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We Must Be Brave

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  8,252 ratings  ·  1,174 reviews

A powerful story that proves how love itself requires courage. --Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing

Spanning World War II and the sweep of the twentieth century, We Must Be Brave explores the fierce love that we feel for our children and the power of that love to endure. Beyond distance, beyond time, beyond life itself.

A woman. A wa
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published February 26th 2019 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published February 7th 2019)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,252 ratings  ·  1,174 reviews

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Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
We Must Be Brave was a struggle for me. I generally enjoy historical fiction but this book moved at an incredibly slow pace. It was difficult for me to get into the story, stay invested, and enjoy it. There are many positive reviews for We Must Be Brave so maybe it just wasn’t for me.

The setting is England during WWII. Ellen finds a little girl, Pamela, alone on a bus. Ellen does not have children of her own but takes Pamela in and becomes close with her. Pamela leaves Ellen’s home later in the
Angela M
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars rounded up.

Even though the war feels as if it’s at a distance from Upton, a small English village, the villagers are not immune to its impact in this War II story. As the bombs fall, children are separated from their mothers and fathers, for their safety with hopes of being reunited after the war, sometimes they are separated by circumstances they can’t control and there is no hope of reuniting. A lost, orphaned little girl, Pamela whose life is forever changed, forever changes the l
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Christine by: Angela review
3.5 rounded to 4 stars

I have mixed feelings about We Must Be Brave. On the whole, I enjoyed it and do recommend it. When I put it on reserve at the library, I thought I was going to get a book set during the Second World War. In fairness, most of it was, but the war itself was primarily a backdrop; I didn’t learn much about the war itself. I was disappointed for half the book, but by the end, I was appreciating the story for what it was—a tale with major themes being love, family, loss, yearning
Éimhear (A Little Haze)
Now published in hardback.

from the blurb..."December, 1940. As German bombs fall on Southampton, the city’s residents flee to the surrounding villages. In Upton village, amid the chaos, newly-married Ellen Parr finds a girl sleeping, unclaimed at the back of an empty bus. Little Pamela, it seems, is entirely alone.

Ellen has always believed she does not want children, but when she takes Pamela into her home the child cracks open the past Ellen thought she had escaped and the future she and her hu
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
We Must Be Brave is sort of a World War II story, but only in the barest of ways. It opens so strongly, with young (early 20s) Ellen finding a child, Pamela, alone on a bus in London in the confusion off the bombings. She tries to find Pamela's mother, who Pamela is anxious to be reunited with, and--yes, you can guess how it goes.

There's a lot (a lot) of description of food--the scarcity of it, what can be created with what's available--but although I normally am crazy for this kind of thing, i
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
From the beginning when I started to read the book I had issues about the sad and true story that the author tells.
I have heard a lot of war stories, I was part of a war and my parents told me everything they went through just so we can be alive and together and this novel is no different.
I wish there was no war anywhere in the world and the story of Ellen the main character in the book is so touchy with every person she connects and loses and she always decided to be brave that's our best to be
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
The cover was so beautiful while both the title and blurb enticing. Yet, the dialogue was beyond cluttered and the story kept regurgitating the same anecdote. There were too many characters revolving around the story that there was no substance. I kept reading, hoping it would get better until finally I realized it wasn't.
Historically located in England during WWII, the reader will see German bombs drop on England but only from the inside of a shelter. Nothing else of historical relevance.

Jul 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: own-read, hard-copy
To say this book was a struggle would be an understatement. This book needed to be at least 100 pages shorter and was so slow and boring I gave up halfway.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I finished We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet a few days ago. All the emotions I had when I finished the book still lingered. The feelings of sadness, sorrow, hope and most of all the feeling of love still lingered days after I read this book.

This is a story set in England during WWII period and about a 4 year old girl Pamela being left behind on a bus and Ellen, the main character from the book, picked her up and bought her home herself so the little girl can stay safe. The story started from
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The publisher's summary suggests this is a story of World War II and the heartbreak of tearing families apart, but it is so much more. A young child is taken in by a couple when her mother is killed by a bomb. Despite the husband's misgivings, his young wife Ellen connects to traumatized Pamela and throughout the horrors of war, she creates a cocoon of love for the little girl. The special relationship is ripped apart when the child's father reappears. The book is not yet half complete when Pame ...more

We Must Be Brave started off with a little bang. Not a big bang.. but it was enough to get me invested. I wanted to know why this little girl was on the bus all by herself. Where her mother or father was at. Why she was so hard to wake up (I mean I sleep like the dead.. but at one point, if you keep poking the sleeping bear -
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, historical
I finished this book at the end of my lunch hour and returned to work slightly red eyed and a bit sniffy but filled with the joy of a marvellous ending to a wonderful book. This beautifully told, heartfelt novel tells a story of love, loss and discovery spanning the 20th century. Looking at the bonds between parent and child and the hard decisions that are sometimes necessary we are shown that families, whether those we are born into or those that find us, always play a part in making us the peo ...more
Michael Cayley
A story of loss which straddles the period from just after WW1 to the beginning of the 21st century.

It starts an air raid on Southampton during WW2. A little girl called Pamela is separated from her mother and taken by bus to a nearby village. Selwyn and Ellen take her in on a short-term emergency basis, and end up giving her a home after her mother is found to have died in the raid.

