A Time for Peace
In one of the best starts I’ve read, Rose bumps into a sad and drunken airman while on her way to help at the centre for WW2 bombing victims. This is a fine saga of great humanity set in working-class Hull, England. There are many war books but few of the results of war. With the ending of WW2 the ‘peace’ seems worse than the war itself. Predictably the dreary post-war period shows qualities of the British character under pressure.
Rose says goodbye to her boyfriend, Harry, whom she hopes to marry after the war. Shocked at a letter from him saying ‘it’s all over’, she endures her pain and starts to help others in air raids. There are details of streets and cafes in wartime Hull, where Rose and her friend Sally move, and conditions in the impoverished war-weary homes. I well remember Dali prints in British restaurants, set up by the government to assist production and maintain good diet.
But Harry returns, expecting Rose’s love, and so a triangle begins which, with family complications, continues to the end of this story of Rose finding a man when young men are short. With a jealous, selfish boyfriend, the now-helpful airman with a young son, and Rose trying to do her community work, this is a poignant telling of loving human contact. The smell of hair, the warmth of cheeks and softness of arms make it a very touchy novel.
When Rose’s brother brings home a German wife pregnant with the baby of his dead army colleague, the family is torn with anti-German feeling. Rose stands firm as peacemaker. The German mother dies in childbirth, compounding problems further, but all ends well.