The Brave by Nicholas Evans

This is what I would  call a holiday read. It’s very undemanding of the brain, has wonderfully short sentences that don’t require much eye movement or cognition, and a plot with enough twists to keep you reading.

Nicholas Evens is the author who wrote The Horse Whisperer, which I know I read, but I can only remember the movie now. This book could also be made into a film and it would make a mainstream family-drama kind of film. Fun but forgettable.

The writing is not beautiful, it is plain and simple. There are no breathtaking metaphors woven through the text; cliches are even employed. It is this style that makes The Brave an easy read – it is as comforting as a familiar soapie on TV; it enables you to be a couch potato and not have to sit up with concentration.

Tom is the main character and the plot moves from his childhood to his marriage and beyond. He suffers cruel bullying at boarding school in England, but then moves to America with his sister, who turns out to be his mother (a good way of bringing in more family drama). His mother, amazingly, turns out to be a stunningly beautiful actress who takes Hollywood by surprise. And, amazingly, she falls in love with one of the most popular cowboy actors. And so on, until a violent tragedy occurs and Tom’s life is changed forever, leaving him with a festering secret that drives him to drink (surprise, surprise). I would love it if one day a burning secret in a book made someone do something other than drink – turn to pottery or gardening, perhaps?

Whisking to the present day, we are shown Tom’s post-divorce, dissolute life that is meandering along aimlessly until his ex-wife phones with bad news about their son. He is a soldier in Iraq, who has been charged with murder. This, in turn, makes Tom face his past to be able to be there for his son. And so the festering secret can out, making Tom a less anguished soul who can start a relationship of his own now and make friends with everyone, including his ex-wife and estranged son.

I am still not sure after reading the book, as to why it is called ‘The Brave’. On the back, it tells us that as “he struggles to save his son’s life, he will learn the meaning of true bravery”. That comment just irritates me, although I suppose it alludes to his sister-mother. I also don’t buy the fact that his mother gets the death sentence for what seems like self-defence to me. And what the son did sounded like murder to me. Another comment on the back says it is “powerfully written and intensely moving”. ‘Fraid not for me.

Excuse my niggles; I seem to become a more intolerant reader as I get older. I still enjoyed the story and the book made ideal lazy, late night reading matter as it didn’t demand anything of me and it was easy to pick up the next day after I had fallen asleep reading it.

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Author: Nella

Passionate reader, sometime writer, school resource manager. I couldn't survive without books. And, I suppose, my children, my cats, my dog, my family, my friends. I belong to two book clubs, and I don't mind in what form I read a book - a paper one, an electronic one - just let me read.

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