including Jennifer’s own scone recipe, hosting tips (with printable decor!), and more.

Questions for Discussion

1. If you had the chance to grow up as the daughter of Lord and Lady Cumberland—knowing that you would live in unimaginable luxury but would also be denied an education, the chance to work, and very likely the chance to choose your own spouse—would you do it?

2. Do you feel Lady Cumberland’s treatment of Lilly is motivated by sincere concern for her daughter’s welfare? Or is it a case of her obsessively adhering to the conventions of aristocratic society, no matter the cost?

3. Do Robbie’s motivations in pushing Lilly away after the bombardment of the 51st make sense to you? Do you sympathize with him or do you think he allows tunnel vision to cloud his judgment?

4. What about Lilly’s motivations? Is she right to insist on staying at the 51st no matter what? Wouldn’t it be reasonable for her to compromise and take up a position elsewhere in France?

5. Before reading Somewhere in France, if someone had mentioned the First World War to you, what would have come to mind? Has your perception of the First World War changed as a result?

6. Somewhere in France is set in the recent past, a century ago. Were there any aspects of life in the novel that surprised you by their modernity? Did its characters feel familiar to you, or more like inhabitants of “a different country,” to paraphrase a well-known description of the past?

7. Do you think Robbie and Lilly’s relationship would have been possible without the war and the changes it brought to British society?

8. Do you think it really would have been possible for Lilly to become friends with women like Annie and Bridget? Could such a disparity in wealth, privilege, and class truly be bridged in that era?

9. How do you think Lilly and her friends were changed by their experiences in the WAAC? Would it have been easy for them to return to ordinary life and the status quo after the war?

10. Do you think the war still matters? Why? It was fought a century ago, every one of its veterans is now dead, and memories of it are fading from our collective consciousness. Should we just leave it to the professional historians and concentrate on more recent events?

Interested in reading Somewhere In France? Enter to win a copy by adding it to your 50 Book Pledge To Be Read shelf here.

Happy reading, Book Clubs!

Kaiti

Follow me on twitter @SavvyReader@ktvncnt
See my 50 Book Pledge profile here.

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Digital Marketing Coordinator at HarperCollins Canada. Film, fiction and fashion blog enthusiast. Follow me on twitter @SavvyReader & @ktvncnt.

4 thoughts on “Savvy Reader Book Club: Somewhere In France

  1. Hi Kaiti! I am currently reading Somewhere in France and LOVING it! Would love to participate in this online discussion.

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