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THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A powerful story that proves how love itself requires courage. --Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing Spanning World War II and the sweep of the twentieth century, We Must Be Brave explores the fierce love that we feel for our children and the power of that love to endure. Beyond distance, beyond time, beyond life itself. A woman. A wa THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A powerful story that proves how love itself requires courage. --Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing Spanning World War II and the sweep of the twentieth century, We Must Be Brave explores the fierce love that we feel for our children and the power of that love to endure. Beyond distance, beyond time, beyond life itself. A woman. A war. The child who changed everything. December 1940. As German bombs fall on Southampton, England during World War II, the city's residents flee to the surrounding villages. In Upton village, amid the chaos, newly married Ellen Parr finds a girl asleep, unclaimed at the back of an empty bus. Little Pamela, it seems, is entirely alone. Ellen has always believed she does not want children, but when she takes Pamela into her home, the child cracks open the past Ellen thought she had escaped and the future she and her husband Selwyn had dreamed for themselves. As the war rages on, love grows where it was least expected, surprising them all. But with the end of the fighting comes the realization that Pamela was never theirs to keep. Spanning the sweep of the twentieth century, We Must Be Brave explores the fierce love that we feel for our children and the power of that love to endure. Beyond distance, beyond time, beyond life itself.


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THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A powerful story that proves how love itself requires courage. --Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing Spanning World War II and the sweep of the twentieth century, We Must Be Brave explores the fierce love that we feel for our children and the power of that love to endure. Beyond distance, beyond time, beyond life itself. A woman. A wa THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A powerful story that proves how love itself requires courage. --Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing Spanning World War II and the sweep of the twentieth century, We Must Be Brave explores the fierce love that we feel for our children and the power of that love to endure. Beyond distance, beyond time, beyond life itself. A woman. A war. The child who changed everything. December 1940. As German bombs fall on Southampton, England during World War II, the city's residents flee to the surrounding villages. In Upton village, amid the chaos, newly married Ellen Parr finds a girl asleep, unclaimed at the back of an empty bus. Little Pamela, it seems, is entirely alone. Ellen has always believed she does not want children, but when she takes Pamela into her home, the child cracks open the past Ellen thought she had escaped and the future she and her husband Selwyn had dreamed for themselves. As the war rages on, love grows where it was least expected, surprising them all. But with the end of the fighting comes the realization that Pamela was never theirs to keep. Spanning the sweep of the twentieth century, We Must Be Brave explores the fierce love that we feel for our children and the power of that love to endure. Beyond distance, beyond time, beyond life itself.

30 review for We Must Be Brave

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brandice

    We Must Be Brave was a struggle for me. I generally enjoy historical fiction but this book moved at an incredibly slow pace. It was difficult for me to get into the story, stay invested, and enjoy it. There are many positive reviews for We Must Be Brave so maybe it just wasn’t for me. The setting is England during WWII. Ellen finds a little girl, Pamela, alone on a bus. Ellen does not have children of her own but takes Pamela in and becomes close with her. Pamela leaves Ellen’s home later in the We Must Be Brave was a struggle for me. I generally enjoy historical fiction but this book moved at an incredibly slow pace. It was difficult for me to get into the story, stay invested, and enjoy it. There are many positive reviews for We Must Be Brave so maybe it just wasn’t for me. The setting is England during WWII. Ellen finds a little girl, Pamela, alone on a bus. Ellen does not have children of her own but takes Pamela in and becomes close with her. Pamela leaves Ellen’s home later in the story, which is tough on both her and Ellen. The story follows Ellen later in life (post-Pamela’s departure) and also includes flashbacks to her own childhood and earlier adult years. I found the flashbacks to be more dull than the current timeline and they didn’t really keep my interest. Ellen was a kind and caring main character, always willing to do what needed to be done to help others. I admired her care and compassion for people yet still had a hard time connecting with her, other characters, and the overall story. I also felt the book could have cut 100 pages without detracting from the story. I did, however, enjoy the book’s ending. I thought it was a nice way to conclude this story that spanned several years. Thank you to NetGalley for providing an advanced copy of We Must Be Brave in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    3.75 stars rounded up. Even though the war feels as if it’s at a distance from Upton, a small English village, the villagers are not immune to its impact in this War II story. As the bombs fall, children are separated from their mothers and fathers, for their safety with hopes of being reunited after the war, sometimes they are separated by circumstances they can’t control and there is no hope of reuniting. A lost, orphaned little girl, Pamela whose life is forever changed, forever changes the l 3.75 stars rounded up. Even though the war feels as if it’s at a distance from Upton, a small English village, the villagers are not immune to its impact in this War II story. As the bombs fall, children are separated from their mothers and fathers, for their safety with hopes of being reunited after the war, sometimes they are separated by circumstances they can’t control and there is no hope of reuniting. A lost, orphaned little girl, Pamela whose life is forever changed, forever changes the life of a young married woman, Ellen who lives in this village. Pamela immediately takes Ellen’s heart when Ellen finds the sleeping child left alone on a bus and her love for the little girl grows as deep as if the child were her own. The book begins in 1940 and moves back and forth in time to the time of Ellen’s difficult childhood, back to the time when the evacuations from South Hampton take place and then to the future. The chapters are dated and the time changes are not difficult to deal with. Ellen knew what it was like to be alone, to suffer hardship, poverty and loss so her empathy and emotional attachment to Pamela is understandable. She doesn’t wish for Ellen to be alone and she hopes to keep her. There were parts that moved a little slowly and it seemed a little long at times, so not a solid 4 stars, but I did round up. Overall, it was an moving story with a heart touching ending. While this was a story of a few characters, it highlights a piece of a bigger story of this part of the war when so many were evacuated, especially children. The author tells of a personal loss in the beginning note and I found her story to be especially moving as it certainly reflects her understanding of loss. Recommend for those who enjoy historical fiction and a good story filled with love. I received an advanced copy of this book from G.P. Putnam’s Sons through Edelweiss.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    3.5 rounded to 4 stars I have mixed feelings about We Must Be Brave. On the whole, I enjoyed it and do recommend it. When I put it on reserve at the library, I thought I was going to get a book set during the Second World War. In fairness, most of it was, but the war itself was primarily a backdrop; I didn’t learn much about the war itself. I was disappointed for half the book, but by the end, I was appreciating the story for what it was—a tale with major themes being love, family, loss, yearning 3.5 rounded to 4 stars I have mixed feelings about We Must Be Brave. On the whole, I enjoyed it and do recommend it. When I put it on reserve at the library, I thought I was going to get a book set during the Second World War. In fairness, most of it was, but the war itself was primarily a backdrop; I didn’t learn much about the war itself. I was disappointed for half the book, but by the end, I was appreciating the story for what it was—a tale with major themes being love, family, loss, yearning, and surviving. This story mostly belongs to Ellen who we follow in shifting times from childhood through age 90. I loved Ellen. She is surrounded by an excellent cast of characters whom I only wish we could know better. As the story is told almost strictly from Ellen’s viewpoint, this was not possible. I also thought the pace dragged for a significant period of time, especially during the first half. This is the main reason for the loss of 1.5 stars. On the other hand, the prose is beautiful as is the imagery, and the storyline resonated with me. The last several chapters had me captivated, and the poignancy of the final chapter made my eyes fill with tears. I much prefer books like this with a meaningful wind-down rather than a more abrupt ending. The author does a wonderful job in this respect. I suspect this is one I will remember for a while because of Ellen and also her confidant William Kennett. I just wish it had been so slow in places. Despite the turtle pace of this one, I am very open to reading another novel from Ms. Liardet.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Éimhear (A Little Haze)

