She was fast asleep on the back seat of the bus. Curled up, thumb in mouth. Four, maybe five years old.
I turned around. The last few passengers were shuffling away from me down the aisle to the doors. ‘Whose is this child?’ I called.
Not a single head turned.
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 realization that Pamela was never theirs to keep…
A story of courage and kindness, hardship and friendship, We Must be Brave explores the fierce love we feel for our children and the astonishing power of that love to endure.
Reviews of We Must Be Brave
‘This is storytelling at its best. Wise, generous and captivating’ Sarah Winman, author of Tin Man
‘Oh, I loved this book so much! It’s strikingly authentic, beautifully written, and a wonderfully touching depiction of the families people create for themselves when blood relatives let them down. It broke my heart and glued it together again. Just perfect’ Jill Mansell, author of Rumour Has It
‘A book about fundamentally decent people doing good things and a story both epic and intimate, so tenderly written it moved me to tears’ Elizabeth Day, author of The Party
‘A wonderful novel. A beautifully written story of love and loss, with thoughtfully crafted characters and so much to think about long after you’ve finished reading it. It is one of those novels you can talk about for hours – the perfect book club read.’
AJ Pearce, author of Dear Mrs Bird
‘Outstanding: such fine, fine writing, and such a steady, unsentimental gaze at human relationships in all their toughness and fragility. I adored this novel, and will be pressing it into people’s hands at every opportunity‘
Shelley Harris bestselling author of Jubilee and Vigilante
‘I loved this book. We Must Be Brave pulls you in right from the start and stays with you long after you have finished it. Such confident storytelling and perfect attention to detail is really rare’ Esther Walker, onthespike.com
‘A tale of love, loss and resilience, and of the enduring bonds of friendship and community’ Mail on Sunday
‘Beautifully written, it is full of wisdom and tenderness and, be warned, very likely to move you to tears – despite its ultimate message of hope’ Sunday Mirror, Sunday People
‘We Must Be Brave is a tender ode to motherhood, in all its forms’ Good Housekeeping