The tiny, deserted village of La Peine, high in the mountains separating France and Italy, is the setting for this excellent novel of friendship and responsibility. George and Marcel, two Swiss lads who broke Swiss neutrality to join the German army and fight Russia desert together and come to La Peine. There they meet three other people in hiding: a Russian deserter, an elderly German and his young iece Anna, with whom George falls in love. Meanwhile, the German army is fleeing he Allies and the group's discovery seems certain. They retreat to the huge, centuries-old fortress situated above the village, which has been evacuated because of the threat of its decay and possible destruction from explosives and artillery ire. They are captured by French guerrillas, and Anna saves George from being shot for his inadvertent shooting of a French Resistance officer. Then George and Marcel head back for Switzerland and certain jail terms, following which George and Anna plan to marry. The well defined characters and the situation in which they find themselves compel interest.