    Now published in hardback. from the blurb..."December, 1940. As German bombs fall on Southampton, the city’s residents flee to the surrounding villages. In Upton village, amid the chaos, newly-married Ellen Parr finds a girl sleeping, unclaimed at the back of an empty bus. Little Pamela, it seems, is entirely alone. Ellen has always believed she does not want children, but when she takes Pamela into her home the child cracks open the past Ellen thought she had escaped and the future she and her hu Now published in hardback. from the blurb..."December, 1940. As German bombs fall on Southampton, the city’s residents flee to the surrounding villages. In Upton village, amid the chaos, newly-married Ellen Parr finds a girl sleeping, unclaimed at the back of an empty bus. Little Pamela, it seems, is entirely alone. Ellen has always believed she does not want children, but when she takes Pamela into her home the child cracks open the past Ellen thought she had escaped and the future she and her husband Selwyn had dreamed for themselves. As the war rages on, love grows where it was least expected, surprising them all. But with the end of the fighting comes the realisation that Pamela was never theirs to keep." 'We Must Be Brave' is a poignant novel that slowly reveals the life story of Ellen Parr. The book begins with her as a new bride during the Second World War and tells how she came to foster a little girl called Pamela who had been separated from her mother. The mother-daughter bond that develops between the two of them is the catalyst for the plot of the book as the book weaves in and out of different stages during Ellen's life and explores the impact that Pamela has on her life and how she lives it. The story was very touching and at times incredibly moving, but personally I found the novel to be a little too slow moving on the whole. And while I fully empathised with Ellen's character, I felt quite disconnected from many of the secondary characters and never fully got to grips with their purposes in the book. Although this was not the case with Selwyn, Ellen's husband, as I really loved their relationship and the dynamics of their marriage. I was also a fan of how the timeline was structured in the novel. I never once felt confused as to whether or not we were flashing backwards in time or moving chronologically. Overall this was a positive read for me that I am rating a strong three and a half stars. I would recommend this book to people who like both historical fiction and emotional stories and to those that are interested in reading about the triumph of the human spirit to cope with grief and loss as this book has that in abundance. *An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Harper Collins UK: 4th Estate, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    We Must Be Brave is sort of a World War II story, but only in the barest of ways. It opens so strongly, with young (early 20s) Ellen finding a child, Pamela, alone on a bus in London in the confusion off the bombings. She tries to find Pamela's mother, who Pamela is anxious to be reunited with, and--yes, you can guess how it goes. There's a lot (a lot) of description of food--the scarcity of it, what can be created with what's available--but although I normally am crazy for this kind of thing, i We Must Be Brave is sort of a World War II story, but only in the barest of ways. It opens so strongly, with young (early 20s) Ellen finding a child, Pamela, alone on a bus in London in the confusion off the bombings. She tries to find Pamela's mother, who Pamela is anxious to be reunited with, and--yes, you can guess how it goes. There's a lot (a lot) of description of food--the scarcity of it, what can be created with what's available--but although I normally am crazy for this kind of thing, it left me cold here. I think Frances Liardet met to convey more emotion and meaning that comes through in the flat writing. And now that things are settled on their predictable path, the reader is then taken back through Ellen's hard, tragic past, complete with those early 20th century class distinctions and how horrible they were. I so wanted to be engaged, but I never could connect with Ellen or all she endures and how it shapes her. The predictable end to her time with Pamela, again, didn't move me, nor did the Pamela narrated section (set in 2010) at the end, which (yet again) went in the supposed to be heart tugging direction it was supposed to. I so wanted to love this book, but the writing is overly detailed and never manages to convey the emotions it wants to. I could read the sweep and scope, the love and despair and hope and loss and so on, but it was as if it was all under glass. I could observe it, but feel it? No. Disappointing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Travel.with.a.book

