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Everyone Brave is Forgiven

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  39,041 ratings  ·  4,931 reviews
A spellbinding novel about three unforgettable individuals thrown together by war, love, and their search for belonging in the ever-changing landscape of WWII London.

It’s 1939 and Mary, a young socialite, is determined to shock her blueblood political family by volunteering for the war effort. She is assigned as a teacher to children who were evacuated from London and have
Hardcover, 418 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Simon Schuster (first published February 2nd 2016)
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Karen This is a truly wonderful book. I loved every minute of it. I didn't want it to end, but couldn't put it down.

Can't wait to read Incendiary. I loved O…more
This is a truly wonderful book. I loved every minute of it. I didn't want it to end, but couldn't put it down.

Can't wait to read Incendiary. I loved On the Other Hand and as a cyclist also loved Gold.(less)
Sandra I recommend the Book Thief even though it is a young adult. WWl book is The Summer Before the War. I liked The Nightingale because some of it took pla…moreI recommend the Book Thief even though it is a young adult. WWl book is The Summer Before the War. I liked The Nightingale because some of it took place in the Basque area of the Pyrennes and my son and family lived close by as the time.(less)

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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  39,041 ratings  ·  4,931 reviews

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Oct 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Oh dear! I must be living in another reality because Everyone Brave Is Forgiven did not work as well for me as it seems to have worked for others. Chris Cleave is a very skilled writer -- his prose is truly beautiful. But the story and characters in Everyone Brave Is Forgiven seemed flat and pastiche like compared to many other books I have read set in WWII. And it wasn't assisted by its length. The story focuses on a handful of characters in London starting at the beginning of the war. Mary is ...more
Diane S ☔
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A character driven novel, a slow read and a quiet one. Had a little trouble connecting in the beginning, seemed to lack depth but I reminded myself to trust this author whose books I have read and loved in the past, so I did and am glad I did so. Loved reading how theses characters were changed during the war, not all for the good but change they did. Lost their innocence to a certain extent, their naivety. And in the end I loved them all. From the time I met Alastair, he became and remained my ...more
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
Everyone brave is indeed forgiven – but the bravery depicted in this novel is often distinguished by an impulse to break down social prejudice, notably racism and class snobbery, rather than heroics on the battlefield. The EU referendum has very much raised the issue of where each of us in this country, as individuals, draw our boundaries, where our loyalties lie in terms of community. Of course it’s easy to locate our first boundary – it encompasses our friends. “If I had to choose bet
Mar 28, 2018 added it
Shelves: fiction, world-war-ii
The Hook - Not only did Everyone Brave Is Forgiven come with rave reviews all around but it was another of the chosen Genealogy Gems BookClub Reads. I'm really enjoying reading these as I continue to explore my DNA and do a bit of family history.

The Line(s) -
“But what good is it to teach a child to count, if you don't show him that he counts for something?”
“Who knows which takes more courage—to die in battle, or to live in vain”

The Sinker This is a war story pure and simple It is also a love
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
3.5 stars. This WWII novel is set in the earlier days of the war, focusing on its effect on four young Brits: Mary North, a lovely and privileged but rebellious young woman who is earnestly trying to do her part to both help the war effort and combat prejudice, especially against blacks; Mary's best friend Hilda, quick with a joke but always feeling overshadowed by Mary, who always seems to attract the men that Hilda is interested in; Tom Shaw, head of the local education authority who gives Mar ...more
Elyse  Walters
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Chris Cleave is another one of those authors - who just can't do anything wrong in my book.... I simply adore this author.

I like 'all' of his styles of writing!

"Little Bee", was read by every book club in the Bay Area. A wonderful book!
Everyone was talking about it!!

When "Gold", came out...I JUMPED on it the week it was released. Paul, my husband, and I were also watching the 'real' Olympic events on TV. I had a blast with this story. Paul was competing as a cyclist in those days himself--hav
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first novel of Chris Cleaves I've read and I can see why he has such devoted fans. This was a strikingly honest look at the changes war creates on a country's landscape and its people. These changes were so strongly shown by the progressive style of this novel. Bit by bit, we are privy to each characters transformation. I loved the fact that this was loosely based on Cleaves grandparents own story. What a great tribute to what they endured. War gives birth to many endings, also to ma ...more
May 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Just when one thinks that there cannot possibly be a new angle with which to explore World War II, an author pens a book that has readers discovering all over again why this time period is the inspiration for so many meaningful books.

