Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
If only everyone were witty in wartime. The characters in Chris Cleave’s latest novel “Everyone Brave Is Forgiven” are far too clever for the novel’s good. Cleave is trying to tell many stories—the brutal efforts of the British to stave off starvation and Nazi invasion in Malta, education and duty in wartime, the fragile relationships between Mary and Hilda, Mary and her mother, Mary and her butler and Tom and Alistair and the little boy Zachary—and never delving deep enough.
The constant stiff upper lip and blithe humor just as the British are joining World War II and when the Nazis destroy much of London comes off as glib. Certainly, the author weaves a visual tapestry that makes London’s dismemberment come alive. However, the forced juxtaposition between white and black, privileged and working class—though an art restorer barely scrapes the surface of 1940s working class—feels condescending.