We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet

We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet

Frances Liardet comes to the blog today with a story of love, war, and loss.

We Must Be Brave

Divided into multiple sections, each narrated with Ellen’s voice and taking place during the war, the aftermath and the years that brought Ellen to be the woman she was. Plot and layout wise, the sections often were clever if unevenly paced, and the flipping back and forth with present and remembered or hoped for moments tended to highlight that unevenness. Unfortunately, that uneven pacing led to a general disillusionment with the book – once put down I was loathe to pick it up and start again.

Part of the issue, I think, arises from the author’s determination to correlate her own personal losses to that of Ellen, and to repeatedly pick at that wound of loss and deprivation until it became a hammer banging repeatedly: when you think it’s a happy moment, the hammer drops again and everything is turned into yet another moment for Ellen to wallow and perseverate. Sadly, and I say this because the concept was wonderful and probably not too farfetched from reality – especially with the evacuations of children to the counties during the Blitz. And Liardet’s writing is rather conversational and descriptive, if not lending itself completely to character development. It was another of the many titles I’ve read that are ‘home front’ stories from the war, not perfect but a read that requires patience and a willingness to pick it up repeatedly after taking a break.


We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet

Title: We Must be Brave
Author: Frances Liardet
Genre: British, Family Saga, Historical Fiction, Setting: Britain, World War II
Published by: Putnam Adult
ISBN: 0735218862
Published on: 26 February, 2019
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Pages: 464
Audio Length: 16 Hours: 7 minutes
Rated: two-half-stars
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See this Title on Goodreads

One woman. One little girl. The war that changed everything.

December 1940. In the disorderly evacuation of Southampton, England, newly married Ellen Parr finds a small child asleep on the backseat of an empty bus. No one knows who little Pamela is.

Ellen professed not to want children with her older husband, and when she takes Pamela into her home and rapidly into her heart, she discovers that this is true: Ellen doesn't want children. She wants only Pamela. Three golden years pass as the Second World War rages on. Then one day Pamela is taken away, screaming. Ellen is no stranger to sorrow, but when she returns to the quiet village life she's long lived, she finds herself asking: In a world changed by war, is it fair to wish for an unchanged heart?

In the spirit of We Were the Lucky Ones and The Nightingale, here is a novel about courage and kindness, hardship and friendship, and the astonishing power of love.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.


About Frances Liardet

Frances Liardet has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and studied Arabic at Oxford before traveling to Cairo, where she translated modern Egyptian novelists including Nobel-prize winner Naguib Mahfouz and Edwar al-Kharrat. She currently lives in Somerset, England, and helps to run a summer writing session called Bootcamp, where local writers get together to share work and constructive criticism. Her first novel, The Game, won a Betty Trask Award.


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