The core of the book is Ellen’s life story and the next section is a retrospective portrayal of her moving from co
rina dunn
May 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Oh boy! Where to start with this one!
I really like historical fiction but it has to keep my attention and this one in all honesty felt like it was dragging a lot!
Don't get me wrong there are parts of this book I loved! I think the relationships are beautiful between characters especially Ellen and Pamela.
I love that this book highlights what it must have been like for children growing up in a war the only thing I struggled with was the lack of war talk! It's probably gruesome to want more deta
Theresa Smith
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This novel was just divine. Such a beautifully moving study on love, compassion, and courage. It examines the different ways in which people can make an impact on the lives of others and explores the many different types of love that can exist. This novel covers a large period of time, it’s quiet and literary, character driven for most of the way; I just adored every single page.

“Do you know why I’m not frightened of the cold? Because I know about it. How you can let it sink right into your bone
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brave I kept hearing about this book on Goodreads so I put in my request at the library.  The majority of the book is set in the WW II era, one of my preferred  time periods, and it's set in and around Upton England .

We start with a busload of people evacuating Southhampton, heading to the rural town of Upton during WW II.  Ellen Parr notices a small girl sleeping on the bus after everyone departs.  Whose child is this?  Where is her mother? Ellen gathers the little girl in her arms and makes inquiri
Adele Shea
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Frances Liardet's, We Must Be Brave, is heartwarming at its best. I dare you to not falm in love with the characters. ...more
Susan Hampson
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
This is a story that not only touched my heart it squeezed it dry. War stories are always tear jerkers and this one was no exception for me. It isn’t a front line story, this is a story of a childless woman and an abandoned three-year old girl wrapped in a blanket and left on a bus. But the story goes way past the end of the war.
Ellen was married and quite adamant that she did not want a family but the day she found Pamela she knew that she needed this little girl in her life as much as the litt
Kayleigh Kehoe ♡

I could not bring myself to enjoy this as much as I imagine others would.

Although I did love the whimsical, compelling narrative of this book, it kept me going when I was horrifically bored, but the plot - or execution - wasn't there for me.

This was described to me as an emotional book, a tale about love and loss in the second world war; however I really struggled to distinguish the love in this book from perpetuated
Mar 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
Stopped reading about 1/5 into the book - got tired of reading about some whiny child and a woman who consistently deferred to her husband. Maybe the book/story gets better, but life's too short...... ...more
Mary Kate
Jun 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
It’s the year 1940 and WWII is in full force. In a small English town of Upton, newly married, Ellen, discovers a 4-year old girl named Pamela, left behind inside a bus. Without a parent in sight, Ellen takes in Pamela and cares for her, despite her husband’s hesitance. Ellen later learns that Pamela’s mother died from a bombing and Pamela’s father isn’t in the picture. So Pamela becomes a fixture in Ellen’s life. She feels a connection to Pamela because she’s lost so much, like Ellen did during ...more
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
This book totally sold me on a completely different story to the one I read. Expecting to read a historical fiction book about an abandoned child left in a remote village in 1940 I was very excited to pick this up but most of the book didn't even revolve around the events of Pamela's abandonment or the time period I wanted to read about. Most of this book had no plot- or if it did it was not a plot I cared to read about. I found Ellen and Pamela extremely irritating and bland characters so reall ...more
A slow-moving but beautiful story about love for others, especially parents for their children. A tale that highlights kindness, sacrifice, letting go but never forgetting, enduring through loss, finding joy in everyday moments, love with all its joys and sorrows—and all the things that make life worth living. And I did have to keep my tissues handy. Touching and tender.
May 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
This probably makes my top 5 of most boring books ever. SLOW!!
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
We Must We Brave
by Frances Liardet

A pleasant story of a married, childless woman who finds an abandoned child on a bus during World War II. The story takes place in an English country village. There is a lingering mystery that is teased about the woman that is not that well developed.

The story is about human relations which is not a topic that holds much interest for me. It is therefore difficult to find much to praise about this book. I am sure that someone who enjoys reading about the interact
May 03, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Usually I only give one star if I find the message of the book morally abhorrent. This book was not morally problematic, but I'm making an exception to this rule because this book was so boring and dumb. There really is no overarching plot or central conflict. It is all about interpersonal relationships (such as the relationship between Ellen and Pamela, and Ellen and her husband) except none of the relationships have any chemistry. The book just slowly narrates over several decades with no real ...more
"We Must Be Brave" is story of a married, childless woman who finds a little orphan girl left behind by her mother. Their relationship grows and as well as their love for each other. It was very sweet relationship until Pamela's father shows up out of nowhere to claim her back. It was really sad watching Ellen try to do what is best for Pamela while she still loved her as a daughter and wanted to keep her at home. I wasn't terribly interested in the story... It was a slow-read and I could tell i ...more
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: shelf-awareness
This is a beach read disguised as historical fiction.

Some defining characteristics of a beach read: light, sort of airy tones. There’s conflict of some kind, but it never really feels like anyone or anything is in actual danger of not being ok in the end. Fuzzy happy warm feelings of happy at the end.

So you can imagine that a book emphasizing WWII that has those characteristics probably isn’t all that riveting. It’s sweet and a little sad, but the sadness doesn’t last because you know the caus
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Frances Liardet is a child of the children of the Second World War. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and studied Arabic at Oxford before travelling to Cairo to work as a translator. She currently lives in Somerset with her husband and daughter, and runs a summer writing session called Bootcamp. Her first novel, The Game, won a Betty Trask award. We Must Be Brave ...more

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