    From the beginning when I started to read the book I had issues about the sad and true story that the author tells. I have heard a lot of war stories, I was part of a war and my parents told me everything they went through just so we can be alive and together and this novel is no different. I wish there was no war anywhere in the world and the story of Ellen the main character in the book is so touchy with every person she connects and loses and she always decided to be brave that's our best to be From the beginning when I started to read the book I had issues about the sad and true story that the author tells. I have heard a lot of war stories, I was part of a war and my parents told me everything they went through just so we can be alive and together and this novel is no different. I wish there was no war anywhere in the world and the story of Ellen the main character in the book is so touchy with every person she connects and loses and she always decided to be brave that's our best to be brave. The story of Ellen that loses her father in the war (Second World War) and Pamela decides to take her as her daughter. Then her real father comes to take her in another place. Ellen has to deal with the fact that she loses some of her best friends and family member including Pamela. I give the book 5 stars it's this kind of stories that I wish everyone reads and knlws a little bit of what the small or big innocent people go through with every mix feelings. I was not a year still when me and my family were running away from our enemy. Now we are all alive despite all the cold weather we had been through with no food, not to know where to go, to be alive. It was hard for me to read this story and the author uses a great technique of writting that satisfied me from the begging to the end. The book is not really big in length it has a normal size and it wraps the story so good so readers can devour perfectly a story that needs to be read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    The cover was so beautiful while both the title and blurb enticing. Yet, the dialogue was beyond cluttered and the story kept regurgitating the same anecdote. There were too many characters revolving around the story that there was no substance. I kept reading, hoping it would get better until finally I realized it wasn't. Historically located in England during WWII, the reader will see German bombs drop on England but only from the inside of a shelter. Nothing else of historical relevance. This The cover was so beautiful while both the title and blurb enticing. Yet, the dialogue was beyond cluttered and the story kept regurgitating the same anecdote. There were too many characters revolving around the story that there was no substance. I kept reading, hoping it would get better until finally I realized it wasn't. Historically located in England during WWII, the reader will see German bombs drop on England but only from the inside of a shelter. Nothing else of historical relevance. This is the first book in years that I did not finish. As a historical fiction junkie, of course I bought this when I saw it for a bargain. But, I was disappointed and it remains on my shelf bitterly staring at me.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    To say this book was a struggle would be an understatement. This book needed to be at least 100 pages shorter and was so slow and boring I gave up halfway.

  9. 4 out of 5

    SissiReads

    I finished We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet a few days ago. All the emotions I had when I finished the book still lingered. The feelings of sadness, sorrow, hope and most of all the feeling of love still lingered days after I read this book. This is a story set in England during WWII period and about a 4 year old girl Pamela being left behind on a bus and Ellen, the main character from the book, picked her up and bought her home herself so the little girl can stay safe. The story started from I finished We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet a few days ago. All the emotions I had when I finished the book still lingered. The feelings of sadness, sorrow, hope and most of all the feeling of love still lingered days after I read this book. This is a story set in England during WWII period and about a 4 year old girl Pamela being left behind on a bus and Ellen, the main character from the book, picked her up and bought her home herself so the little girl can stay safe. The story started from there and all the way to present time. What I love most about this book is the breathtakingly beautiful, whimsical and lyrical writing. It is so tender that it captivates all my emotions. Small details like this from the book “When I reached William’s shed I leaned the bicycle against the wall and, at her insistence, lifted her down. She clung, briefly, like an infant monkey, and the shock of delight was accompanied, as always, by a white flare of pain in my lower back,” have moved me to tears countless time. This is a beautifully crafted, profoundly moving story about the resilience of love. It touches me deeply and it speaks to my heart and my soul. The ending of the book has also taken me by surprise. I would have imagined it to be a big emotional scene, but the author has taken us on a different path a different route; it is quieter, calmer, more tender, which I absolutely adore. Because regardless what happens, regardless of sadness, tragedy, sorrow, and loss of time, life goes on. It is the people that we love and the people who love us propel us through difficulties, through loneliness and through life. This book is one of my very favourite reads this year. It is coming out next February and you will not want to miss it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    The publisher's summary suggests this is a story of World War II and the heartbreak of tearing families apart, but it is so much more. A young child is taken in by a couple when her mother is killed by a bomb. Despite the husband's misgivings, his young wife Ellen connects to traumatized Pamela and throughout the horrors of war, she creates a cocoon of love for the little girl. The special relationship is ripped apart when the child's father reappears. The book is not yet half complete when Pame The publisher's summary suggests this is a story of World War II and the heartbreak of tearing families apart, but it is so much more. A young child is taken in by a couple when her mother is killed by a bomb. Despite the husband's misgivings, his young wife Ellen connects to traumatized Pamela and throughout the horrors of war, she creates a cocoon of love for the little girl. The special relationship is ripped apart when the child's father reappears. The book is not yet half complete when Pamela is forcibly removed to Ireland in the care of her distant cousins. How will the characters and the story continue? When I said this was more than a story of World War II, the reader is also carried back to the childhood of Ellen with a story that is just as dramatic and heartbreaking as the tale of her young ward. And then we are whisked ahead in great leaps to decades long past the end of the war. The stalwart individuals who people this book will remind you of the salt-of-the-earth men and women from the chapters of Downton Abbey. You will love them all, even when they show their failings. The writing of Francis Liardet is a joy to read. The descriptions of the English countryside and village life in the 1930's and 40's are perfectly lovely. Just the names of the flowers and weeds captured my imagination. The images of sky and hillside lingered in my mind. At no time did I want to skim a single descriptive paragraph. Beyond the descriptions, the events as revealed to the reader will keep you wondering and worrying about the fate of the characters. You will find yourself so invested in these flawed individuals, you can hardly bear to let them go. But as all stories do, this must also come to an end, and you will reach the final pages with mixed feelings of sadness and contentment. What more can you ask from a book?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alaina

