In the lead up to the announcement of the winner of our first Glass Bell award, we're going to be talking a bit about why we enjoyed each book on the short list. First up is Everyone Brave is Forgiven:
First of all, can we talk about the title? It is quite simply, beautiful and deeply affecting, much like the 464 pages that follow it. The fact that the story is set around World War Two makes it all the more poignant and the word ‘brave’ takes on a whole new meaning - at least, for me (I think I’m brave if I run out in the rain to grab my morning coffee). We owe more than we’ll ever be able to comprehend to the men and women who fought for our country and their day-to-day bravery, even in the littlest things, is mind-blowing.
I have long been a fan of Chris Cleave, since reading The Other Hand at drama school and crying in my dressing room between shows, and was very excited to read his latest. Straight away, I knew I was going to like this book - and not least because one of the children taught by protagonist Mary, is named Rita Glenister… I digress.
One of the first scenes in the book is between flatmates Tom and Alastair. They flit between the tragic and the hilarious and I found myself both laughing out loud on the morning commute, and holding my hand to my mouth, my heart having twinged at the odd sentence. It sets the tone for the entire book - one minute you’re up, the next minute, you’re devastated.
Cleave drops particular bombshells (forgive me) throughout the book when you’re least expecting it. He isn’t afraid to take away someone you, as a reader, might be falling in love with. He’s brutal, much like the passage in time he is writing about.
There is one particular section (and I shan’t ruin it for you), that left me breathless with grief and just when you think the book can’t possibly come back from it, you are gathered up in its arms, kissed on the forehead and told, “it’ll be alright”.