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'Yvonne, Child of the Somme' by Sara Rowell

Available from booksellers worldwide (including Amazon). In the UK, 'Yvonne, Child of the Somme'  is available from Waterstones, Blackwell’s, WHSmith plus other online book retailers. In France, it is available from Shakespeare and Company, Librairie Galignani, Smith&Son, Thiepval Museum and other outlets. At present, the book is only available in English and Sara is currently seeking a French publishing house to collaborate on a French version. You can also order a copy direct from the publisher:

Sara's first book, Yvonne, Child of the Somme, was published by Austin Macauley in 2022. It is the result of three years' research including several visits to Paris, the Somme region in northern France and London. 

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.

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.


‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.’

― Søren Kierkegaard, Danish Philosopher, 1813-55

‘In this fascinating, highly readable, and extensively researched account of the life of Yvonne Millet, Sara Rowell brings alive the exceptional difficulties faced by working-class women in the first half of the twentieth century, trying to navigate work and family life against the backdrop of a world at war.’ 

- Dr Zoë Thomas, Associate Professor in Modern History, University of Birmingham

‘Yvonne, Child of the Somme uncovers not only Yvonne’s life story but the desperate stories of so many others who remain unseen. It is a thought provoking, page turning masterpiece, and an important read for any fans of historical fiction and biography.

- Lucy Connors, Reviewer & Blogger

'The revelations are poignant...for anyone curious about details of everyday life for abandoned children, particularly girls, as they came of age in the early twentieth century...This engaging account will appeal to readers interested in human survival, particularly in the case of impoverished, single women with no reproductive choices.’

- Professor Elinor Accampo, Professor Emerita, Department of History, University of Southern California, USA

Read On

About Sara Rowell

Sara became a writer thanks to a chance conversation with a friend, following 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.


Sara is currently working on the story of three of her own ancestors, who in the 19th century were involved in two of the most famous explorations of the day - the Franklin expedition to chart a North West passage through the Arctic (1845) and H M Stanley’s expedition to trace the source of the Nile (1874). All three young men were oyster fishermen from the Medway towns, Kent. They each took an extraordinary opportunity to serve famous explorers on dangerous adventures - and paid for it with their lives. 

A member of Solihull Writers Group (, her writing to date includes historical non-fiction and historical fiction. Since 2020, she has won the Solihull Writers non-fiction competition three times and in 2024 won the fiction competition. Sara lives in Solihull, West Midlands.

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