Book Review: We Must Be Brave

In case it was not evident from my previous reviews, my most recent reads have been historical novels set during wartime, specifically World War II. Which is why I wanted to read We Must Be Brave, by Frances Liardet.

We Must Be Brave opens in December 1940, in the small village of Upton, about 10 miles north of Southampton, England. Southampton has just been bombed, and chaos ensues as residents are evacuated from the war-torn city.

Several busloads of evacuees are sent to Upton. Ellen Parr, a newlywed woman who has resigned herself to never having children, discovers a little girl alone and asleep on the backseat of a bus. But where are her parents?

Ellen soon learns that the child’s mother has died in the bombing and that her father has abandoned them. With no one remaining to raise the girl, Ellen takes Pamela into her home and into her heart. Before long, this motherless child and this childless mother are inseparable.

Years pass and Pamela’s absentee father returns, taking his daughter away from Ellen and placing her with his family in Ireland. Devastated, Ellen now must learn to live without the love of her life.

Although I enjoyed the evolving relationship between Ellen and Pamela as well as some of the quirky characters, occasionally, I found the dialogue disjointed and the timing rushed, especially in the first few chapters. Perhaps this was purposely done to embody the bedlam after the bombing and the ensuing search for Pamela’s parents? At other times, the book’s pace was lethargic, and I found myself skimming pages and skipping sections of Ellen’s inner thoughts just to get back to the main story.

A story with so much potential, We Must Be Brave fell just shy of my expectations.


I received a complimentary copy of this book from Penguin Group, G. P. Putnam’s Sons through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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