We Must Be Brave

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Member Reviews

It took me a while to get into this novel and I must confess I picked it up and put it down a few times. But when the alchemy finally fell into place (the right reader for the right book at the right time), I found this novel to be quite brilliant.

We Must Be Brave is an incredibly moving, sweeping story set during the second world war. The writing is sharp and stunning; author Frances Liardet knows her way around a metaphor and then some, which keeps the everyday minutiae of English village life away from being sentimental or nostalgic.

When Ellen Parr finds a small child wrapped in a dirty blanket on the back seat of a bus during the evacuation of Southampton in World War 2, it sets in motion a chain of events which will impact upon the rest of her life. Nobody knows to whom the child belongs and as it becomes clear that there isn’t anybody to claim her, Ellen and her husband Selwyn take her in. They don’t have children of their own and for Ellen, a woman who didn’t really want children, little Pamela reveals a maternal side she didn’t know she wanted.

The women in this novel feel strong, capable and brave (the title forming more of a character battle-cry, I suppose!), and though the rural setting is quaint, the writing never is, which I adored.

In a story spanning most of a century, We Must Be Brave is almost as much about the passing of time and the grief and loss that entails, as the women the novel follows.

A beautiful book.
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I loved this book. Really well written and a compelling story about the disruption caused by war, and the complicated matter of what is ‘best’ for children and those who love and care for them.
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A lovely story about human relationships and how they can be affected by outside experiences. Recommended to those who enjoy reading this type of book.
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I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Harper Collins, and the author Frances Liardet. 
I really enjoyed this book. I am a huge fan of WW2 historical fiction, and although the focus of this story is much more on the home front than the battles of this conflict, it is not to any detriment.
The characters are beautifully written and developed, and the story is emotional and incredibly engaging from the very start. I couldn't put it down. 
Highly recommended, 4 stars!
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We Must Be Brave was a rather delightful surprise of a book for me. I don’t often read books set in World War 2 - and I’m not sure why - but I thought I’d give it a go, because I knew that it was something that my mum would probably enjoy (it’s a pretty poor reason, but it’s worked out well for me!). 

The main character, Ellen Parr, and her husband Selwyn, find themselves responsible for a young girl after her mother is killed during bombing in Southampton. Pamela is a charming, independent child, who is packed to the brim with personality, and Ellen falls for her. We learn a lot about Ellen’s childhood - one of relative wealth reduced to extreme poverty when her father loses the family fortune and abandons them. This gives us some inkling as to why Pamela manages to fill a hole in Ellen’s life: a whole that Ellen wasn’t even aware of. 

I loved the supporting characters in this story. They were all such good, caring people, who all helped Ellen when she needs it most. It’s not a love story, but it is a story about love: that of a husband and wife, a woman and child, and the love of good friends. And I have to admit to crying quite a bit in the last half of this book, so a warning that you’ll need tissues! 

This book is well worth a read - and not just because I cried! It’s a really lovely story. 
Many thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins/ Fourth Estate for my copy of this book.
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I'm biased towards WWII stories anyways but I enjoyed the unique perspective and plotline within this story. This is a very emotional book with love and loss featuring heavily. All the feelings throughout
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Newly married Ellen was sure she did not want children but when she finds a lost child, Pamela, on a bus fleeing German bombs she finds herself opening up. As her own memories of her fractured childhood haunt her she realises how like her Pamela is and soon loves her as her own. But as the war draws to an end it becomes apparent that Pamela is not as alone in the world as they thought, and that she was never Ellen's to keep.

