As the novel opens, letters home to his wife, mother, and three children from Major William Lloyd describe the doctor's work and troubles in the hospital he's established behind the front lines somewhere in France.
But Emma, his wife, has troubles of her own. Her mother-in-law has moved the family to her Long Island estate to escape the city germs, and she rules with an iron hand. Emma's two sons, one at enlistment age, have alarming pacifist sympathies, and the flag-waving chauffeur is spreading rumors against the family.
With growing concern, Emma notices the increasing mention of the French nurse Jeanne Prie in the doctor's communications, and is disturbed by his boundless admiration for her and for the revolutionary work she's doing with victims of the mysterious fevers that are carrying off so many soldiers. Then, as Willie, the oldest son, is drafted, and as Jeanne's miracles, whether saintly or obsessed, stir up controversy, the situation spins out of control, forever changing their lives.
A wonderful and complicated love story, a portrait of a society in transition, a riveting tale of medical suspense, Somewhere in France is a major literary achievement.