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It is not only in evoking the fields of battle that Miss Barker’s prose shines. Elinor observes, walking by a field being harvested by German prisoners, “Men like charred sticks stood around they were black against the burning gold of the field — everything seemed to be on the point of bursting into flames like one of Van Gogh’s landscapes, and the air burned the back of your throat. Dogs leaping up and down on the end of their leashes like black scribbles on the air.” Or a description of a night in London: “Only the moon was real, pouring white acid onto the streets, dissolving cabs, trams, motorcars, offices and shops in its cold stream. Its light seemed to form a brittle crust over the city, like the clear fluid that oozes from a wound.”

As she did in her earlier novels, Miss Barker incorporates real people into her narrative: Henry Tonks really was an artist and doctor. “Ottoline,” who befriends Elinor during the war, is Ottoline Morell, a leading member of the Bloomsbury group, known in real life for her hospitality,

Toby’s Room” ends ambiguously. Elinor’s father has sold their house. Elinor takes a last look at Toby’s room before running down the stairs to join Paul, who has come to fetch her from the empty house. The future is open-ended. Will there be a sequel? I hope so.

• Corinna Lothar is a writer and critic in Washington.