Trade Paperback, 353 pages
January 6th 2015
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.
“From now on, she resolved, she would try to remember that life could be more than work and study and serious-minded contemplation of society’s failings. She could know joy, and light, and relief from sadness.” (p. 141)
For some reason if truth be told I tend to enjoy historical fiction that has been marketed towards fans of Downton Abbey even though I have no intention of starting that show. Nevertheless, Jennifer Robson’s Great War series is no exception, and though I loved the first book, I was extra eager for her second book After the War since it features Charlotte’s story.
I adored the Lilly, who was the protagonist in Somewhere in France. However, I found Charlotte a much more relatable character for the reason that she an educated woman, and she does not wish to be married just for the reason that it is what women during her time were expected to do. And while I do love romance, I appreciated the fact that we become acquainted with Charlotte as a person outside of her relationships while witnessing her transform into an independent woman and an activist. This makes the romance in the book even more fulfilling since Charlotte and Edward’s relationship is based on their mutual respect of one another. From the start, they both push each other to be the best versions of themselves.
I also loved how this book seamlessly switches between the present i.e. events after the first book and the past to when Edward and Charlotte first met and when she was Lilly’s governess. It was quite sweet to observe the lengths Edward went to ensure his sister, Lilly received a superior education. And I also absolutely adored getting a glimpse at a different type of family dynamic, especially with Charlotte and her parents. It refreshing to observe warm and loving family relationships, especially after witnessing how mostly distant, cold and stern Lilly and Edward’s parents were towards their children (even though it’s probably what was commonplace at that time and for families of their social status). The best example that truly illustrates this point is an incredibly touching scene in the book between Charlotte and her father that definitely made me tear up a bit.
All in all, I loved this book since I got to revisit my favourite characters from the first book and observing how characters such as Robbie and Charlotte bond over their similar situations. And while I found a few things to be resolved rather quickly near the conclusion, and I kind of missed the letters that were commonplace in Somewhere in France I did however enjoy watching the characters interact with each other further in person in this book. Additionally, I enjoyed reading the various column pieces that Charlotte writes on social issues that she feels strongly about.
After the War is probably one of my favourite books that I have read thus far this year, and I would highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction and those of historical romance. What’s best concerning this book is that you do not need to read Somewhere on France first though I would recommend you read both for a greater reading experience.
Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.