    I SWEAR THAT IT IS A RARE OCCASION WHEN IT TAKES ME MORE THAN LIKE 3 DAYS TO FINISH A PHYSICAL BOOK. WORK GOT IN THE WAY...THEN I GOT BORED... BUT HAVE NO FEAR - I DID IT. We Must Be Brave started off with a little bang. Not a big bang.. but it was enough to get me invested. I wanted to know why this little girl was on the bus all by herself. Where her mother or father was at. Why she was so hard to wake up (I mean I sleep like the dead.. but at one point, if you keep poking the sleeping bear - I SWEAR THAT IT IS A RARE OCCASION WHEN IT TAKES ME MORE THAN LIKE 3 DAYS TO FINISH A PHYSICAL BOOK. WORK GOT IN THE WAY...THEN I GOT BORED... BUT HAVE NO FEAR - I DID IT. We Must Be Brave started off with a little bang. Not a big bang.. but it was enough to get me invested. I wanted to know why this little girl was on the bus all by herself. Where her mother or father was at. Why she was so hard to wake up (I mean I sleep like the dead.. but at one point, if you keep poking the sleeping bear - this bitch will wake up). Low-key, I had a ton of questions and I wasn't even into chapter 2 at this point. After meeting Ellen and Pamela, I will admit that I liked them. I could totally see a relationship/friendship grow between them that could last for a lifetime. However, Pamela then opened her mouth and annoyed me. I totally understand that she's a kid but she was just so annoying. Once wine was involved, I seemed to like her a bit more but I wasn't in love with the girl. Even with all of that, I still loved their relationship with one another. I was a bit heartbroken when Pamela went back with her family and they stopped communication between her and Ellen. Ellen was so freaking sweet and she took care of that damn child - she shouldn't have been shunned like that. Overall, I liked it but I really wanted to enjoy it more. Also, shout out to my girl Ellen who was my favorite person in this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Penelope

    I finished this book at the end of my lunch hour and returned to work slightly red eyed and a bit sniffy but filled with the joy of a marvellous ending to a wonderful book. This beautifully told, heartfelt novel tells a story of love, loss and discovery spanning the 20th century. Looking at the bonds between parent and child and the hard decisions that are sometimes necessary we are shown that families, whether those we are born into or those that find us, always play a part in making us the peo I finished this book at the end of my lunch hour and returned to work slightly red eyed and a bit sniffy but filled with the joy of a marvellous ending to a wonderful book. This beautifully told, heartfelt novel tells a story of love, loss and discovery spanning the 20th century. Looking at the bonds between parent and child and the hard decisions that are sometimes necessary we are shown that families, whether those we are born into or those that find us, always play a part in making us the people we become. I adored the complex and believable characters, with all their faults and flaws but also with their capacity to love and to reach out a hand in the darkest of times. This will definitely be a book that I will be recommending.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael Cayley

    A story of loss which straddles the period from just after WW1 to the beginning of the 21st century. It starts an air raid on Southampton during WW2. A little girl called Pamela is separated from her mother and taken by bus to a nearby village. Selwyn and Ellen take her in on a short-term emergency basis, and end up giving her a home after her mother is found to have died in the raid. The core of the book is Ellen’s life story and the next section is a retrospective portrayal of her moving from co A story of loss which straddles the period from just after WW1 to the beginning of the 21st century. It starts an air raid on Southampton during WW2. A little girl called Pamela is separated from her mother and taken by bus to a nearby village. Selwyn and Ellen take her in on a short-term emergency basis, and end up giving her a home after her mother is found to have died in the raid. The core of the book is Ellen’s life story and the next section is a retrospective portrayal of her moving from comfortable middle-class circumstances to extreme poverty in childhood. And then we see how Pamela transforms Ellen’s life, bringing joy and then bleak sadness. Late in Ellen’s life there are twists that bring further transformations. Ellen herself is adorable and capable but at times perverse and pig-headed. The portrayal of children is very well done and not at all twee. They are not just sugar and spice and all things nice, but real beings who misbehave and have flashes of temper. This is an intensely moving book that at times brought tears to my eyes. But the sorrows are balanced by moments of humour, and a small cast of quirky but believable other characters. Some, for me, were reminiscent of older family members I knew in my childhood of the 1950s and 1960s; most had their own losses and griefs. I hugely enjoyed the novel. With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me have an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    rina dunn

    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 deta 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!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Smith

