It's a war novel but not as you know it. Cleave, a Guardian journalist and celebrated novelist (Incendiary, The Other Hand), has reportedly written his best book to date with this tale of a young teacher determined to stay in Blitz-time London.
Loosely based on the author's grandparents' stories, this is a superb novel that breathes fresh life into an often brutal scenario. Particularly astute at demonstrating how war seeps into the psyche and changes it, this is beautifully written, funny, gut-wrenching and, above all, honest.
I was blown away by it.
A special book
An addictive, propulsive read . . . Cleave writes with an engaging intensity, a determination to tackle big moral issues, and a willingness to take risks.
Tender and touching.
Powerful and moving . . . Cleave's real revisionism exists in the very fabric of his prose.
Cleave cements his reputation as a skilful storyteller, and a sensitive chronicler of the interplay between the political and the personal . . . intricately researched and evocatively conveyed.
Absorbing [and] sharply paced.
Brilliant [and] fearlessly written . . . Thoroughly absorbing.
A compelling and finely crafted novel...The Second World War is dangerous territory for a contemporary novelist: the enemies they face include familiarity, cliché, and the reader's knowledge that any number of things happened then that were far stranger than fiction. For a writer to succeed in setting a tale in a period of heightened emotions, they need first to keep their own emotions under close control. Ian McEwan did this with Atonement, Sarah Waters did it with The Night Watch, and Chris Cleave does it too with Everyone Brave is Forgiven.
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.
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.
He has the rare ability to tell a unique story while also expressing universal truths that pierce straight into your own everyday. Sure to be one of the hits of this year.
A story of epic love inspired by grandparents and capital.
Brings both the Blitz and the siege of Malta to unforgettable life.
'War holds obvious advantages as a subject for novelists, with all its opportunities for heightened drama and extreme challenges for characters. But Cleave has taken an over familiar milieu and created something compelling... This moving novel is filled with a sense of new possibilities emerging from shattered lives.'
You'd be hard-pushed to find a list of what to read in 2016 that doesn't feature Chris Cleave's latest.
A tremendous, sweeping love story that unfolds against the backdrop of war-torn London and Malta.