The instant New York Times bestseller from Chris Cleave—the unforgettable novel about three lives entangled during World War II, told “with dazzling prose, sharp English wit, and compassion…a powerful portrait of war’s effects on those who fight and those left behind” (People, Book of the Week).
London, 1939. The day war is declared, Mary North leaves finishing school unfinished, goes straight to the War Office, and signs up. Tom Shaw decides to ignore the war—until he learns his roommate Alistair Heath has unexpectedly enlisted. Then 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 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. The three are drawn into a tragic love triangle and—as war escalates and bombs begin falling—further into a grim world of survival and desperation.
Set in London during the years of 1939–1942, when citizens had slim hope of survival, much less victory; and on the strategic island of Malta, which was daily devastated by the Axis barrage, Everyone Brave is Forgiven features little-known history and a perfect wartime love story inspired by the real-life love letters between Chris Cleave’s grandparents. This dazzling novel dares us to understand that, against the great theater of world events, it is the intimate losses, the small battles, the daily human triumphs that change us most.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Chris Cleave’s World War II epic is set away from the usual arenas of conflict, but it's just as dramatic. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven paints an evocative portrait of wartime London and the people left behind. Cleave’s heroine, Mary North, steals the show—she’s a vivacious, whipsmart, and capable young socialite who teaches children who’ve been rejected and sent back to the capital after evacuation. The novel also offers a rich love story (Mary’s part of a tortured triangle) and an emotionally captivating, devastating snapshot of a city ripped apart.
When war is declared in London in 1939, Mary rushes to the War Office to sign up. She is assigned to be a teacher (not the glamorous war job she'd pictured), but the children soon win her over, especially a child in her class named Zachary. When her class is evacuated to the country, Mary persuades Tom, her lover and a school administrator, to allow her to teach a small group of rejected children who are forced to remain. Meanwhile, Tom's roommate, Alistair, volunteers for the army and must endure a horrifying retreat in France before assignment to the island of Malta, where he and his fellow soldiers receive little food and are constantly under fire. On leave between assignments, Alistair meets Mary and the two are instantly attracted to each other despite their loyalties to Tom. Slowly at first, they begin corresponding as the war plunges forward and the personal losses pile up. Real, engaging characters, based loosely on Cleave's (Little Bee) own grandparents, come alive on the page. Insightful, stark, and heartbreaking, Cleave's latest novel portrays the irrepressible hopefulness that can arise in the face of catastrophe.
After Incendiary and Gold I was looking forward to this book. But after a promising start, and perhaps because of the subject matter but also due to the way we are taken to the seemingly inevitable conclusion, I was anxious to finish it off. The author writes well and I hope the 'other' book he temporarily shelved to write this one will turn out better.
Everyone Brave is Forgiven
Beautiful! Exceptional in the scope of understanding the details of a wars atrocities.
A must read.
Lacked creativity, bland storyline, and cliche ending.