    This novel was just divine. Such a beautifully moving study on love, compassion, and courage. It examines the different ways in which people can make an impact on the lives of others and explores the many different types of love that can exist. This novel covers a large period of time, it’s quiet and literary, character driven for most of the way; I just adored every single page. “Do you know why I’m not frightened of the cold? Because I know about it. How you can let it sink right into your bone This novel was just divine. Such a beautifully moving study on love, compassion, and courage. It examines the different ways in which people can make an impact on the lives of others and explores the many different types of love that can exist. This novel covers a large period of time, it’s quiet and literary, character driven for most of the way; I just adored every single page. “Do you know why I’m not frightened of the cold? Because I know about it. How you can let it sink right into your bones, and it won’t damage you at all. I know how to suck on a pebble to keep hunger pangs away. You have to do that, you know, if you’ve just given a child your own food. The pain’s excruciating otherwise. And I can carry her, further than anyone. I can walk twenty miles with nothing inside me but the skin of a baked potato. You say I’ve got no idea about war, and shelling. Well, you’ve got no idea what I can endure for her sake.” We Must Be Brave is as much of a community story as it is Ellen’s. When the story opens, the village of Upton is in the midst of helping evacuees from Southampton, whose homes have been bombed in German air raids. Ellen, newly married to an older man whom she adores and who in turn adores her, is comfortably upper class, childless by choice, and running the local mill with her husband. In the midst of assisting the evacuees, she comes upon a small child, only about four years of age, sleeping alone on a bus, seemingly belonging to no one. She takes her home for the night, along with several other evacuees, who they are providing emergency shelter for. Ellen and her husband are already fostering three young boys from London as part of the children evacuation scheme. Over the next few days, it becomes apparent that the little girl, Pamela, is effectively an orphan, and she remains with Ellen and her husband, as their unofficial foster daughter. This is of course at the height of the war, so it didn’t seem at all unusual that she remained there. Ellen was already fostering the three boys, so one more child left with them made perfect sense. As Ellen becomes attached to Pamela in ways she could not have foreseen, memories of her complicated relationship with her own mother throughout her childhood rise to the fore and we become privy to Ellen’s riches to rags upbringing, which really made my heart ache. “I clamped my knees and teeth together, trying to keep it away from me. But it was in vain. I was in it up to my neck. She’d been clean and young and beautiful and now look at her. Look at us, living in dirt and dreck with Edward gone and a carpet on our bed. Daddy wasn’t mad. He was just a wastrel and coward who had taken a coward’s way out after robbing us. Left us in our coal dust and our filthy worn linen and our dry potatoes.” There were several people throughout Ellen’s childhood who helped her along the way, as poverty stricken as she was. Some of the time, Ellen was aware of this, but more often than not, help was offered discretely, with Ellen not even finding out until many years later. I really enjoyed these moments of discovery along the way for Ellen, whose gratitude was always very much in evidence. Ellen herself was a beautiful person, remarkably matter of fact about so many things, but she also had hidden depths, hurts she had buried down deep, a lot of things unresolved. Her marriage was unconventional, but it was filled with love and I appreciated the way the author explored this. “I might turn into a thousand things – who could tell? But I couldn’t live my life according to what I might be, or might want. I was myself, now. And he was here, now. A man who wouldn’t just hold me and kiss me, but a man I could say anything to and be understood, a man who could open the world to me with his heart and mind. How many women had that? Didn’t he realise what we could be, together?” There were many loves in Ellen’s life. Her mother, her brother, her husband; and then there was Lucy, the only person who spoke to Ellen after her plummet into poverty, where she was forced to attend the village school as a pauper and live in one of the partially condemned welfare houses. Lucy becomes more than Ellen’s best friend, she is her other half. I loved the friendship between these two women, the highs and the lows, the foot in mouth moments that led to fights and the times they were perfectly in sync. This was friendship done right. “This was what happened when you knew a woman for over forty years. You knew her thoughts, the way they ran, almost as well as you knew your own.” And then there was Ellen’s greatest love: Pamela, who is only with her for a little over three years, but her impact upon Ellen is lasting. This relationship was so beautiful, naturally evolving from two people being thrown together in turbulent times, and discovering that they were meant to be, except that they weren’t. It was only ever temporary. I’ve never really given much thought, to how hard it must have been to host children during the war, particularly little ones who are in those formative years, bonding and then having to just give them back. The break between Ellen and Pamela was devastating, and it left its mark permanently on both of them. It takes a lot of courage to love someone you know you’re going to lose. I haven’t admired a character as much as Ellen for a very long time. She was beautifully crafted by the author. “She hadn’t smiled all morning, and I realised I’d seen the last of her smiles the previous day, and I wouldn’t see another.” We Must Be Brave is a deeply meaningful novel that sweeps through time with a gentle grace. It’s perfect for lovers of literary historical fiction, who like their novels to dig deep into its characters, while still providing a thought provoking story. Another top read for the year. Thanks is extended to HarperCollins Publishers Australia via NetGalley for providing me with a copy of We Must Be Brave for review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    I kept hearing about this book on Goodreads so I put in my request at the library.  The majority of the book is set in the WW II era, one of my preferred  time periods, and it's set in and around Upton England . We start with a busload of people evacuating Southhampton, heading to the rural town of Upton during WW II.  Ellen Parr notices a small girl sleeping on the bus after everyone departs.  Whose child is this?  Where is her mother? Ellen gathers the little girl in her arms and makes inquiri I kept hearing about this book on Goodreads so I put in my request at the library.  The majority of the book is set in the WW II era, one of my preferred  time periods, and it's set in and around Upton England . We start with a busload of people evacuating Southhampton, heading to the rural town of Upton during WW II.  Ellen Parr notices a small girl sleeping on the bus after everyone departs.  Whose child is this?  Where is her mother? Ellen gathers the little girl in her arms and makes inquiries of the women but no one claims her.  The girl, Pamela, was separated from her mother during an air raid. There are some scenes that are so heartbreaking that it put me in mind of The Light Between the Oceans.  I could actually quote the beginning of that book's review for this one and it would be appropriate. " This book is filled with sadness and loss. There are happy moments but even those are shadowed by secrets and wrong doing..." This novel spans decades but the majority focuses on the early 1940's time period.  Ellen and her husband Selwyn take in the evacuees, some children stay longer than the adults.  When no one claims Pamela it's Ellen's hope that she and Selwyn may keep her.  The circumstances are well explained in this book but I wouldn't want to reveal spoilers. Ellen's back story is revealed after a hundred pages and believe me, you may want the tissues handy.  Actually, you just feel so bad for Ellen yet admire her inner strength. This is a fat book of 450 or so pages and I read it in 3 days time. The characters are well developed, you'd feel as if you known them. The deprivation is keenly described. Three quarters into the book it slows down a bit but I was never tempted to abandon this story.  I would read more by this author. There are references to food but not often.  Lots of tea, bread, Rock Cakes, a meat pie, baked onions, potato pie, rissoles and a treacle tart. One the dessert side of things I decided to make a peach cobbler. After so much deprivation I wanted excess.  We even had Blanton's bourbon with it.  Now that's decadent. :-)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Adele Shea

