Everyone Brave Is Forgiven

By: Chris Cleave

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Synopsis First…My Review After

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. 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.

My Review:

This book was beautifully written. I highlighted so many quotes as I was reading it! I listed a ton of them below. I gave this book 4 stars on Good Reads but really I would say it’s a 3.5 Early on, I was very intrigued and loved the witty banter between the main characters. I especially loved Mary! She is a feisty, head strong woman with a whip smart sense of humor. Mary begins her journey into teaching as a spoiled, well off young woman. She finds that the children with learning disabilities and the non-white children are treated very poorly and that really begins to change her as a person. She faces many traumatizing experiences as the war continues on and her character really becomes very three dimensional. The author didn’t make her transformation a cookie cutter type character which I thought was great. Mary falls into an addiction due to some unfortunate circumstances and in the beginning of this book I never would have expected that in her storyline. Tom is very sweet and you can tell that he doesn’t understand what Mary see’s in him. He even says it aloud many times to Alastair and to Mary herself. He is very calm and level headed in comparison to Mary’s rebelliousness and tenacity. Alastair is a charming good man. I pictured him the best out of the three main characters. There is an obvious love triangle in this story which I won’t spoil the end of, but honestly I really felt like the author pushed it on us without establishing a relationship between Mary and Alastair. It always bothers me when a story basically writes about love at first sight but doesn’t give me enough evidence of that love occurring. Side note…Mary’s friend Hilda was hilarious! Inappropriate, but very funny. I really enjoyed the times she stood up and told Mary how spoiled she was behaving. At times I grew annoyed with the dialogue but only because it seemed to over my head. British humor is not something I always understand when reading stories set in London and this story was no different. Plus the addition of the historical war time story element made me have to re-read many parts to comprehend where I was in the story.

Final verdict…I say read this one if you enjoy wonderful writing, WWII Historical Fiction, and a beautiful love triangle.

Dream Movie Cast:

Alastair – Someone very handsome like Henry Cavill


Tom – Someone small and somewhat dorky like Eddie Redmayne


Mary – Someone young and feisty like Emma Watson


Quotable Quotes:

“It turned out that the only difference between children and adults was that children were prepared to put twice the energy into the project of not being sad.”

“I don’t care how much good these cigarettes do for your chests, they are ruinous for the drapes. “

When reading a letter written to Mary from a child at her school with terrible spelling…

“He spells as if he has picked up a job lot of letters ‘e’ on the cheap, and now is anxious to offload them.”

“The raindrops were champagne bubbles bursting on her skin”

“Here was what she wanted to know: was one meant to feel certain, about love?”

“To be in love was to understand how alone one had been before. It was to know that if one were ever alone again, there would be no exemption from the agony of it.”

“As she walked away from him he turned his back, to show that he could.”

“The Eiffel Tower is made of ferrous metal and it has a magnetic field that generates romance within a mile of it.”

“But what good is it to teach a child to count, if you don’t show him that he counts for something?”

“The eye may be an obligate scout but the heart is not an incurable follower.”

“Such was the past, after all it left the present cluttered with objects the survivors were immune to.”

“In the end I suppose we lay flowers on a grave because we cannot lay ourselves on it.”

“In the history of the world there was not one example of a man ever having written a satisfactory letter to a woman who mattered to him.”

“The longer one was made to wait, the harder it was to like what one waited for.”

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