Yvonne Child Of The Somme by Sara Rowell is a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era.
The reader becomes immersed into French life during the early part of the twentieth century. The author drops in on mother Marie’s life as a domestic servant in 1900 before following Yvonne’s life from 1901.
Life for women in France at the turn of the century was hard. We learn that a third of all births in Paris in 1900 was to single mothers and yet there was no pressure on the fathers to claim responsibility. Females were at the mercy of males. Domestic servants were at risk of abuse from other male servants or their masters.
The poor were seen as a problem for society that was ruled by the male elite. “The wealthy male elite… saw poor people not as individuals but as a … problem.” There was no poor relief and life was a lottery. Many women could not afford to keep their babies.
Yvonne’s mother in her poverty eventually had to relinquish all rights to her daughter aged just three years old. Yvonne spent eleven years in and out of institutions until she was twenty years old.
We hear about Yvonne’s World War I experiences too, as the Somme was at the heart of the war.
Yvonne, despite marrying an Englishman and living in England for forty five years, she never learned to speak English.
Sara Rowell writes in a very personable way, engaging the reader throughout Yvonne’s life. We are emotionally invested in her fortunes.
Yvonne Child Of The Somme is a glimpse into life before, during and after two world wars. Changes are immense as the world enters the modern era.
I thoroughly enjoyed Yvonne Child Of The Somme and can highly recommend this snapshot into a bygone era.
I received a free copy from the publishers. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.