Jennifer Robson is an academic, lifelong history nerd, former editor turned full-time author of historical fiction and romance novels. She debuted her writing career with the novel “Somewhere in France,” the first novel of the bestselling “Great War” series. Most of her novels are set either during or immediately after the end of World War I and World War II. She has also contributed to the “Fall of Poppies” anthology. Robson is known for her themes of women dreaming of achievement. While the novels are often categorized as historical romances with their sepia-toned and pastel-hued covers featuring couples in longing stares, these novels are anything but. Rather they are historical fiction with women at the center of the story. As someone that was so interested in history, Jennifer went to Western University’s King’s University College, from where she graduated with a degree in Modern History and French Literature. She also went to the University of Oxford’s Saint Antony’s College where she got her Ph.D. in British social and economic history. While at Oxford Robson was an SSHRC Doctoral Fellow and a Commonwealth Scholar. For several years, she was an editor before she decided to quit and become a professional author once her debut novel became a huge success. She currently lives with her husband and children in Toronto, Canada.
It is no surprise that Jennifer loves to write stories set during and immediately after the “Great War” given that she studied the social and economic history of Britain. In fact, her doctoral thesis had elements of clothes rationing during World War II. Moreover, her father was also a historian who told her stories of the history of the wars and got her hooked. Nonetheless, while Robson does not call herself a historian, she approaches the research for her novels like a professional historian. She starts out with general history and then goes to more specific histories before concluding with primary sources if she had the funds and time. While writing her “Great War Trilogy” that is set after and during the “Great War” she relied on existing oral history, after the fact interviews, military accounts, contemporary newspaper articles, memoirs, and diaries. When it came to writing The bestselling single standing novels “The Gown” and “Goodnight from London,” she had the luxury of having access to people that were present during the events after the “Great War.” Robson believes that having people that lived during the times added to the vitality and immediacy evident in the two novels.
As a twenty-year-old, Jennifer Robson thought she would end up a history teacher like her father. However, she could not find much work after graduating and ended up in journalism and publishing which she enjoyed, but did not find stimulating enough. Looking to make her mark in the world, the big inspiration came when she watched “J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life” in which Rowling asserts that she would write and even if she got rejected by publishers it was no big deal. It was at this moment that Robson thought why not write a novel she had been planning on doing since her teens. The very next day, she started penning the manuscript for a novel she titled “Out Of All Knowing.” It was about a high born woman who defies her parents to become an ambulance driver and while at it falls in love with a Scottish surgeon with no social standing. The novel never went anywhere as all she got were rejections until the TV series “Downtown Abbey” about a family of British aristocrats became a cultural phenomenon in North America. One of her friends thought she should try pitching editors once again and this time she sold the manuscript to Harper Collins’s William Morrow under the title “Somewhere in France.” The novel was published in 2013 and currently has more than 100,000 copies in print.
Jennifer Robson’s “Somewhere in France” is the story of Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford, a woman that is interested in pursuing a career, traveling the world and marrying for love. But in 1914, the British aristocratic society still follows rigid societal rules and her mother forbids her from following her heart. When World War I breaks out, Elizabeth seizes her chance at freedom as she moves to London to help in the war effort as an ambulance driver in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. It is a treacherous yet exciting job that sees her working very close to the front line. At her assigned field hospital in France, she meets the best friend of her brother Edward named Robert Fraser. He is a Scottish doctor that had always encouraged her to pursue her dreams. Lily has always had a thing for the doctor though he is not of the social standing that would be acceptable for her parents. On his part, he thinks she is the most beautiful woman he has ever known and though she is forbidden to him, he is determined to ensure that she is safe while working on the Western Front. In a world filled with death and uncertainty and divided by class will their love fall to the war or will hope spring eternal?
“After the War Is Over,” the second novel of the “Great War” series by Jennifer Robson is a tale of freedom, love, and class. Charlotte Brown is finally ready to leave the devastation of the Great War behind after four years of working on the front line as a military nurse. She was the daughter of a clergyman and helping others was something she had known since she was a child. She moves to Liverpool and begins working with the needy, only pausing to enjoy dinner at her boarding house with some of her helpers. Just as she is becoming comfortable with her new circumstances, she receive two missives that will upend everything in her life. The first message reminds her of the past, of a man she loved and wanted so much but could never get. The second offers her a chance to be a spokesman for the needy by writing a column in a newspaper run by a young radical editor. She had been taken by the brother to her best friend, a man named Edward Neville-Ashford. Edward has just been named Earl of Cumberland though the war had severely scarred him and left him a shadow of what he had been. But underneath the haunted eyes, Charlotte thinks the glint and charm of the young man that stole her heart still lives. She is determined to help him but cannot wonder if it is worth the risk, given that he may never become hers.
Jennifer Robson’s “Moonlight over Paris” is set in 1920s Paris and tells the story of an English aristocrat that leaves behind the high born life for the heady world and mesmerizing salons of the Lost Generation. Lady Helena had arrived in Paris in 1924 and after recovering from a strong bout of illness wants to enjoy the heady and restless attraction of the cultural capital of Europe. Her parents had allowed her to live out a year in Paris under the watchful eye of her aunt. Helena is quickly attracted to the hippy Lost Generation and her American expatriate friends soon influence her to pursue her wildest dreams. She is particularly taken with Sam Howard, one of the expats that is a journalist working for a major American publication. He is a plain-spoken but irascible man that has seen a lot while covering the war. For Helena, there has never been a more fascinating man though she knows that he could not be more unsuitable in the eyes of her aristocratic family. As Paris rises from the ashes, Helena’s life and perspectives in life are changing. She is no longer the obedient and dutiful girl she once was but now needs to define her new identity now that she has left her old self behind.
Books in order of publication by series:
Great War Books
|Somewhere in France||(2013)|
|After the War is Over||(2014)|
|Moonlight over Paris||(2016)|
|Goodnight from London||(2017)|
|All For the Love of You||(2016)|