Everyone Brave Is Forgiven

Written by Chris Cleave
Review by Edward James

This is a serious book about serious themes in serious times, written in a tragicomic style which easily lapses into facetiousness. It took me some time to relate to the characters, but the effort was repaid. It probably has a special resonance for me, having lived through (and almost not) the bombardment of London in WW2.  How can anybody who has not been through it know how it felt? Yet Chris Cleave does, and he was not even born at the time; he also knows how to share it with his readers. He can even convey the unique mental disorientation caused by the decompression effect of bomb blast.

The story was inspired by the experience of the author’s grandparents in the London Blitz and the siege of Malta, but it is not a fictional memoir. Rather it is an homage to the ordinary people who endured so much and bore it so bravely. Basically it is a love story between a schoolteacher and a young officer, both of them mentally and physically scarred by war. I disliked them both initially and ended the book caring strongly that things would work out well for them.