Written by Frances Liardet
A woman; a war; a child that changed everything.
Spanning the sweep of the twentieth century, We Must Be Brave is a luminous and profoundly moving novel about the people we rescue and the ways in which they rescue us back.
She was fast asleep on the back seat of the bus. Curled up, thumb in mouth. Four, maybe five years old.
I turned around. The last few passengers were shuffling away from me down the aisle to the doors. ‘Whose is this child?’ I called.
Nobody looked back.
December, 1940. As German bombs fall on Southampton, the city’s residents flee to the surrounding villages. In Upton village, amid the chaos, newly-married Ellen Parr finds a girl sleeping, unclaimed at the back of an empty bus. Little Pamela, it seems, is entirely alone.
Ellen has always believed she does not want children, but when she takes Pamela into her home the child cracks open the past Ellen thought she had escaped and the future she and her husband Selwyn had dreamed for themselves. As the war rages on, love grows where it was least expected, surprising them all. But with the end of the fighting comes the realization that Pamela was never theirs to keep…
A story of courage and kindness, hardship and friendship, We Must be Brave explores the fierce love we feel for our children and the astonishing power of that love to endure.
A Truly Magnificent Tale!
What a wonderful story this is. I read a lot of novels set domestically during WWII and, for me, this stands out as being truly different and all-encompassing.
We first meet Ellen Parr when the village of Upton finds itself receiving busload after busload of people who have run from the bombing in Southampton. From our first introduction, it’s obvious that the young Mrs Parr is someone to rely upon in a crisis. As the book progresses, we find out what has made Ellen this way, and where life takes her.
This is a really poignant tale, and one which does not shy away from the harsh realities of war on the home front; the shortages, the evacuation and the prevailing attitude of making the best of what life throws in your path. Ellen Parr, like most, just keeps going, doing what needs to be done and in the best way she can manage. The disclosure of how Ellen’s childhood years were spent is, at times, quite harrowing and I freely admit to shedding a tear throughout this book. It’s one that really gets under your skin, and is a truly magnificent tale. Such a well-crafted story with beautiful prose is such a delight to read, tears included. It’s my introduction to this author’s work, and I really hope to experience more in future. There is no doubt that this deserves a full five golden stars!
My thanks to publisher Harper Collins UK for my copy via NetGalley. I chose to read this, and the opinions given here are entirely my own.
Tags: domestic saga, WWII
- Format: ebook, paperback, hardback, audio
- Size: 409 pages
- Publisher: Harper Collins UK
- Publication Date: 4 February 2019
- Purchase Links: Google Play
- Barnes & Noble
- W. H. Smith
Meet the Author
Frances Liardet is a child of the children of the Second World War. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and studied Arabic at Oxford before traveling to Cairo to work as a translator. She currently lives in Somerset, England, with her husband and daughter, and runs a summer writing session called Bootcamp. We Must Be Brave is her second novel.