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The Brave Hardcover – October 12, 2010

3.9 out of 5 stars 119 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As a student at the Ashlawn Preparatory School in 1959 England, eight-year-old, cowboy-crazy Tommy Bedford, the hero of Evans's latest outdoor soap opera, is teased for being a bed wetter and gets the shock of his young life when he learns that his sister, glamorous "Next Big Thing" actress Diane Reed, is really his mother. Soon afterwards, she and Tommy move to L.A., where Diane falls for TV cowboy Ray Montane, and their tortured relationship leads to a horrifying act of violence that has lifelong repercussions for Tommy. In a parallel, present-day plot, 50-ish Tom, now a writer and documentary filmmaker who specializes in the American West, lives in Montana, is divorced and estranged from his adult son, Danny, who has been accused of committing an atrocity while serving in Iraq, for which he will be tried in a military court. Alternating past and present, Evans expertly juggles his twin narratives until they come shatteringly together as father and son yield to the combined weight of the secrets they hide. Combining elements of the prep school drama, the Hollywood novel, the western, and the war story, Evans (The Horse Whisperer) skillfully mixes genres to create a real crowd-pleaser.
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From Booklist

“It’s complicated” doesn’t come close to describing Tom Bedford’s family history. As a child in 1950s England, Tom worships two things: American TV westerns and his sophisticated sister, Diane, a promising young actress. His parents, though, are another matter. Cold, distant, and old, they selfishly banish Tom to Dickensian boarding schools. When Diane lands a screen test that will catapult her from the London stage to a Hollywood movie set, she first springs Tom from school and then informs him that those people are actually his grandparents. She, not the alcoholic shrew who raised him, is his real mother. And the news keeps getting better: his new dad will be none other than rugged TV cowboy Ray Montane. But life in Tinseltown turns dark when Ray begins mercilessly beating Diane. Reflecting on his life once he becomes a divorced father with a failed relationship with his only son, a marine serving in Iraq who is accused of heinous war crimes, Tom must reconcile his past. Ever the master of intense and complex relationships, Evans has crafted a time-traveling plot that admirably juggles issues of identity and fidelity to one’s self and one’s principles. --Carol Haggas
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316033782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316033787
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Our first view of Tommy Bedford is when a sympathetic prison guard is escorting him, at age thirteen, to see his mother, before she's executed after being found guilty of murder.

The actual story begins in 1959, when Tom is eight-years-old. He lives in England, in a world where his heroes are the cowboy stars of Western TV shows. He owns a photo of Flint McCullough, star of Wagon Train, which Tom cherishes.

Tom is a meek boy who is attempting to cope with a nighttime bed wetting problem. His parents are understanding and sympathetic but they are much older than the parents of his friends.

He's sent to Ashlawn Prep, boarding school, to toughen him up. The school, an imposing, Gothic mansion had been a mental hospital and is a cold, frightening facility for this little boy. There is similarity to Tom Brown in the novel by Thomas Hughes, which took place at an English boarding school in the 1830s.

Tom's bed wetting is discovered by other students and he undergoes such bullying and sadistic behavior by one faculty member that he smuggles a letter to his sister, Diane. He thinks that Diane is the only one who would understand and he pleads with her to get him out of the school.

Upon receiving the letter, Diane is brought to tears with compassion but she's not in position to help. She's a young actress, on the brink of success.

It's not for another year when Diane becomes a successful actress. She has moved to Hollywood, where she met actor Ray Montane, who is famous for his cowboy character, Red McGraw.

Imagine the effect on the little boy, now age nine, when his actress sister, and her famous boyfriend come to the school. Tom's esteem soars but then Diane tells him that she's not his sister, but is his mother.
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Format: Hardcover
I LOVED this book. One of my favorite books of all time is THE HORSE WHISPERER and this book comes close to topping that. THE BRAVE has all the elements of a top-notch bestseller. It moves along briskly and changes time and place frequently, enough to keep the reader moving along and never getting bored. Evans' attention to detail is meticulous, especially all the references to 1960's Hollywood. I found myself rapt in all the people and places he referenced. I could almost feel like I was a part of that era in Hollywood history while I was reading.

The characters were all interesting, especially Tom, the star of the book. I also found his mother to be a unique, if tragic figure. The character of TV-western fame Ray Montane was a bit of an enigma to me. He seemed to have good intentions but we all know what the road to Hell is paved with. All the characters play pivotal roles in the events that lead to a shocking conclusion.

I can not recommend this book highly enough. I am shocked that there aren't more 5-star reviews because THE BRAVE really is one of the best books I have read this year. It has a little something for everyone. It is written by a man and exudes masculinity, however the storyline is one that women will find themselves drawn to. I think we all can learn something from this wonderful book. I strongly suggest you check it out sooner rather than later. 5 very solid stars.
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Format: Hardcover
Nicholas Evans, best known for his bestselling "The Horse Whisperer," has a gift of creating believable characters and developing them over the course of a novel. He gives his prose and settings a masculine feel, while keeping the themes more feminine-friendly, focused on family and love and jilted relationships. It's a formula that's worked, though it was beginning to feel like, well . . . a formula.

In this latest effort, Evans varies his themes and structure, giving us his most ambitious work yet. It's aptly titled, since his approach is brave in its attempt to go into new territory on new trails. We start off with young Tommy as he deals with childhood, bed-wetting, and bullying at an English boarding school. I was thankful for this different direction, and found myself caught up in young Tommy's struggles. The prologue, though, clued me in to drama and violence to come. Sure enough, the story takes some turns within a few chapters, and less than a hundred pages in throws readers for a good twist. It works. But it also feels a bit pedantic, the way Evans spends pages going back to explain how it came to be.

Tommy ends up in Hollywood with his mother and step-father, part of the movie industry scene. He remains relatively unblemished by an era that is known to have been saturated in sexual and narcotic misadventures, but his mother is not so fortunate. The step-father becomes increasingly abusive, and his mother is pushed to make some fateful decisions (yes, this is where the typical Evans comes in). It's really no surprise when she ends up in the arms of, you guessed it, a man in Montana who has a gift with horses. Yawn.
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Format: Hardcover
Tommy Bedford grows up in Britain in the 1950s, idolizing the rugged American cowboys he sees on television. He finds joy in these heroes and escapes to their imaginary world, fleeing --- at least in his mind --- a home where there is little love. His much-older sister is beautiful, and he idolizes her. She is an actress who is working on her craft both on the stage and in films. Tommy is shipped off to a traditional boarding school --- a menacing and abusive place --- where he is tormented by the other boys for his bedwetting and ostracized until one day, at a family day event, his sister drives up looking in every way a star, and with her is the actor who plays his cowboy hero.

Diane sees how tormented her son is and decides to reveal a well-kept secret. She is not Tommy's sister, but rather his mother. Diane was only a teenager when Tommy was conceived, so instead of having the stigma of bearing a child out of wedlock, she told no one except her family about the birth and arranged for her parents to raise the boy as their own. At first this worked, but through time, Tommy has become a distant and eccentric child, more focused on his TV shows than anything else. Diane has matured and wants her boy back, realizing she can support him as an actress in the American film world. She sees her mistakes clearly and recognizes that he belongs with her

Tommy is understandably shocked by this reveal, but Diane is a loving mother to whom he has always been close. He settles into his new life, and the world starts to look up. Big offers are coming in for Diane from bigwigs in Hollywood, and Tommy meets some of his childhood idols, most notably the actor who played his favorite character on TV: Ray Montane.
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