SOWEWHERE IN FRANCE is an original and vivid depiction of the dangers and drama, and the personal rites of passage, of young men, in World War II.
The story of the four Scottish friends must have been that of very many young men who went through that conflict and emerged stronger and better people for it, in spite of the dangers and terrors of wartime. It addresses too, some major questions, which have contemporary resonance; cowardice and bravery – are they perhaps different sides of the same coin? – and the nature of war.
This is a novel which tells a good and moving story, but also is not afraid to dip into deep waters.
The characters are well developed and convincing as the central protagonists. Technically the book is strong, and Robert enjoys a natural, direct and effective literary style, and in particular, a good ear for speech, the convincing use of which serves to advance the narrative.
The narrative approach is original; World War II is still the defining event of our time, and an inexhaustible mine of experience for the creative novelist.
However, this is not really a ‘war novel’: it is much more a story of a group of people that happened to unfold in time of war, and was of course powerfully affected by these events. It is a novel of character and situation.