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Everyone Brave is Forgiven Hardcover – May 3, 2016
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An Amazon Best Book of May 2016: We’ve been wondering lately: What is the secret sauce that makes novels like Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale so popular, stories set against the backdrop of WWII? Whatever it is, it made me approach Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave is Forgiven with a particularly wary eye. Sure, it’s got all of the ingredients—heroes and heroines who are flawed yet admirable. Check! A love story that manages to be poignant without being precious. Check! It even has cover art that is, as an astute colleague put it, a little cartoonish but appealingly “Disney-London.” If you’re a terrible cook like me, however, you know that you can have all of the right ingredients and still concoct something utterly inedible. But this couldn’t be farther from the case with ‘Brave,’ which was inspired by love letters that Cleave unearthed from his grandparents. The non-love story aspects of this novel are just as compelling, and add a layer of gravitas to a story that could easily slip into “sudsy” territory. These parts provide a chilling reminder that it wasn’t just the Jews who were marginalized and punished during WWII, but black children, poor children, and the otherwise “different” or disenfranchised. Moreover, through the character of Mary North, ‘Brave’ emphasizes the importance of challenging injustices. This timeless message is another key ingredient in what is sure to be another beloved (WWII) novel. --Erin Kodicek
PRAISE FOR EVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN
“Cleave’s foray into historical fiction is both grand and intimate. The novel’s ability to stay small and quiet against the raging tableau of war is what also makes it glorious….an absorbing account of survival, racism, classism, love and pain, and the scars left by all of them…Cleave’s prose is imbued with a Dickensian flair, deploying brilliant metaphors and crackling dialogue.”
—New York Times Book Review, Editor's Pick
“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 Magazine Book of the Week
“[An] intimate war epic…Cleave unflinchingly exposes the personal hang-ups of his characters as they grapple with hard life choices. He harnesses his immense talent for crafting gorgeously insightful turns of phrase to show us how courage and cowardice sometimes exist side-by-side in the same person — even in the same decision…both searing and timeless.”
"The London Blitz is cinematically re-imagined in a deeply moving new novel from Chris Cleave. As he did in Little Bee, he places forthright characters in impossible situations in Everyone Brave Is Forgiven,a story set during World War II."
—Carol Memmott, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“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.”
“Among all the recent fictions about the war, Cleave's miniseries of a novel is a surprising standout, with irresistibly engaging characters who sharply illuminate issues of class, race, and wartime morality.”
“Real, engaging characters, based loosely on Cleave’s own grandparents, come alive on the page. Insightful, stark, and heartbreaking, Cleave’s latest novel portrays the irrepressible hopefulness that can arise in the face of catastrophe.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Intensely felt…Full of insight and memorably original phrasings, the story is leavened by sardonic humor… Cleave paints an emotion-filled portrait of a damaged city with its inequities amplified by war and of courageous individuals whose connections to one another make them stronger.”
“Wonderful…Everyone Brave is Forgiven asks hard questions with no easy answers, reminding us of the price we pay every day just for being human.”
PRAISE FOR CHRIS CLEAVE
Praise for Gold
“Cleave has the extremely rare power of making you smile with lively language and clever observations while he is thoroughly, irreparably breaking your heart.”
—New York Newsday
“Cleave is an acutely intelligent wordsmith. Some of the sentences cut so deep you want to scream out in pain and recognition...This is an inspirational and moving novel in so many ways, and everyone should read it.”
—The Times (UK)
Praise for Little Bee
"Little Bee will blow you away....In restrained, diamond-hard prose, Cleave alternates between these two characters' points of view as he pulls the threads of their dark -- but often funny -- story tight. What unfolds between them...is both surprising and inevitable, thoroughly satisfying if also heart-rending."
“Immensely readable and moving…an affecting story of human triumph.”
—The New York Times Book Review
Praise for Incendiary
"A mesmerizing tour de force: ragged, breathless, full of raw emotion, the blackest of humor and relentless action."
—The Washington Post Book World
"Brilliant...This is a haunting work of art."
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And life toddles along nicely for her at first. She gets a job and likes the job. She even gets a man and likes the man. But things start going badly soon after. To put it succinctly, Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, at its core, is a love story, but oh dear Lord, there will be a lot of suffering for that happy ending. Prepare yourself.
Ironically, while I ended up enjoying this book, it took me a long 50 pages to really get into it. Initially, I found myself putting the book down about every four pages because it irritated me so very much. Mary's exhausting (borderline unrealistic) optimism coupled with author Cleave's "Look what I can do!" verbosity was just too much. There's a fine line between being descriptive and being a wordsmith show-off. Cleave can paint a pretty word picture, but sometimes it distracts from the real story. There were moments when I really wanted Cleave to descend from his Word Throne and just talk to me like a commoner already. Ugh.
But after that 50-page mark, something changed for me. It might have been that I grew accustomed to Cleave's writing style, or maybe it was that Mary and Alistair finally meet and experience the CONNECTION they aren't supposed to, but, suddenly things start getting good. The story picks up and digs in. The characters come to life. They're funny! And the back-and-forth between them is witty and truly entertaining. I found myself relating to these people finally, empathizing with and understanding them. I genuinely started to care. And the rest of the book is so darn good.
The beginning of the story may have been a chore to get through, but, wow, I ended up LOVING this story. The complexity, the depth, the sadness, and--dare I say?--even the writing, all combined to create a beautiful novel. I'm so glad I pushed past those first few pages, because Everyone Brave Is Forgiven is an absolute gem.
JOHN NEUFELD, author of
EDGAR ALLAN,and LISA,BRIGHT AND DARK (both Kindled)