When war is declared, Mary North leaves finishing school unfinished, goes straight to the War Office, and signs up.
Tom Shaw decides to give it a miss - until his flatmate Alistair unexpectedly enlists, and the conflict can no longer be avoided.
Young, bright and brave, Mary is certain she'd be a marvelous spy. When she is - bewilderingly - made a teacher, she instead finds herself defying prejudice to protect the children her country would rather forget.
Tom, meanwhile, finds that he will do anything for Mary.
And when Mary and Alistair meet, it is love, as well as war, that will test them in ways they could not have imagined, entangling three lives in violence and passion, friendship and deception, inexorably shaping their hopes and dreams.
In a powerful combination of both humour and heartbreak, this dazzling novel weaves little-known history, and a perfect love story, through the vast sweep of the Second World War - daring us to understand that, against the great theatre of world events, it is the intimate losses, the small battles, the daily human triumphs, that change us most.
A compelling and finely crafted novel...The Second World War is dangerous territory for a contemporary novelist: the enemies they face include familiarity, cliche, and the reader's knowledge that any number of things happened then that were far stranger than fiction. For a writer to succeed in setting a tale in a period of heightened emotions, they need first to keep their own emotions under close control. Ian McEwan did this with Atonement, Sarah Waters did it with The Night Watch, and Chris Cleave does it too with Everyone Brave is Forgiven. - Financial Times
Loosely based on the author's grandparents' stories, this is a superb novel that breathes fresh life into an often brutal scenario. Particularly astute at demonstrating how war seeps into the psyche and changes it, this is beautifully written, funny, gut-wrenching and, above all, honest. - Daily Mail
An addictive, propulsive read . . . Cleave writes with an engaging intensity, a determination to tackle big moral issues, and a willingness to take risks. - The Sunday Times
Chris Cleave's debut novel INCENDIARY was a prize-winner and international bestseller and his second novel, THE OTHER HAND has found phenomenal success both in the UK and abroad, hitting number one on the New York Times bestseller list. He is married with three children, and lives in Surrey. He keeps a website at www.chriscleave.com and can be found on twitter.com/chriscleave.