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Everyone brave is forgiven
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Mary North (Female), Teacher, British, Upper class, Left school to enlist in the war hoping to be a spy; made a teacher; finds herself trying to protect the children her country would rather forget
Tom Shaw (Male), Hoped to avoid the war until his best friend, Alistair, enlists; falls in love with Mary when the finds a school for her to teach at
Alistair Heath (Male), Soldier, British, Tom's best friend; deployed to fight the Germans in France and then sent to Malta
Love story
World War II
Women in war
Women in the military
Falling in love
Jewish children in the Holocaust
Male friendship
Love triangles
London, England - Europe
Malta - Europe
Time Period
1939-1942 -- 20th century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Add another sweeping saga to the "London during the Blitz" genre, this one well crafted and compelling but a tad shy of perfect, if only because the romance between the main characters isn't developed convincingly. It's 1939, and 18-year-old Mary North impulsively departs her Swiss boarding school to join the war effort. Her assignment: instructing children who have not evacuated. Mary takes up with mild--mannered Tom and meets his charming friend Alistair, home on leave, on a double date with her long-suffering friend Hilda. The charge between Mary and Alistair is electric, but their loyalty to Tom keeps them from exploring it further. Then the Germans attack, and Alistair is shipped off to Malta, and the grim wartime reality sets in. Flashes of violence and gore add shock value, but the overall tone is nostalgic and bittersweet. As the title implies, there are many ways to be brave, and all should be forgiven. VERDICT -Readers who admired the author's Little Bee will snatch this one up and find much to like. Cleave shines when delivering droll banter, and the exchanges between Mary and Hilda and between Alistair and fellow officer Simonson during the Siege of Malta are particularly clever and touching. [See Prepub Alert, 11/16/15.]-Christine Perkins, Whatcom Cty. Lib. Syst., Bellingham, WA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

When war is declared in London in 1939, Mary rushes to the War Office to sign up. She is assigned to be 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. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM Partners. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
***AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER*** <br> <br> The "insightful, stark, and heartbreaking" ( Publishers Weekly , starred review) novel about three lives entangled during World War II from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Little Bee . <br> <br> "Cleave's foray into historical fiction is both grand and intimate. The novel's ability to stay small and quiet against the raging tableau of war is what also makes it glorious….an absorbing account of survival, racism, classism, love, and pain, and the scars left by all of them…Cleave's prose is imbued with a Dickensian flair, deploying brilliant metaphors and crackling dialogue." -- The New York Times Book Review <br> <br> "With dazzling prose, sharp English wit, and compassion, Cleave paints a powerful portrait of war's effects on those who fight and those left behind." -- People Book of the Week <br> <br> "The London Blitz is cinematically re-imagined in a deeply moving new novel from Chris Cleave. As he did in Little Bee , he places forthright characters in impossible situations in Everyone Brave Is Forgiven , a story set during World War II." --Carol Memmott, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) <br> <br> "Magnificent and profoundly moving…This dazzling novel of World War II is full of unforgettable characters and the keen emotional insights that moved readers of Chris Cleave's Little Bee ." --Shelf Awareness <br> <br> "Real, engaging characters, based loosely on Cleave's 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." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review) <br> <br> "Among all the recent fictions about the war, Cleave's miniseries of a novel is a surprising standout, with irresistibly engaging characters." -- Kirkus Reviews <br> <br> "Beautifully written, funny, gut-wrenching, and, above all, honest." -- The Daily Mail (UK) <br> <br> "Intensely felt…Full of insight and memorably original phrasings." -- Booklist <br> <br> "Well crafted and compelling…nostalgic and bittersweet." -- Library Journal <br> <br> London, 1939.<br> <br> The day war is declared, Mary North leaves finishing school unfinished, goes straight to the War Office, and signs up.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> Tom, meanwhile, finds that he will do anything for Mary.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.
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