Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
The Last Word Review
War can throw people together unlike anything else in life and in the new outstanding historical novel Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave we meet three people who will leave a lasting impression on the reader.
London in 1939 and war has just been declared and hopes and dreams of many people are about to be crushed by war, for some who believe the war will be over quickly are about to be proved sadly wrong. Loosely based on the story of the authors grandparents we follow the main characters Mary, Tom and Alistair through the war years based in London and Malta in a story of love, hopes and dreams to put it simply this is their story.
What we see in Everyone Brave Is Forgiven is how the lives of ordinary people have been shaped by events completely out of their control for which they have no influence people and lives torn apart and shaped by the events of WWII.
From the start we meet Mary from a wealthy young lady and the daughter of an MP, she leaves finishing school and ends up as a teacher to children who have become rejected by the those in the countryside after the evacuations and through the job soon meets up with Tom and the two start a love affair, meanwhile Tom’s closest friend Alistair who is in art as a trade and soon enlists but what happens when Mary meets Alistair means there is a tragic and emotional love story involving all three protagonists the war is raging and London is in the midst of the blitz and the bombs fall like rain the face of London is changing by the day. During this part of the story you can almost hear the air raid sirens wailing around you and taste the smell of death and destruction this is the testament to how Chris Cleave writes as he involves the reader in every aspect of the story.
For Alistair he soon finds himself embroiled in the siege of Malta were tomorrow could well be your last. We learn that the author’s grandfather served in the siege of Malta during the war and there are photographs at the back of the book of his grandfather in uniform as well as together with his grandmother in 1944 that help bring the story to life.
The sheer detail is down to the immense research undertaken by Cleave and he does not hesitate to describe the horror of war whether it is in London as we see Mary and her fiend Hilda driving an ambulance through the blitz and London burnt as the bombs fell.
For me this has just become one of my top two books of 2016 and will be very hard to beat an incredible absorbing story that is both brutal and also incredibly humorous at times. The book is beautifully presented the cover is split between the top half of the book as a black and white photograph of a smartly dressed lady posting a letter surrounded by bombed out buildings and the bottom half mainly in red with the page edgings also in red giving a stunning feel and look to the book.
Without doubt Everyone Brave Is Forgiven is a book that will leave a mark on anyone who loves historical novels and proves that Chris Cleave is a writer at the very top of his game and master of telling a story. I do not ever recall ending a book and holding it with a tear knowing that we are leaving some characters behind that I wanted to know more about. “Brilliant, devastating, humorous and heart-breaking.”
Everyone Brave Is Forgiven written by Chris Cleave and published by Sceptre is available in Hardback through all Waterstones and good shops.