Come and meet author Sara Rowell, who will be signing copies of her new book, Yvonne, Child of the Somme.
A moving, true account of one girl’s formative years in early 20th century France, Yvonne, Child of the Somme is also the story of thousands of children like her, who shared a similar fate. Most were too ashamed of their background ever to reveal their heart-rending stories. The echoes of their pain reverberated down the generations, unexplained.
Yvonne Millet was born into poverty in Paris during La Belle Époque, in the shadow of Notre-Dame cathedral. Taken to a childminder in the countryside a few days after birth, she became a ward of state at the age of three when her mother disappeared. A stable childhood in the beautiful Somme region of northern France was shattered when, aged fifteen, she was sent to work as a maid in a military town, during the First World War. Her devastating experiences would change her life and haunt her forever. As a troubled young woman facing a precarious future, chance led Yvonne to marry a former British soldier. Hopes of fulfilment with a husband and family were marred by profound insecurities and the Second World War.
‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.’ Søren Kierkegaard, Danish Philosopher
Sara Rowell began writing thanks to a chance conversation with a friend, after a career in marketing and communications. She is fascinated by stories within ordinary families at extraordinary points in history, and how they can echo down the generations. A member of Solihull Writers, her writing includes historical biography and historical fiction. In 2020 she won the Solihull Writers non-fiction competition for her entry ‘Ah yes, the past has mystery’, and went on to win the award again in 2022 and 2023.