    Frances Liardet's, We Must Be Brave, is heartwarming at its best. I dare you to not falm in love with the characters. Frances Liardet's, We Must Be Brave, is heartwarming at its best. I dare you to not falm in love with the characters.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Susan Hampson

    This is a story that not only touched my heart it squeezed it dry. War stories are always tear jerkers and this one was no exception for me. It isn’t a front line story, this is a story of a childless woman and an abandoned three-year old girl wrapped in a blanket and left on a bus. But the story goes way past the end of the war. Ellen was married and quite adamant that she did not want a family but the day she found Pamela she knew that she needed this little girl in her life as much as the litt This is a story that not only touched my heart it squeezed it dry. War stories are always tear jerkers and this one was no exception for me. It isn’t a front line story, this is a story of a childless woman and an abandoned three-year old girl wrapped in a blanket and left on a bus. But the story goes way past the end of the war. Ellen was married and quite adamant that she did not want a family but the day she found Pamela she knew that she needed this little girl in her life as much as the little girl needed a family. The relationship that grows between the pair is as close as any mother and daughter with lovely tender moments. Three years later Ellen learns of a man looking for his daughter after he has returned from the war and she knows in her heart that he is Pamela’s real father. The heart breaking scenes that follow really got to me and greatly impacted Pamela and Ellen. It really made me think deeper about the children that were sent to the countryside through the war years, not always to loving homes and how it must have affected the whole family. Then after the war the trauma of families being returned that were like strangers coming together. The loss felt by the families that had housed them too and friends that they had made. The stories follow the lives of Ellen and Pamela and letters that made me cry. The emotions that were built up ready to explode and questions from a little girl now a woman. The end of this story is very, very emotional that had me sobbing. A truly amazing story. I wish to thank NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an e-copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kayleigh Kehoe ♡

    ♡ wordpress ♡ tumblr ♡ instagram ♡ twitter ♡ _____________________________ I could not bring myself to enjoy this as much as I imagine others would. Although I did love the whimsical, compelling narrative of this book, it kept me going when I was horrifically bored, but the plot - or execution - wasn't there for me. This was described to me as an emotional book, a tale about love and loss in the second world war; however I really struggled to distinguish the love in this book from perpetuated ♡ wordpress ♡ tumblr ♡ instagram ♡ twitter ♡ _____________________________ I could not bring myself to enjoy this as much as I imagine others would. Although I did love the whimsical, compelling narrative of this book, it kept me going when I was horrifically bored, but the plot - or execution - wasn't there for me. This was described to me as an emotional book, a tale about love and loss in the second world war; however I really struggled to distinguish the love in this book from perpetuated self entitlement. I didn't like the main character, Ellen. I thought that she felt like because she took in what she thought was a motherless, estranged child called Pamela into her home, she was permitted to keep her forever, even going as far as begrudging her father from reuniting with Pamela. Ellen was consistently selfish, and then would help out the odd villager and would be overly praised, with no one calling her out on her selfishness. Not only that, but the second half of this book is basically about Ellen replacing Pamela with another little girl called Penny who has the same initials and a similar nature to Pamela, and yet Ellen constantly reminisces about Pamela, so there is no emotional investment or connection made with Penny. Within the story it felt to me ridiculously repetitive and tired. Once again, Ellen feels entitled to Penny, foregoing any kind of character development that could have been made on Ellen's behalf. I think this book would have been better if it was more focused on families reuniting during the savage destruction of the second world war. Rather than one woman's need to keep a child from ever leaving her, and then replacing her with a similar child when the original child's father is quite rightly insisting she be with her own family again. Overall, great, knowledgeable, inspiring writing, rife with facts, tragedies, emotions and atmosphere of life in England during the second world war. I can imagine the nostalgia, even though I'm only 23. Poor plot, no substantial developments of characters, no progress made with the actual story itself, extremely repetitive which ruins any kind of impact the prose could have had. Thank you to Net Galley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Stopped reading about 1/5 into the book - got tired of reading about some whiny child and a woman who consistently deferred to her husband. Maybe the book/story gets better, but life's too short...... Stopped reading about 1/5 into the book - got tired of reading about some whiny child and a woman who consistently deferred to her husband. Maybe the book/story gets better, but life's too short......

