Everyone Brave is Forgiven
By Chris Cleave
Simon & Schuster, 2016. 432 pgs. Historical Fiction
Mary North was born into privilege and wealth. But when World War II breaks out, she abandons her Swiss boarding school and signs on to help the war effort as a teacher for the children of London who have not been evacuated. Tom, her administrator and eventually her lover, avoids joining the army because his work is classified as essential, unlike his roommate and best friend Alistair who is soon transferred to Malta. While Alistair is home on leave, he, Tom, Mary, and Mary's best friend Hilda meet on a double date which is interrupted by a bombing raid that changes them all. Each of these Londoners will suffer through the war, battling their own demons, and showing their own brands of bravery.
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking you are a little tired of World War II historical fiction. I know that is what I was thinking. But I am so glad I still picked up this wonderful, bittersweet novel of courage and love. Cleave has crafted some wonderful characters that I grew to love. Their witty banter and heartbreaking honesty drew me in completely. I also appreciated a more real portrayal of the damage war produces to individuals as well as to landscapes while maintaining a hopeful tone. If you enjoyed All the Light We Cannot See or The Nightingale, you should definitely pick up Everyone Brave is Forgiven.