Author(s): Chris Cleave
The breathtaking new novel set during the Blitz by the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of the reader and bookseller favourite, Little Bee. As World War Two begins, 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 been rejected by the countryside because they are infirm, mentally disabled, or--like Mary's favorite student, Zachary--have colored skin. Tom, an education administrator, is distraught when his best friend, Alastair, enlists. Alastair, an art restorer, has always seemed far removed from the violent life to which he has now condemned himself. But Tom finds distraction in Mary, first as her employer and then as their relationship quickly develops in the emotionally charged times. When Mary meets Alastair, the three are drawn into a tragic love triangle and--while war escalates and bombs begin falling around them--further into a new world unlike any they've ever known. Moving from Blitz-torn London to the Siege of Malta, this is an epic story of love, loss, prejudice and incredible courage.
~ This is a beautifully and deftly written novel that provides a fresh perspective on WW2, from the point of view of a high-class socialite called Mary, who signs up immediately after hearing she can be of help to the war effort. It is impossible not to love her character - she is droll, clever, funny, lively and full of compassion for those that society would rather forget. Her romantic notions of being a spy are dashed when she is given the role of schoolteacher, but she quickly warms to her new role and works wonderfully with the children, developing a particularly fondness for the Negro boy in her class, Zachary, as we do. His character also highlights the racism in British society at the time, when he is evacuated from the city with the other children but finds himself starved, bullied and beaten before finally returning home when this is brought to Mary's attention. The only children left in the city are those the countryside has rejected - the misfits, the handicapped, the mentally unwell and the Blacks. It is these that Mary is determined to teach, and care for. The novel weaves together the experiences of her, her friend Hilda, her lover Tom and his flatmate, Alistair, an art curator who enlists for the war and is assigned to Malta. The prose is striking and the dialogue witty, sharp and delightfully English. The transformations each person goes through in response to their experiences of war are varied, compelling and insightfully described. I jolly well think you'd like it. Jemma
An addictive, propulsive read ... Cleave writes with an engaging intensity, a determination to tackle big moral issues, and a willingness to take risks. -- Theo Tait The Sunday Times A compelling and finely crafted novel...The Second World War is dangerous territory for a contemporary novelist: the enemies they face include familiarity, cliche, and the reader's knowledge that any number of things happened then that were far stranger than fiction. For a writer to succeed in setting a tale in a period of heightened emotions, they need first to keep their own emotions under close control. Ian McEwan did this with Atonement, Sarah Waters did it with The Night Watch, and Chris Cleave does it too with Everyone Brave is Forgiven. Financial Times Loosely based on the author's grandparents' stories, this is a superb novel that breathes fresh life into an often brutal scenario. Particularly astute at demonstrating how war seeps into the psyche and changes it, this is beautifully written, funny, gut-wrenching and, above all, honest. Daily Mail Powerful and moving ... Cleave's real revisionism exists in the very fabric of his prose. -- Lucy Scholes Independent Tender and touching. -- Eithne Farry Mail on Sunday Cleave cements his reputation as a skilful storyteller, and a sensitive chronicler of the interplay between the political and the personal ... intricately researched and evocatively conveyed. -- Hannah Beckerman Observer Absorbing [and] sharply paced. -- Helen Dunmore Guardian Brilliant [and] fearlessly written ... Thoroughly absorbing. -- Claire Allfree Metro I was blown away by it. Woman & Home A special book Good Housekeeping It's a war novel but not as you know it. Cleave, a Guardian journalist and celebrated novelist (Incendiary, The Other Hand), has reportedly written his best book to date with this tale of a young teacher determined to stay in Blitz-time London. Esquire, Top 10 Best New Novels of 2016 Magnificent and profoundly moving...This dazzling novel of World War II is full of unforgettable characters and the keen emotional insights that moved readers of Chris Cleave's Little Bee. Shelf Awareness Brings both the Blitz and the siege of Malta to unforgettable life. Irish Times With dazzling prose, sharp English wit, and compassion, Cleave paints a powerful portrait of war's effects on those who fight and those left behind. People Book of the Week He has the rare ability to tell a unique story while also expressing universal truths that pierce straight into your own everyday. Sure to be one of the hits of this year. Grazia Book Club A story of epic love inspired by grandparents and capital. Barking and Dagenham Post You'd be hard-pushed to find a list of what to read in 2016 that doesn't feature Chris Cleave's latest. Mumsnet
Chris Cleave's debut novel INCENDIARY was a prize-winner and international bestseller and his second novel, THE OTHER HAND has found phenomenal success both in the UK and abroad, hitting number one on the New York Times bestseller list. He is married with three children, and lives in Surrey. He keeps a website at www.chriscleave.com and can be found on twitter.com/chriscleave.