Book Review: A Short Time to Stay Here


Recipient of the Willie Morris Award for Southern fiction.

A Short Time to Stay Here, by Terry Roberts

A little known part of American history is that World War I German soldiers were kept in an internment camp in North Carolina, in a converted luxury hotel. Complete with hot spring baths and contradictorily a hastily erected chain link fence, the soldiers were kept busy and allowed to build models of their German village and other projects they chose to do. While this seemed lenient to some, if they were content they might not try to escape.

The hotel manager, Steven Robbins, was given the position of supervising this camp, since he already knew the facility and grounds so well. Friction came from the town sheriff, a troublemaker if you ever saw one. Known as a hard man, a cheater, and a womanizer, Robbins stayed under the radar to avoid attracting his wrath.

In the midst of it all, a well known American photographer came to see if she could take pictures of the Germans and the internment camp. Robbins was at first reluctant to allow this potential invasion of privacy. He had too much to do what with keeping an eye on the prisoners.

Trouble ensues. I wish to avoid spoilers, so I will finish by saying this is an intimate look at a fascinating period of history. Lives are lost of some good and some bad. Anyone who likes historical fiction will enjoy this book. Though it is historical fiction, it’s more intrigue than romance, but there is some of both. I very much enjoyed reading A Short Time to Stay Here.


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