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Downton Abby Meets Jane Eyre in After the War Is Over by Jennifer Robson

October 23rd, 2016 No comments

Cover of After the War is OverThe thing that lingered with me long after I finished After the War is Over is the stark image of a country slowly knitting itself together after the devastation of World War I. Here is the States, World War I is usually glossed over in our high school history classes. I don’t ever remember truly absorbing how terrible this war was and how some of the greatest casualties were the soldiers who limped back from the battlefield alive but suffering from deep emotional wounds in a time when PTSD was barely understood and even more rarely accepted.

Against this rich backdrop, Charlotte Brown is a middle class girl who is determined to fight for the impoverished. Charlotte Brown is idealistic, focused, kind, hard-working and will always, always, always do the right thing without a second thought. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have an ironic or cynical bone in her body, and this makes her about as bland as a weak cup of tea.

Fortunately, Jennifer Robson spices up her story with a Bronte-appropriate love story. Despite her best efforts, Charlotte finds herself drawn again and again to Edward Neville-Ashford, Earl of Cumberland. Edward is handsome, rich, and so blue-blooded that the Queen would approve. He also comes back from the war irreparably broken…and that has nothing to do with his missing leg.

Robson’s attention to detail as she paints a picture of the first year after the end of World War One is fascinating. She shows us the difficulties soldiers face as they try to transition back into civilian life and takes on PTSD in a time when “Cowardice” was still extremely misunderstood. The connection between Charlotte and Edward is undeniable, and the challenges they overcome together almost make me like Charlotte…almost.

Robson is a world-class talent, and it is testament to how well she constructed this book, that I didn’t even realize it was the second book in a three-part series until after I had finished it! While this book would probably be categorized as a historical romance, it will definitely appeal to any reader who wants to learn more about the early 1900s as well as any Downton Abby fan. I am definitely going to pick up the first book in the series, Somewhere in France.