Hamilton East Public Library logo

My Account

Hours & Location

Get A Library Card

June 05, 2017

Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Everyone Brave is Forgiven

By: Chris Cleave


World War II fiction has been a trend in publishing these last few years.  In this librarian’s opinion, Everyone Brave is Forgiven is an excellent addition to this growing collection of novels.  It is a character driven story involving love, friendship, family and the tragedies of war.

The novel follows the lives of Mary, Tom, Alistair and Hilda.  They are friends, lovers and sometimes adversaries as they adjust to life during the onslaught of war.  Mary leaves the comfort of her parent’s estate to enlist in the war effort as a teacher.  There she meets Tom, the head master, and is instantly smitten.  Tom finds the work as fulfilling as that of a soldier, until his best friend Alistair enlists and leaves home.  Tom starts to second-guess his choices and worries he will lose Mary.  Alistair is confident his time as a soldier will be simple.  It is anything but, especially when he meets his best friend’s girl.

There are secondary storylines with Hilda, Alistair’s fellow soldiers and Mary’s students.  Hilda is the odd woman out in the story, falling in and out of love while living in Mary’s shadow.  Her decision to stay by Mary’s side has consequences she could not anticipate.  Cleave paints a detailed picture of life for the children of London, both rich and poor, black and white.  These are parts of WWII history I never learned about in school, and now I want to learn more

Cleave’s writing made me shiver, cry and hurt as the characters struggled to survive the enemy bombings and invasions.  One of the features of this book that I enjoyed was that it was realistic, without a cookie-cutter ending.  I felt like I knew Mary, Tom, Alistair and Hilda.  I was sorry their stories had to end – even if it was the right ending for them all.

Looking for more historical fiction?  Check out these read-a-likes:   All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres, and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.

Review By:  Kirsten Edwards