The breathtaking new novel from the multiaward-winning author of The Other Hand.
When war is declared, Mary North leaves finishing school unfinished, goes straight to the War Office, and signs up.
Tom Shaw decides to give it a miss - until his flatmate, Alistair, unexpectedly enlists, and the conflict can no longer be avoided.
Young, bright and brave, Mary is certain she'd be a marvelous spy. When she is - bewilderingly - made a teacher, she instead finds herself defying prejudice to protect the children her country would rather forget.
Tom, meanwhile, finds that he will do anything for Mary. And when Mary and Alistair meet, it is love as well as war that will test them in ways they could not have imagined, entangling three lives in violence and passion, friendship and deception, inexorably shaping their hopes and dreams.
In a powerful combination of both humour and heartbreak, this dazzling novel weaves little-known history and a perfect love story through the vast sweep of the Second World War - daring us to understand that against the great theatre of world events, it is the intimate losses, the small battles, the daily human triumphs that change us most.
©2016 Chris Cleave (P)2016 Hodder & Stoughton
This book took me completely by surprise. I listened to the first few chapters several times and It still made me laugh out loud with delight.
As the war progresses and the confidence and certainty of the main characters begins to disintegrate, the brilliant colours of the opening chapters darken and fade. The humour, which is always present, becomes bleaker and sharper.
I love the fact that Tom's jar of Blackberry jam takes on the significance of preserving colour and ultimately, redemption.
The narration was extraordinary. It was hard to believe there was only one narrator, so skilfully did Luke Thompson inhabit the different characters.
I cannot recommend this audible book enough.
This was a great story set at the outbreak of WW2, with romance, testing of friendships, tragedy and triumphs. However, overall it missed something, that could have made it a great book.
Mr Cleave describes in great detail various really unimportant bits but when the chips were down and something major was happening like war, death and tragedy it was just not given the description and emotion it deserved. I had to rewind a couple of times thinking I had missed something.
An example was the diarrhoea like explosion of adjectives for the opening of the blackberry jam, but the death of one of the main characters was a couple of short sentences, with no real emotion. So that's why I gave it a low overall score.
The narration by Luke Thompson was perfect, his women's voices exceptional which makes me recommend this book despite the problems I have mentioned.
No probably not. Entertainly , interesting and a little conventional. But read well, good characterisation & unusual situations.
Only the Brave - Beautiful prose, excellent narration and not a bad story. a strong there of relationships running through all characters.
I never really appreciated how horrendous WWII was, I studied it at school like most people did but the range of emotions this book brought out it me was huge.
I felt the fear that Alasdair did when in Dunkirk and the trenches and anger at the silly, immature girls wanting to go and view the bombing sites as they thought it was exciting instead of being sorry at the great loss of the residents, and then a part of the evacuation process that I was unaware of, the almost racist aspect to it. Coloured children and the mentally and physically disabled were left behind in the cities when the able bodied kids were evacuated to the country. So many emotions will provoke you here, I really recommend it.
Avid reader but quite new to audio books.
I found this story to be extremely slow with very little drama and a total lack of suspense. I got half way through the book and gave up, I found the author's style of writing too flowering with the excessive use of metaphors/analogies irritating, constantly reminding me I was reading a book.
I absolutely loved this book, it's so beautifully written. Audio books are normally just background while I work or drive, but this one deserves full attention, Chris Cleave's characters, dialogue and descriptive passages are so engaging. I'm going to listen to it again right away (and I never do that!)
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