Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave


“I was brought up to believe that everyone brave is forgiven, but in wartime courage is cheap and clemency our of season.”

Many fiction books are set in World War II and many romanticize the war. A few show parts of the heartbreak the war brought, but this may be one of the most heartbreaking I have come across. Mary is from a well-to-do family, but decides to stay in London and volunteer for the war effort. She is assigned to be a teacher. She works with a man named Tom and the story revolves around them and Tom’s roommate, Alistair, who is serving on the front lines.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven has been on my to-read list for a while. I’m pretty sure I first saw it in Bookpages. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and the title seemed intriguing. War is never black and white – what could a brave soul need to be forgiven of?

Mary at first evacuates with the children to the country, but finds she is not suited for it. She returns with the children who are not taken in to anyone’s homes and starts a class for them and the disabled ones in London. Tom and Mary eventually start a relationship, which is solid until Alistair shows up for a quick visit. The bombings begin to hit London and tragedy strikes both Tom and Mary. I don’t want to give much more away, but there is heartbreak for everyone.

I was really struck with the descriptions of the bombings on London. I had read about them, but not in a historical fiction book that brings them up close. I have a much better understanding of London during the war after reading this book.

I would recommend the book to any adult who loves historical fiction. It would be a wonderful book club book as there is much to discuss in the book. If you read it, let me know. I’d love to have someone to discuss it with.

Buy the book here (affiliate link). 

About Sarah Anne Carter

Sarah Anne Carter is a writer and reader. She grew up all over the world as a military brat and is now putting down roots with her family in Ohio. Family life keeps her busy, but any spare moment is spent reading, writing or thinking about plots for novels.