"Everyone Brave Is Forgiven" -- A Chat with Novelist Chris Cleave

Mar 8, 2017

Our guest on ST is Chris Cleave, the British novelist whose bestselling WWII-era yarn, "Everyone Brave Is Forgiven," has just appeared in paperback. As was noted of this book by an Amazon critic, when it was named (after first appearing in hardcover) as a Best Book of May 2016: "We've been wondering lately: What is the secret sauce that makes novels like Anthony Doerr's 'All the Light We Cannot See' and Kristin Hannah's 'The Nightingale' so popular, stories set against the backdrop of WWII? Whatever it is, it made me approach Chris Cleave's 'Everyone Brave Is Forgiven' with a particularly wary eye. Sure, it's got all of the ingredients -- heroes and heroines who are flawed yet admirable. Check! A love story that manages to be poignant without being precious. Check! It even has cover art that is, as an astute colleague put it, a little cartoonish but appealingly 'Disney-London.' If you're a terrible cook like me, however, you know that you can have all of the right ingredients and still concoct something utterly inedible. But this couldn't be farther from the case with 'Brave,' which was inspired by love letters that Cleave unearthed from his grandparents. The non-love story aspects of this novel are just as compelling, and add a layer of gravitas to a story that could easily slip into 'sudsy' territory. These parts provide a chilling reminder that it wasn't just the Jews who were marginalized and punished during WWII, but black children, poor children, and the otherwise 'different' or disenfranchised. Moreover, through the character of Mary North, [this novel] emphasizes the importance of challenging injustices. This timeless message is another key ingredient in what is sure to be another beloved (WWII) novel." Note that Cleave will be reading from this book, and signing copies of it, tonight (Wednesday the 8th) at 7pm at the TCCL's Central Library. The event is presented by Book Smart Tulsa and free to the public.