This is one of those books I rarely pick up. I'm more of a thriller type but something drew me to this story. The best thing about this is the emotion at the heart of the story, it's very genuine. The worst is that not a huge amount happens. Whilst it held my attention it, and I did enjoy it on many levels it left me feeling a little flat at the end. It's beautifully written, and is obviously a very personal story but this wasn't for me.
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thanks to netgalley and the publishers for allowing me to review this book.
What a delightful read it was. Extremely well written and well chosen characters. Beautiful. Thank you to the author who captured times gone by.
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This is a truly wonderful book, filled with love, heartbreak, courage, and loss, and oh so much more. We do not choose the families we are born to, but that does not mean we cannot create a family for ourselves. With characters beautifully drawn, situations and events crafted to wring every last drop of emotion, the author had given readers one of those books that is one your mind until long after you have finished reading it. A perfect selection for a reading group.
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We Must Be Brave is an emotional, heartwarming drama set in World War Two.  An abandoned child is taken in by a young childless wife Ellen following the bombing of Southampton and is later reunited with her father and sent to live with his family in Ireland.  The sense of loss never leaves Ellen.  A powerful novel filled with interesting characters and a strong sense of time and place.
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I am in charge of our Senior School library and am looking for a diverse array of new books to furnish their shelves with and inspire our young people to read a wider and more diverse range of books as they move through the senior school. It is hard sometimes to find books that will grab the attention of young people as their time is short and we are competing against technology and online entertainments.
This was a thought-provoking and well-written read that will appeal to young readers across the board. It had a really strong voice and a compelling narrative that I think would capture their attention and draw them in. It kept me engrossed and I think that it's so important that the books that we purchase for both our young people and our staff are appealing to as broad a range of readers as possible - as well as providing them with something a little 'different' that they might not have come across in school libraries before.
This was a really enjoyable read and I will definitely be purchasing a copy for school so that our young people can enjoy it for themselves. A satisfying and well-crafted read that I keep thinking about long after closing its final page - and that definitely makes it a must-buy for me!
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A  charming story when Ellen finds a little girl Pamela alone on a bus one night she end up looking after her for 3 years and loves her so much She doesn't have children of her own so when Pamela's father turns up and takes her to Ireland to live with family Ellen has to let her go the story spans many decade's and eventually they find each other again  Beautifully written and very poignant read
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A story about an orphan girl found on a bus after bombs had been falling during the second world war. She is found by a young woman who is determined to help and protect this young child. All the ups and downs of war times are shown, some very sad parts but some happiness. Great  conclusion.
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3.5 stars for this read that focuses on a different aspect of world war 2, on the families disrupted in England. I found this a gentle read, really got to know the characters in the country village of Upton - particularly those of Ellen, Mr Kennett and their friends. It starts with a child found alone on a bus of evacuees from a Southampton bombing that needs to be taken in and continues from there. Overall I enjoyed it but it may be a little slow for some. 

Thank you to Harper Collins UK and Netgalley for my advanced copy in exchange for an honest review
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Beautifully written. It could easily be a memoir rather than fiction.  Great take on an evacuee story - really enjoyed it.  Definitely recommend.
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Oh boy! Where to start with this one! 
I really like historical fiction but it has to keep my attention and this one in all honesty felt like it was dragging a lot!
Don't get me wrong there are parts of this book I loved! I think the relationships are beautiful between characters especially Ellen and Pamela. 
I love that this book highlights what it must have been like for children growing up in a war the only thing I struggled with was the lack of war talk! It's probably gruesome to want more details of the war but this is the area that it lacked in! I mean not a lot happened! 
Overall this book fell short for me! It's way too long for the story it tells! Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins, 4th estate for an arc in exchange for my honest review!
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The premise of this book and the first third held such promise. A toddler found on a bus of evacuated Southampton residents during the blitz by a young woman married to a much older man in a marriage blanc. Taken in by them, the young woman's life fallls apart when the child's father traces her and wants her back. After this I felt that the narrative lost its way a bit. There follows a string of undelivered letters to the child, and a whizz through the theroine and her friends lives. 

I found most of the characters a bit stereotyped: a no nonsense private school headmistress, a kindly gardener, a formidable Lady of the Manor, a sweet but stupid working class friend. Most of the villagers we meer are childless which is a bit strange. The plot is also a bit overegged, especially a late reveal about parentage that wasn't needed. Hmm... a book of two halves.
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A compelling heartfelt narrative. A quiet and understated love story. Bringing the atmosphere of the feelings of love and emotion through war-ridden times. I thoroughly enjoyed this emotional and moving book. Recommended.
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Something about this book remained vague and without depth for me, leading to the premise of the narrative and plot never quite matching the reality of what Liardet presents to readers. Despite some good initial characterisation and atmospheric scaffolding, the playing out of the saga tends to drag at times, with some of the first quarter's vim and vigour not lasting. 

Infused throughout with the theme of parental doting and love, characters are clearly intended to be fierce, physically protective and yet outwardly tender. Liardet uses sensory description to depict the impact of this parental love in how each character experiences the other. It seems that Liardet is incredibly powerful in her presentation of the small bustlings of family life in wartime England. If the drama of family life, and the amusing, emotional and at times affecting presentation of real people, real relationships and the way everyday issues can be tackled, this book possibly has a lot to offer. Well-composed but a bit too slow off the mark for my tastes.
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This is a truly remarkable story that had me in tears several times. The book begins during the Second World War and moves backwards and forwards through time. Ellen is a young wife who takes in a child during the chaos of war. The relationship between the two develops despite Ellen telling her husband she doesn’t want children. Throughout the book we also discover the hardships endured during Ellen's childhood and her unconventional but happy marriage.
This is a story of love, endurance and strength that will evoke strong emotion within the reader.
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