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mary Kate

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was such a disappoint. The premise had such promise. I can only assume the author must have had some good connections to get this published. At one point I realized it was probably self-published and stopped to check. Nope, Putnam to my surprise. It went on and on and on. It covered decades of minutiae with no plot. It was littered with tangential information. Why do we need to know that one of the other applicants for the typing job had bad breath? Or that her classmate with the large bust This was such a disappoint. The premise had such promise. I can only assume the author must have had some good connections to get this published. At one point I realized it was probably self-published and stopped to check. Nope, Putnam to my surprise. It went on and on and on. It covered decades of minutiae with no plot. It was littered with tangential information. Why do we need to know that one of the other applicants for the typing job had bad breath? Or that her classmate with the large bust also applied? The mention that her husband needed a filling was for no reason and went no farther, not even a mention of going to the DDS. When she first kicks aside the child's blanket, carrying her off the bus, I assumed it was a security blanket and that losing it would be in the plot. Nope. It was competely irrelevant, like so many, many statements. The brooch mentioned in the first few pages? Yeah, irrelevant. The book was filled with English words not used in the US. Sometimes I could figure them out and most of the time they were part of some pointless sentence but at the start they bogged me down since I assumed the writing was part of a coherent story. Ha! There were odd things missing too. The first section was challenging where she is describing the buses coming from South Hampton. It relied too much on one's geography of England or more knowledge of WWII perhaps. (I read a lot WWII fiction.) I assumed the people were coming as evacuees rather than to get out of a bombed area, until she mentioned she had evacuees. I couldn't figure out why her newlywed husband was not in the war because either, his age isn't mentioned for ages. And names! Lord help me the names. Mr. Kennet, Sargent Kennet, William, and Bill. At one point, I thought there were three people in a conversation because of the switch from Mr. Kennet, the name used most often in the first half of the book, to William. I had to flip back several pages to learn they were one and the same. When Lady Brock became Althea at the tea shop, I thought she was a femme fatale coming to try and woo Selwyn. I can only assume the manuscript reached the editors in such poor shape that they were pleased to get it to this state and could no longer see all the errors. (I have edited some poorly written books and thought the publishers should really get a second editor to do a final revision because when it requires that much work you simply cannot see all the errors. Sadly, Putnam probably didn't want to spend anymore money.) The section of letters never sent was almost irrelevant since Pamela never sees them in the book. They were also random, Ellen writes after the invasion (D-Day) has happened but not again when the war is over for a year? Huh? What was the point of the section? Maybe a weak attempt at showing the passing of time? Surely not to convey her ongoing sorrow at losing Pamela because she only writes her occasionally. If this section had been flushed out, a conclusion could have shortly followed and the book would have been OK. Instead, we get a completely new story in 1974. It was more than 100 pages of rambling about all the minor characters daily lives with the introduction of just one character who appears later in the conclusion. A better author could have shown the passage of time and then wrapped up the book with a similar ending excluding Penny. What the heck was the bit about Mr. Kennet being her biological father?! That was just a bizarre twist that had no meaning. The marriage to the reverend? Again it went nowhere but I guess we know she finally learned about sex!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shelby

    It’s the year 1940 and WWII is in full force. In a small English town of Upton, newly married, Ellen, discovers a 4-year old girl named Pamela, left behind inside a bus. Without a parent in sight, Ellen takes in Pamela and cares for her, despite her husband’s hesitance. Ellen later learns that Pamela’s mother died from a bombing and Pamela’s father isn’t in the picture. So Pamela becomes a fixture in Ellen’s life. She feels a connection to Pamela because she’s lost so much, like Ellen did during It’s the year 1940 and WWII is in full force. In a small English town of Upton, newly married, Ellen, discovers a 4-year old girl named Pamela, left behind inside a bus. Without a parent in sight, Ellen takes in Pamela and cares for her, despite her husband’s hesitance. Ellen later learns that Pamela’s mother died from a bombing and Pamela’s father isn’t in the picture. So Pamela becomes a fixture in Ellen’s life. She feels a connection to Pamela because she’s lost so much, like Ellen did during her childhood. The story goes back in time a decade earlier when Ellen was a young girl. She experienced hardship after hardship growing up in the British countryside. The memories of her upbringing have lasted with her all these years and she feels a need to protect Pamela, and in doing so, maybe she can heal some of her own wounds by healing Pamela’s. After 3 years together, Pamela and Ellen are separated and Ellen is left feeling heartbroken over a child that was never truly hers. Decades pass and Pamela has never left Ellen’s mind, and especially her heart. Then another girl enters Ellen’s life, opening the wounds left behind by Pamela. And Ellen is given the chance to make a different choice than she had all those years ago. A chance to maybe make things right, if only in some way. We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet is more than just a tale about one family during WWII. Spanning over several decades, this story is about a mother’s love, and the lengths they’d go to in order to protect their child, regardless of if they are biologically theirs. It took me some time to get into this story, as it was extremely slow-going the first 25%. I was worried I wasn’t going to like this story, but it definitely grew on me. Ellen led a very sad childhood and my heart went out to her, for she experienced unimaginable loss within a short period of time. And then the loss of Pamela only added to her tragic story. The ending was appropriate, albeit bittersweet. 3/5 stars. Thank you to Edelweiss, Frances Liardet and Penguin Publishing Group for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I opened this book, expecting something ordinary about WWII in England, but I found a perfect little gem about love, not war. The love is between Ellen and the little girl she “found” after an attack in a nearby town. It soon became apparent that the child, Pamela, had lost her mother. Ellen takes this child to her heart and there is great mutual love, until their existence is shattered when Pamela is returned, despite her deep unhappiness, to her father’s family. Ellen was shattered, but as lif I opened this book, expecting something ordinary about WWII in England, but I found a perfect little gem about love, not war. The love is between Ellen and the little girl she “found” after an attack in a nearby town. It soon became apparent that the child, Pamela, had lost her mother. Ellen takes this child to her heart and there is great mutual love, until their existence is shattered when Pamela is returned, despite her deep unhappiness, to her father’s family. Ellen was shattered, but as life went on another child became part of her life. The story of these women, surrounded by the characters of the village of Upton, make this novel a small treasure. As a reader, I keep thinking of the interpretation of the title, WE MUST BE BRAVE, and all the meanings I found within this novel. Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to review this very special novel.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    This book totally sold me on a completely different story to the one I read. Expecting to read a historical fiction book about an abandoned child left in a remote village in 1940 I was very excited to pick this up but most of the book didn't even revolve around the events of Pamela's abandonment or the time period I wanted to read about. Most of this book had no plot- or if it did it was not a plot I cared to read about. I found Ellen and Pamela extremely irritating and bland characters so reall This book totally sold me on a completely different story to the one I read. Expecting to read a historical fiction book about an abandoned child left in a remote village in 1940 I was very excited to pick this up but most of the book didn't even revolve around the events of Pamela's abandonment or the time period I wanted to read about. Most of this book had no plot- or if it did it was not a plot I cared to read about. I found Ellen and Pamela extremely irritating and bland characters so really nothing in this book made me want to read it expect for the hope that it might improve.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    A slow-moving but beautiful story about love for others, especially parents for their children. A tale that highlights kindness, sacrifice, letting go but never forgetting, enduring through loss, finding joy in everyday moments, love with all its joys and sorrows—and all the things that make life worth living. And I did have to keep my tissues handy. Touching and tender.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    This probably makes my top 5 of most boring books ever. SLOW!!

