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About the book

A woman. A war. A child that changed everything.

Spanning the sweep of the twentieth century, We Must Be Brave is a luminous and profoundly moving novel about the people we rescue and the ways in which they rescue us back.

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.

Nobody looked back.

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 …

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.

We Must Be Brave
Published: 29 January 2019
Format: B+ format pb
ISBN: 9780008280147
RRP: $29.99


About the author

Frances Liardet is a child of the children of the Second World War. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and studied Arabic at Oxford before travelling to Cairo to work as a translator. She currently lives in Somerset, England, with her husband and daughter, and runs a summer writing session called Bootcamp. We Must Be Brave is her second novel.


Praise for ‘We Must Be Brave’

‘This is storytelling at its best’—Sarah Winman, author of Tin Man 

‘It broke my heart and glued it together again. Just perfect’—Jill Mansell, author of Rumour Has It

‘A story both epic and intimate, so tenderly written it moved me to tears’—Elizabeth Day, author of The Party

‘It is one of those novels you can talk about for hours’—A J Pearce, author of Dear Mrs Bird

‘Such confident storytelling and perfect attention to detail is really rare’—Esther Walker,

‘I adored this novel, and will be pressing it into people’s hands at every opportunity’—Shelley Harris bestselling author of Jubilee and Vigilante

‘This stirring debut will work its way indelibly into the folds of your memory, and of your heart’—Georgia Hunter, author of We Were the Lucky Ones

‘A sweeping, heartfelt novel about what it means to truly love a child’—Jillian Cantor, author of The Lost Letter and In Another Time


Digital assets

Read a sample chapter of We Must Be Brave here.

See the Reading Group Guide for a conversation with Frances Liardet here.


Reading copy giveaway

Be one of the first to read We Must Be Brave. Email with ‘We Must Be Brave’ in the subject line for your chance to secure one of ten copies.




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Kelsey Oldham

Digital editor
Brad Jefferies

Acting editor, Daily
Matthia Dempsey

Editorial assistant
Anthea Yang

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