What a gem of a book! Everyone Brave is Forgiven is set at the outbreak of World War II, and while there are many novels set during that war, there is always something new to discover when a story is in capable hands.
Chris Cleave loosely used his grand parents’ story to tell us this one. Mary North could easily have sat out the war enclosed as her mother was in an elegant home with servants and the protection of the government. But when the war broke out she immediately saw herself as a spy and went to the War Office to volunteer her services. They assigned her as a teacher. While she might not have had much experience as a spy, she had even less as a teacher.
Tom Shaw is her superior, but not by much, and makes sure Mary has what she needs mostly, students. Tom doesn’t understand Mary’s fierce determination to teach the children the rest of London doesn’t want. In less than a week the children in her first class are sent to the countryside to be kept safe from possible London bombings. But there are children that the people in the countryside don’t want, the crippled, the feeble, the black and so they send them back. These are the children Mary is determined to stand by, keep safe and teach.
Tom also decides he is going to sit out the war but his roommate and best friend Alistair Heath does not. It is when Mary, who is engaged to Tom, and Alistair meet that hearts are examined and the war makes its own decisions.
Author Chris Cleave has given us a book that is tender, funny, emotional, and breaks your heart.