Chris Cleave, author of the eye-opening Little Bee (if you haven't read this one, do yourself a favor and add it to your TBR list today), gives us a view of the Second World War in London and Malta through the eyes of Mary and her friend Hilda (socialites who want t
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
4.5 stars!

We live, you see, and even a mule like me must learn. I was brought up to believe that everyone brave is forgiven, but in wartime courage is cheap and clemency out of season.

My first novel by Chris Cleave. And it was beautiful in a way that made my heart ache. This was far from my first historical fiction novel centered around WW2. Some of my favorite novels are ww2 historical fictions, such as The Nightingale and The Storyteller, as well as All the Light We Cannot See. Each one might
RoseMary Achey
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
With a backdrop of World War II and the London Blitz, I expected more from this book. I found the character's flat and the story line recycled. Forbidden romance between members of different social strata, female ambulance drivers, evacuated children, destroyed buildings and the brutal horrors of war are all topics central to any WWII novel.

However, Cleave's treatment of these topics felt contrived and very thin. The author failed to give the story or characters any depth. Cleave's prose cannot
So much was written about this book already, so let me just say, this book was really entertaining. The level of cynicism and sarcasm is unheard of and unexpected in a book about Wold War II. Every conversation dripped with humor, insults and clever answers. I've read Everyone Brave is Forgiven on my electric device but I will be buying hard copy of this book for my library. Have to have it. ...more
Apr 08, 2016 rated it liked it
3.0 STARS – In the end this one just didn’t reach me!

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for a gazillion weeks. It’s that good! But wait! Isn’t this a review of Everyone Brave is Forgiven? It is but I wonder if Cleave noticed the meteoric success of ATLWCS and decided to capitalize on that success and write a knock off. Sad to say but it felt that way.

Let’s be clear. The book is very well written, full of juxtapositions, social and ethnic
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to ☮Karen by: Cindy
Chris Cleave said in an interview about this book, "I think there are two wars we have to win. One of them is against the enemy, yes, but the other is against the tendency of our own society to divide, to polarize, to fracture."  Everyone Brave is Forgiven explores both of those wars in a deep yet beautiful way.

Starting in London just before the Blitz, this is told through  the eyes of Mary, her beau Tom, and Tom's  friend Alistair, who has enlisted.  Tom and Mary are civilians providing schooli
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2
My first read of this year and I was not disappointed. This is a wonderfully written book which follows the trails and tribulations of four young people during WW2. It is not only a love story nor is it only a description of London during the war, it is a wonderful mix of beautifully descriptive writing and quite infuriating characters whom still captured my interest. I could not give it five stars ( but would have given it 4.5) because I felt the beginning to be a bit slow and trivial, this cou ...more
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Everyone Brave is Forgiven is a dream of a book and Chris Cleave is a magical writer. The story itself is ordinary and somewhat predictable: World War II and a woman in love with two men. But the characters are so real and the writing so extraordinary that I found myself moved to tears repeatedly. Of the many books I've read set during the second World War, none has been more beautiful and yet still harsh in its presentation of the horrors of that war, of any war.

It's 1940 and London is being bo
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Theirs was a generation whose choices were made quickly, through bravery and instinct and whose hopes always hung by a thread. They had to have enormous faith in life and in each other. They wrote letters in ink and these missives might take weeks or months to get through if they made it at all. Because a letter meant so much they poured themselves into each one--as if there might be no more paper, no more ink, no more animating hand.

This was the only poignant excerpt I gathered from this book a
Angela M
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Since I read Little Bee several years ago, it wasn't until I read Chris Cleave's introductory letter to the readers of this novel that I remembered what a good writer he is . It was lovely to read about how this novel set mainly in London and Malta during WWII , was inspired by his grandparents. What might have been a matter of fact telling of the seed for the book was so much more , so personal. Yet as I started to read the book, I had a hard time being drawn in.

Mary, a privileged young woman
Peter Boyle
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
"This was how a kind heart broke, after all: inward, making no shrapnel."

World War II is a popular topic in literary fiction. It has been the inspiration for some unforgettable gems in recent years such as Atonement, The Night Watch and All the Light We Cannot See. And now Chris Cleave's first foray into the historical genre can be added to that impressive list.

On the first page we are introduced to Mary North, a passionate and clever young woman who signs up for action on the very same day that
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the story of Mary, Hilda, Tom and Alastair during WW2 in London and it's a humorously sad tale. It's one of those books that you could highlight a sentence on every page for quotes you don't want to forget. This book reminded me of those old posters you see of women drinking tea on rubble during the blitz. It made me smile with tears in my eyes. Would definitely recommend. ...more
Scott  Hitchcock
DNF @25%.

