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WE MUST BE BRAVE BY FRANCIS LIARDET

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

Click on each name to read the review. If you would like to become part of the Viking Book Club, sign up sign up here >>

REVIEWS

Elizabeth Langham

A very engaging book, whether reading at home or on holiday

From the beginning there are opportunities for speculation.

We are given a fresh perspective of the challenges faced by the characters, mainly women, in the light of the Second World War and its aftermath, the country and the home. However the men are also influential, important and not insignificant.

Her descriptions are poignant, and detailed without detracting from the moment or situation. It is easy to visualise the scene....repacking of a suitcase, the country lanes, the contents of a mackintosh pocket.

I found myself questioning what I would have done in the circumstances.

Despite all life has to throw at her Ellen is strong and to be admired.

I also wanted to weep for her.

Janice Whatley

This is a lovely story, very heart-warming and written in an easy to read style, which keeps you wanting to read more. Set during World War 2, near Southampton, an area of the country rarely mentioned in many wartime novels, it recounts the story of a young girl saved from the bombing only to lose her mother in the air raid. The little girl is taken in by a newly-wed lady, Ellen, and a flashback tells of the difficulties faced by Ellen when she was a similar age. People’s actions are shaped by their past experiences and this novel brings this fact out in a moving way.

It is easy to forget how hard things were for some people before and during the war, so this story is a reminder that we have it easy by comparison. Think about this when you are enjoying a drink on the sun terrace of a Viking ship.

Wendy Hopkins

This is not a book which is going to rock the literary world or change the lives of its readers, but it is an enjoyable read and well-written. "We Must Be Brave" is a very appropriate title: the story is about gentle, quiet people doing their best to get on with their lives whilst dealing with the physical and emotional hardships imposed by the Second World War.

The descriptive writing is very good, places and people come alive. Pamela is particularly well-drawn and is easy to envisage. Other characters are depicted with a lighter touch, but are still clearly drawn and make the reader wish to know more about them.

The story is a sad one about love and loss, luck and chance. There are no real villains here, just unfortunate victims of circumstance. I will look for other books by this writer.

Julie Wall

A very moving story, following the life of a privileged young girl through penury following the bankruptcy and suicide of her father, and the efforts she makes to improve her lot in life.

A major factor in her life is her childlessness, and her strong attachment to two young girls who come in to her life at different times, and the influence they all have upon each other.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and plan to read her previous novel ‘The Game’.

Wendy Hildreth

This book begins on a bus travelling from Southampton in the dark days of World War 2. The bus is full of people who have fled the bombing in Southampton to find safety in a nearby village. As the bus empties, a woman, Ellen, newly married to Selwyn, discovers a sleeping child at the back of the bus. She picks her up and rushes to the village hall to see if anyone is missing a child. No-one claims the girl and so Ellen takes her back to her home.

So begins the story surrounding Ellen and the child, Pamela. There are detailed descriptions of life during the war and how people managed. Then we have a section which is a flashback to Ellen’s earlier life and the privations she suffered. I was sucked into the story and the descriptive writing brought these former times to life. There is a third section after the war, involving another child and a final section which fast forwards to the present time and a final resolution. Having enjoyed the story up to this point, I found the ending a bit abrupt. However, overall this was a gripping read and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the pre-war, wartime and post war periods.

Elizabeth Netherwood

This was a beautifully written story about love, not a love story as such. The language that the author used was clever in the way she manipulated the reader’s emotions with a quiet resolve. She used some unusual vocabulary that made me want to reach for a dictionary, but I couldn’t as I couldn't stop reading. This use of language never detracted from the flow. The story is based around the Second World War and the bombing in Southampton. It centres on the story of riches to rags to riches heroine, Ellen, who marries an older man she bumped into at the library and fell in love with. Into their lives comes Pamela who seems to have been abandoned on the local bus following bombing in the town. Pamela turns their lives upside down.

It's difficult to put into words the joy and pain in this book. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well written novel to read it. It is not a book I would have picked up myself, but I feel very privileged to have read it and will pass it on to my daughters to read.

Judith Cranswick

The novel ranges over the life of the viewpoint character – Ellen Parr. It’s a story essentially about relationships firstly with five-year-old Pamela, a child she finds at the back of an empty bus which has brought with people escaping from the German bombs falling on Southampton and much later in time with Penny, an older child again in desperate need of Ellen’s love. It also shows her lifelong friendship with Lucy.

There is a very authentic feel to the writer’s description of Ellen’s childhood. There is no attempt to evoke a sense of pity in the reader at the desperate plight of the eleven-year-old Ellen reduced from her previously comfortable life to harsh poverty after she and her mother are abandoned by her father, simply an appreciation of that’s just how things were. The love and support of friends will always provide hope and courage to face the challenges life brings.

Evocative, emotive and insightful, ‘We Must Be Brave’ is compulsive reading.