Review: How To Be Brave by Louise Beech


About How To Be Brave

This is a novel about how stories bring magic to our lives. Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat where an ancestor survived for fifty days. Natalie struggles when nine-year-old daughter Rose is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and refuses her life-saving injections and blood tests. When they begin dreaming about and seeing a man in a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar they realise he has something for them – his diary. Only by using her imagination, newspaper clippings, letters and this diary will Natalie share the true story of Grandad Colin’s survival at sea, and help her daughter cope with her illness and, indeed, survive. This is a haunting, beautifully written, tenderly told story that wonderfully weaves together a contemporary story of a mother battling to save her child’s life through the medium storytelling with an extraordinary story of bravery and a fight for survival in the Second World War.

My Review

This is an absolutely beautiful book. I’m not a fan of split narratives, however in this instance the alternating between past and present worked wonderfully. I’m also not a frequent reader of paranormal, yet again Beech masterfully knitted this into the narrative with perfection.

Beech’s writing is stunning, penetrating. Considering Colin’s story is fact based on his experience and journal entries makes it all the more moving and haunting. Beech’s use of language emotionally grips her audience from beginning to end. Both Colin and Rose’s story will capture you mind, body and spirit.

I connected with Colin’s story the most, poignant. His harrowing ordeal, the thread of hope he maintained when his peers perish around him. His hunger and thirst never ceasing. His bravery was arresting. I felt the sting of saltwater, the burn of the sun, constant hunger pangs, counting the days adrift bargaining with God, his ordeal is beyond moving.

Louise Beech impresses with this amazing debut novel. Her writing is solid, she certainly comes across as a seasoned author rather than a neophyte. I am anxious to read future writings from this gifted authoress.

A marvelous book demonstrating bravery and courage we all possess, along with how a story wields unimaginable power. A story not to be missed.

About Louise BeechDSC06211

Louise Beech has always been haunted by the sea, and regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She is also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show. This is her first book.

Expected publication: April 1st 2016 by Orenda Books


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