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We Must Be Brave

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  4,092 ratings  ·  691 reviews

Spanning 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.

"This stirring debut will work its way indelibly into your heart." --Georgia Hunter, author of We Were the Lucky Ones

A woman. A war. The child who
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published February 26th 2019 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published February 7th 2019)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,092 ratings  ·  691 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
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,
Emer (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
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,
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

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 -
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.

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.
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 ...more
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
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, fiction
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 ...more
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
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
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.
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 inquiries of
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
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
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.
"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 ...more
Brenda A
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
Kayleigh Kehoe ♡
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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 self
The cover of this book drew me in. After reading that the setting is in England during World War II told me this was a must read for me. I love good historical fiction.

I started out really enjoying the story. I know the author put her heart into this emotional story. But at some point, I just kind of lost interest. When a book starts dragging, I start skimming which I did.

Honestly, the book was good through I expected more. The slowness of the story is 3 stars.

* I was provided an ARC from
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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......
Angela Petch
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Well, I am feeling bereft. What do I read next? How can I be swept up again, like I was with this beautiful book I picked up in the library? Swept up, wrung out with sadness, picked up again, only to be devastated 0nce more and then, finally given hope. What a story. An ordinary story, but so complex, that took five years to write. I have asked for my own copy for my birthday. I need to see this on my bookshelf.
This is a tale that introduces us to a situation caused by the war. A tiny girl,
This book really got me. At first when I began reading it I was hooked because there was the mystery of a little 4 year old girl and I desperately wanted to know how she was in the situation she was in and why. As the book progressed, it didn't hold my interest throughout; however, I thought the writing was beautiful and lyrical and the theme that spoke most to me was of love. Familial love, the love between friends, mother/daughter (biological or not), and more.

I'm a sucker for historical
Elaine Stock
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
The WW II era caught my attention, but it was more a background element which for me made the story different and interesting. A story about what family is, particularly what the strength of motherhood and love can do and enable, makes for a good read.
Regina Spiker
Favorite Quotes:
“She hadn’t smiled all morning, and I realised I’d seen the last of her smiles the previous day, and I wouldn’t see another.”

“This was what happened when you knew a woman for over forty years. You knew her thoughts, the way they ran, almost as well as you knew your own.”
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Play Book Tag: We Must Be Brave - Frances Liardet - 2.5 Stars 6 32 Jan 22, 2019 10:08AM  

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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