  27. 5 out of 5

    CoachJim

    We Must We Brave by Frances Liardet A pleasant story of a married, childless woman who finds an abandoned child on a bus during World War II. The story takes place in an English country village. There is a lingering mystery that is teased about the woman that is not that well developed. The story is about human relations which is not a topic that holds much interest for me. It is therefore difficult to find much to praise about this book. I am sure that someone who enjoys reading about the interact We Must We Brave by Frances Liardet A pleasant story of a married, childless woman who finds an abandoned child on a bus during World War II. The story takes place in an English country village. There is a lingering mystery that is teased about the woman that is not that well developed. The story is about human relations which is not a topic that holds much interest for me. It is therefore difficult to find much to praise about this book. I am sure that someone who enjoys reading about the interaction of people and emotional drama it usually involves will enjoy this book. There are some interesting characters in this story, but for me I did not think there were well developed. Also the story jumps around chronologically and from different perspectives, which in this book I found disruptive. I found myself losing interest in the story. I thought that it might have needed some editing. The ending tries to tie all the stories together, but it was very abbreviated. I have a difficult time rating this book because as I said some might find it a better read than I.

  28. 4 out of 5

    MyLan

    Usually I only give one star if I find the message of the book morally abhorrent. This book was not morally problematic, but I'm making an exception to this rule because this book was so boring and dumb. There really is no overarching plot or central conflict. It is all about interpersonal relationships (such as the relationship between Ellen and Pamela, and Ellen and her husband) except none of the relationships have any chemistry. The book just slowly narrates over several decades with no real Usually I only give one star if I find the message of the book morally abhorrent. This book was not morally problematic, but I'm making an exception to this rule because this book was so boring and dumb. There really is no overarching plot or central conflict. It is all about interpersonal relationships (such as the relationship between Ellen and Pamela, and Ellen and her husband) except none of the relationships have any chemistry. The book just slowly narrates over several decades with no real central plot. To make it worse, I found the voices of the audiobook, especially that of Pamela, to be so annoying. I only finished this because I refuse to leave books unfinished. Any reasonable person would stop reading 100 pages in.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    "We Must Be Brave" is story of a married, childless woman who finds a little orphan girl left behind by her mother. Their relationship grows and as well as their love for each other. It was very sweet relationship until Pamela's father shows up out of nowhere to claim her back. It was really sad watching Ellen try to do what is best for Pamela while she still loved her as a daughter and wanted to keep her at home. I wasn't terribly interested in the story... It was a slow-read and I could tell i "We Must Be Brave" is story of a married, childless woman who finds a little orphan girl left behind by her mother. Their relationship grows and as well as their love for each other. It was very sweet relationship until Pamela's father shows up out of nowhere to claim her back. It was really sad watching Ellen try to do what is best for Pamela while she still loved her as a daughter and wanted to keep her at home. I wasn't terribly interested in the story... It was a slow-read and I could tell it was very emotional, but I just wasn't getting into it. If you are looking for an emotional historical fiction with a motherly perspective, then I think you will enjoy this.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    This is a beach read disguised as historical fiction. Some defining characteristics of a beach read: light, sort of airy tones. There’s conflict of some kind, but it never really feels like anyone or anything is in actual danger of not being ok in the end. Fuzzy happy warm feelings of happy at the end. So you can imagine that a book emphasizing WWII that has those characteristics probably isn’t all that riveting. It’s sweet and a little sad, but the sadness doesn’t last because you know the caus This is a beach read disguised as historical fiction. Some defining characteristics of a beach read: light, sort of airy tones. There’s conflict of some kind, but it never really feels like anyone or anything is in actual danger of not being ok in the end. Fuzzy happy warm feelings of happy at the end. So you can imagine that a book emphasizing WWII that has those characteristics probably isn’t all that riveting. It’s sweet and a little sad, but the sadness doesn’t last because you know the cause won’t last either.

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