This is an Australian historical novel evocatively grounded in a broad canvas of Australian life from the first to the second world wars. Beginning with his boyhood, it traces the development of a young Queenslander who joins the RAF in World War II, is shot down over Germany, and falls in love with his German nurse. After the war he has the challenge of finding her.
Though strictly an historical novel, it raises perennial questions of the morality of war. The debate about whether saturation bombing in World War II was justified is still not settled. From Quiet Homes does not attempt a definitive answer, though it leans towards rejecting that strategy; and if there is a single over-arching theme it is that humanity transcends national allegiances. This seems highly relevant now when war is again in the air, both because of the conflict in the Middle East and because the media spent much of the last two years revisiting World War I. The novel, by focusing on the lives of ordinary people caught up in conflicts too big to understand, will I hope provoke thought on what could lie ahead.
As a result, the novel looks at ordinary life and common attitudes between the wars; and coming to the forties, it treats of Bomber Command, Prisoner-of-War camps, and post-war destruction in Germany.
Well-known author Blanche d’Alpuget summarised her reaction in the following words: "It’s a beautifully balanced, never-flagging story that drew me in from the word go. It is also very poignant: I often had tears in my eyes."