Set in Serbia during the First World War, the lives of a brave soldier and a patriotic medical orderly interweave.
In war atrocities take place. Stefan is brutalised by the horror, torn by loyalty to his men. Ellen buries the memory of women's rotting corpses piled in a church.
When Serbia is occupied during 1915, the army and 30,000 of its cadets, hundreds of its people evacuate in a mass exodus to Corfu.
In the worst Balkan winter in living memory, Stefan leads the rear guard action and Ellen escorts cadets.
Their survival depends on them facing what they fear most.
There is a satisfying blend of spareness and depth in A Time for Peace, which is very accomplished. Marg Roberts has a natural-seeming ability to blend outer sensory detail with inner life and a light touch with perfectly poised use of sensory detail that brings scenes alive. There is a subtlety that knows about pacing and delivery as well as understatement. A fine and brave novel.
This is a very convincing piece of writing. The terse tone suits the subject matter and the characters inhabit their world well.
Ian Breckon, Knight of Swords