Blurb from Goodreads
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.
PUBLISHED: February 2019