Another library book, another winner. I found myself highlighting so many quotes in this book that I want to buy it just so I can have them all saved! (No worries – the highlights on my Kindle aren’t saved to the library version, so I didn’t mess up the copy for any future readers 🙂 ) The writing is beautiful, the story is sweeping…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me introduce you to Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave.
This book takes place during World War 2 and tells the story of those who fight on the frontlines and those who stay behind, those who have and those who have not, those who die and those who live. The main characters are Alistair Heath, who goes to war, Tom Shaw, who stays behind to run a school, Mary North, a socialite who volunteers to teach the children who aren’t evacuated during the war, and Hilda, Mary’s closest friend.
Throughout the novel – spanning 1939-1942, London to Malta to Gibraltar and back – important topics are explored, such as racism, duty, calling, mortality, and privilege. But the dialogue is so clever and witty throughout the entire book that even the harshest scenes and heaviest topics are digestible. I was outraged on one page and laughing out loud the next. The conversations in this book are some of the most entertaining and well written I have ever read, making the characters extremely real, endearing, and thoroughly developed. By the end, I felt like Mary was my friend – or rather, I hoped I would be cool enough to be hers!
I’m a sucker for historical fiction, so needless to say, I enjoyed this book.I also seem to really enjoy WW2 novels. Lately there have been a slew of incredible books about that time period (Nightingale, All the Light We Cannot See). I finished it in one week but wish it had lasted longer. I savored every page and loved the way the book transported me every time I opened it. I think some of the lessons learned throughout WW2 are extremely relevant and poignant given the current circumstances, so this book resonated with me on several levels.
Now, about those highlighted quotes? Here are a few of my favorites so you can get a taste for Cleave’s writing:
“London, then. It was a city in love with beginnings.”
“To be in love was to understand how alone had been before. It was to know that if one were ever alone again, there would be no exemption from the agony of it.”
“One knows one won’t be killed, but that’s hardly the same as living.”
“I was brought up to believe that everyone brave is forgiven, but in wartime courage is cheap and clemency out of season.”
“War made one do everything when one wasn’t at all ready. Dying, yes, but also living.”
“We are all of us orphaned by this war – the world that bore us is one and now we must be useful where we can.”
“How lovely was each breath. How peculiar that one had never noticed.”
“Women fall differently, that’s all. We die by the stopping of our hearts, they by the insistence of theirs.”
“…The heart, after all, did not declare victory. The heart declared only forgiveness…”
And so many more! On that note – read it, and then tell me what you think so we can talk about it 🙂
Rating: 4/5 stars
Stats: 433 pages
Recommended for: Fans of historical fiction, WW2 buffs, anyone in the mood for a story of friendship and how people endure life-changing circumstances.
Up Next: The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood