Chris Cleave: Everyone Brave is Forgiven (4 stars)

Powerful, affecting WWII novel from the award-winning author

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Chris Cleave: Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Chris Cleave has gained something of a reputation as a dramatic, compelling storyteller thanks to his successful novels, The Other Hand and Gold. Everyone Brave is Forgiven follows in this vein, as it tells the story of Mary North, who heads to the war office a mere 45 minutes after World War II is declared to offer her assistance. To Mary's annoyance, she is resigned to the classroom rather than sent to the front line, but it is there that she meets Tom, who becomes her lover. Through Tom's soldier roommate Alistair, the two are exposed to the horrors and realities of life on the battlefield.

Through these characters, Cleave characterises various conceptions of war: Mary viewing it as an idealised, patriotic call to aid, Tom as a fool's errand to be avoided, and Alistair a traumatic event. Cleave convincingly presents these opposing views and seamlessly shifts between them. This is a powerful, emotional read, which skilfully balances heartwarming romance with dark, gritty wartime truths. In this novel, war is complex, divisive, and relentlessly real.

Out Thu 21 Apr, published by Sceptre.

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