Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

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Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: An epic novel of war, love, and humanity – Everyone Brave is Forgiven is both a sweeping romance and an intimate look at the horrors of war on everyone caught in its path. Moving, shocking, and immensely gripping – the strong connections that the author has to the characters in this book, make it his best novel yet.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: April 2016
Publisher: Sceptre
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1473618695

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War was declared at 11:15. Mary North signed up at noon. When war is declared, Mary North leaves her finishing school, travels back to London, and immediately signs up. Expecting to be given a position of high importance or excitement, she is instead placed as a school teacher. Tom Shaw decides to give war a miss – happy in his role organising education. It's only when his flatmate Alistair enlists, that Tom and Mary are drawn into the war in ways they never could have imagined. As Mary grows to protect and defend her small band of pupils, Tom struggles to decide whether he should join the war effort. And Alistair? Many, many miles away, Alistair battles both the enemy, and his own feelings for one out of his reach.

I've read several of Chris Cleave's previous novels – stumbling across him in a bookshop near Victoria coach station, panic buying books before an 8 hour trip. I picked up The Other Hand (published as Little Bee in the US), and was mercifully captivated for a good few hours. I then read his earlier book, Incendiary – and again, found myself engaged, so when picking up Everyone Brave is Forgiven, I was relatively assured that I would be in for a good read. As it turns out, I was completely stunned by how good this was – moving and enthralling, it's easily the best novel of Cleave's that I have read.

There can often be a tendency with wartime novels to glamourise the event – full of elegant fashions, chivalrous soldiers, and people making do and getting on with things. Cleave's novel does have all of those things – yet there is no glamour here. There is a raw underbelly to the book, churning emotions and horrific injuries making some chapters genuinely hard to read. And rightly so, as far as I'm concerned – this is a book about war, and how people cope with its awful effects. There is plenty of romance – but the places this book transports the reader to are not always pleasant, and things don't always turn out for the characters quite how you hope they will go – none of them survive unscathed, and some of their lives go in genuinely surprising directions.

This a large and sprawling novel – but nevertheless I raced through it in the space of a rainy Sunday. Captivating, honest, and not ashamed to celebrate characters who are real, relatable and flawed, Everyone Brave is Forgiven is a moving tale of passion and life, and I've got a feeling it's going to do very, very well indeed. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.

For further reading, I would recommend a book where another author of contemporary fiction has again decided to plunge into the world of historical fiction – A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale is easily one of my favourite reads of 2015.

Buy Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave at Amazon.com.


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