Audiobook. The narrator was the one bright spot.

If I could describe the book in one word it would be tedious. The characters, plot, interactions.........all tedious.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's almost as though this novel was written by two different authors. The descriptive writing is brilliant, beautifully crafted and often philosophically incisive; the dialogue on the other hand is relentlessly flippant like sitcom banter. What this means is the characters remain rather flimsy. (Hugh Grant could effortlessly play all the male roles in a film!)

The two central characters are naïve, good-hearted blunderers, trying to preserve peacetime ethics in a time of war. All the characters i
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it
A WWII story that didn't touch my heart unfortunately. ...more
When WWII comes to London, young Mary greets it enthusiastically; determined to prove her independence from her family and from society's expectations of a girl of her "status", Mary enlists in the war effort, at first teaching, then driving an ambulance. While teaching, she meets Tom, an official from the school district who has been exempted from serving in the armed forces because of his position. Meanwhile, Tom's friend Alastair enlists and is thrust into the horrors of battle. To complete t ...more
Roger Brunyate
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: race, ww2
Old Tropes Mostly Well Handled

This was my first Cleave novel, and I didn't know what to expect. The first section, PRESERVATION, begins in 1939 with the declaration of war. Mary North, 18, English upper class, at once leaves her Swiss finishing school and comes back to report to the War Office. All right, then: we have been here before, many times—of course she is going to be trained as a spy. But no, first surprise, she is assigned to teach in a school, to free up people who are really needed.
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Chris Cleave had a fan for life when he wrote Little Bee, a book I thought was powerful and mesmerizing. But then he followed it with Gold, and appeared to be trading in his literary gifts in exchange for pursuit of a best seller. In his latest book – inspired by his grandparents’ role in the Second World War – he’s totally back in form with a book that kept me turning pages well into the night. It’s a labor of love and it shows.

The book centers on a few memorable characters: Mary North, the aff
Bam cooks the books ;-)
*4.5 stars! I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoy historical fiction set during WWII and this is one of the better ones. Chris Cleave is an excellent writer who immerses the reader in the place and time so one really feels the fear, the heartbreak, the loss. But among the tears, there is also laughter, romance, and hope.

Mary North leaves finishing school as soon as war is declared and volunteers to do her part in the war effort. At 18, she finds the idea of war to be glamorous and she is sure
Susan Meissner
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love what the back cover copy says about this book:
"This dazzling novel dares us to understand that, against the great theater of world events, it is the intimate losses, the small battles, the daily human triumphs that change us most."

I keep telling myself, "Okay. No more WW2 novels! Broaden your horizon! Read about something else!" And yet I keep getting pulled back to books with this setting. Chris's new book, which earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly, is a gem, and written with su
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to TL by: firstreads giveaways
I received this via Goodreads First Reads giveaways in an exchange for an honest review.

3.5 stars
This is my first by this author :) A few problems I had with it but overall it was an enjoyable read.

The writing is gorgeous.

Attention to detail, characters, atmosphere is rich... you can 'feel' London, Malta, and her people... I felt a connection to everyone in the story, but also felt distant from them at the same time. Kind of like, they weren't sure to let me in completely or not. Consid
Joy D
Historical fiction set in WWII covering the period 1939 to 1942, emphasizing the London Blitz and the Siege of Malta. The storyline follows an ensemble of main characters. Eighteen-year-old Mary North, daughter of a politician, leads a privileged life in West London. She volunteers to assist the war effort and ends up teaching, where she meets Tom Shaw, who runs the schools, and his roommate, Alistair Heath, who has enlisted. She befriends one of her students, Zachary, a black American child. He ...more
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If I don’t read anything better this year I won’t be surprised. And to think I almost didn’t read this, suspecting, after studying so many mixed reviews, that I would be disappointed.

This felt so real and unique in detail, engaging in character and plot, and absorbing in language that coming out of reading it is a bit like being scraped out of real history to be deposited back in a shallower today.

I experienced the siege of London like never before in a book or film, and the agonies of the Mal
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Chris Cleave was born in London and spent his early years in Cameroon. He studied experimental psychology at Balliol College, Oxford. His debut novel, INCENDIARY, won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and is now a feature film. His second novel, LITTLE BEE, is a New York Times #1 bestseller with over 2 million copies in print. GOLD is his thir ...more

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