Everyone Brave Is Forgiven

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven

Book - 2016
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When war is declared, Mary North leaves finishing school unfinished, goes straight to the War Office, and signs up. Tom Shaw decides to give it a miss - until his flatmate Alistair unexpectedly enlists, and the conflict can no longer be avoided. Young, bright and brave, Mary is certain she'd be a marvelous spy. When she is - bewilderingly - made a teacher, she instead finds herself defying prejudice to protect the children her country would rather forget. Tom, meanwhile, finds that he will do anything for Mary. And when Mary and Alistair meet, it is love, as well as war, that will test them in ways they could not have imagined, entangling three lives in violence and passion, friendship and deception, inexorably shaping their hopes and dreams. In a powerful combination of both humour and heartbreak, this dazzling novel weaves little-known history, and a perfect love story, through the vast sweep of the Second World War - daring us to understand that, against the great theatre of world events, it is the intimate losses, the small battles, the daily human triumphs, that change us most.
Publisher: London, Sceptre,, 2016.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781473618701
Characteristics: 438 pages ; 24 cm.

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From Library Staff

Recommended by Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems Podcast Book Club: " Everyone Brave is Forgiven by British novelist Chris Cleave begins in London in 1939. War is declared. Wealthy young Mary North “leaves finishing school unfinished” and signs on for the war effort without telling her pare... Read More »


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b
becker
Aug 27, 2017

There is no end to the amount of World War II fiction that is available and I have read a lot of it. Yet each book seems to offer a different perspective or experience of the same story and I never seem to grow tired of it. Everyone Brave is Forgiven takes the chaos of the war and then zooms the story down to 4 individual lives. 4 friends who all have their own unique personal journey through the war but who connect in ways that I found very touching. It demonstrates the impact of war not only on the personal level but also on the person's role in society. Where do we fit? Where do we belong, and how does the war change all the rules?

w
wyenotgo
Jul 05, 2017

I know I'm at odds with most reviewers but Cleave's terribly clever British repartee is infuriatingly phony, like fingernails screeching on a blackboard. Were there ever living people who talked that way? If so, I'm happy not to have met them! And then there are sentences such as: "She supposed that nature had no provision for conkers beyond the earnest expectation that boys in knee shorts would always come, world without end, to take them home and dangle them on shoe laces and invest each one with brash and improbable hope." Pardon me, but what in God's holy name does that mean?
As for the characters: A quartet of prigs.
Yes, the book has garnered positive reviews; Its merit begins to emerge 80+ pages in. But the style, the language, the characters, none of it appeals to me and the annoying aspects overwhelmed it.

m
MindfulDaydreamer
Jan 10, 2017

Engaging, witty, and beautifully written.

athompson10 Jan 08, 2017

Reminds me a LOT of "All the Light We Cannot See." Lyrical writing, changing narrators, and a compelling story moving between wartime London and the island of Malta, both under siege by the Luftwaffe.

brianreynolds Dec 20, 2016

Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave seems to want to be about the horror of war and the bravery of upper class English families during the early months of the London Blitz and the siege of Malta. What it doesn’t seem to be about is either the wrongness of war or the evil of Fascism or the belated involvement of the USA. Instead the author pokes once again at racism and class while constructing a bleak but absorbing archetypal comedy. While the outcome of the romance between the two fairly naive but adorable characters is seriously predictable from the start, the obstacles to be overcome are quite rightly so serious that in the end... Well, there’s no point in giving everything away, is there? It’s well-constructed, well-written (lovely in places) and well-meant. The blight of early 1940’s discrimination deserves a spotlight. Personally, however, that seemed ironic. My American father quite proudly credited that war with changing his views on race 180 degrees—for the better. But that’s an entirely different book.

a
axeman
Nov 03, 2016

Four friends in wartime England. Issues of race and class are addressed but this book has a very witty side. Lots of wise cracking dialogue among the friends as well as the solid writing made this a really engaging book.

c
crazycatlibrarian
Sep 22, 2016

Yet another World War II story in the recent lineup, done very well. Particularly powerful is the descriptive voice, the reader feels very much there, in London during the bombings in the rubble. Rebellious Mary North, from a privileged family, wants to help the war effort and struggles to find her place as a teacher, an ambulance driver, as a lover, and a survivor. Not predictable, deeply engaging.

h
harrissusanc
Sep 13, 2016

This is my new favorite war novel. It's take your breath away beautiful, with imagery, dialogue and depth of character and place, told by an old, often omniscient, narrator.

b
brangwinn
Sep 08, 2016

World War II has been the setting for two of my favorite books. All the Light We Cannot See (Doerr) and The Nightingale (Hannah). And now here comes another one, this time set in wartime London. When Mary leaves finishing school, she finds out her volunteer assignment, that of a school teacher in London and this leads to love with two men from less wealthy backgrounds. To me the basis of this story, the love letters of the author’s grandparents, makes this story into real historical fiction.

LoganLib_Adults Aug 30, 2016

Chris will be speaking at Logan North Library on Saturday 10th September 2016

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