Book Review: Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

“This was how a kind heart broke, after all: inward, making no shrapnel.”

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Everyone Brave is Forgiven follows Mary, Hilda, Tom and Alastair during WWII, and is split across London during the Blitz and Malta when the Siege took place.

The day war breaks out, Mary youthfully rebels against her elitist upbringing and enlists;  with her visions of grandeur she believes she is going to become a spy. Instead, she’s sent to a local school as a teacher, which is what leads to her love affair with Tom. From there, war unfolds and we see how it affects the ordinary, forgotten members of society. Told from both a military and civilian perspective, the story was inspired by Chris Cleave’s Grandfather who served in the siege of Malta.

Cleave is such a fantastic storyteller, his descriptions and plotlines are so intelligent and rich with detail, instantly transporting you to the horrors that WWII held – both in London and Malta. My favourite thing about Cleave’s writing is how he portrays emotion – he captures rawness, fragility and human strength so exquisitely, so perfectly. It really takes his characters to another level. The dialogue throughout is strong, witty and darkly humorous – there were moments I laughed out loud at the sarcastic, funny comments made.

I really didn’t want this to end and I had to have a moment at the end before I could start a new book. I definitely recommend this, particularly if you’re a fan of historical fiction, or if you’ve read some of Cleave’s earlier work and want to explore more.

Without a doubt, I had to give this 5/5.

Give it a go if you enjoyed: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr or Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Author: Chris Cleave
Published by: Sceptre
Paperback: 464 Pages

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