Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Brave by Nicholas Evans (review #108)

The Brave by Nicholas Evans
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Little Brown
Review Copy

This book was such a pleasant surprise. I received it a few weeks ago with the hopes of maybe picking it up in the next month or two to review. I was up in the air with what I was in the mood for at the time and I gave it a go. I read it in two days and was wholly absorbed the entire time. I had never read Nicholas Evans before but knew him from his Horse Whisperer fame. I remember when the book came out and the movie with Robert Redford.

You tend to compartmentalize books when you work in bookstores and I somehow put Nicholas Evans in the "Man Book" category...where Nelson Demille, Tom Clancy and Robert Parker all comfortably live. I have no issues at all with these authors, I just got used to selling them to a particular customer!

I really, really enjoyed this book. It focuses around a young eight year boy named Tom Bedford living near London with his older parents. He is a bit shy, a little socially awkward and completely obsessed with westerns, specifically the star Flint McCullough. His mother is harsh on him and his father barely speaks to him. The one that gives him the most love is his older sister, Diane, a rising actress on the London stage and screen.

He is sent to a rough boarding school when he becomes an early teen and learns the hard way how to manage. After a short stay, he is told a devastating secret about his family. This leads to his move to Hollywood to live with his sister and her new boyfriend, the popular TV cowboy actor Ray Montane. There he discovers life on movie sets and the difference between real life cowboys and the ones that pretend to be good.

He meets Cal, the owner of the ranch where Ray and Diane are filming their new movie and they bond over horses and movies. His world is filled with Tinseltown glamour, ugly truths and dreams to survive. What makes it all safe for him, even when a terrifying act threatens to ruin them all, is Diane and his new found friendship with Cal.

As this story line develops with his life in Hollywood, we jump in time to when Tom is an adult living in Montana, divorced and father of an adult son. His son is a US Marine and charged with murder in the field. Distant and a bit awkward at parenting, Tom struggles to reconnect with his son and help him with his trial. This brings up memories of the secrets he faced in his childhood and the pain he had to deal with early on in life.

Rating: 5/6
This book has a little bit of everything in it for me; old Hollywood glamour, childhood dreams, the strength of family and the power of secrets. I really liked it and was drawn to the world in which Evans creates. Never having read him before I did not know what to expect and I was so pleased. Recommended for fans of a well strung together drama with plenty of character development.

Interesting note:
Check this out from the author's website.

Hello and welcome to the website. It has been a long time since we refreshed these pages but we’ve done some work and I hope you like the changes. The reason for the delay (and, more important, the delayed publication of my new novel) is that my family and I had a serious accident: we ate some wild mushrooms which turned out to be poisonous. The guide book, consulted, stupidly, only after the horse had bolted, listed them as deadly poisonous. Fortunately, the four children who were with us had the good sense not to eat any. But their parents did, with horrible consequences. The poison attacked our kidneys and within a couple of days we were all critically ill in hospital on dialysis. Three of us still are on dialysis – five hours every other day, hitched to a blood machine. We are also on the waiting list for transplants.

It has been a life-changing journey in many ways. But with the love and support of family and friends and brilliant medical help (all courtesy of the wonderful British National Health Service), we are all in good spirits. More than anything, we are happy to be alive. I would like to thank all those many readers who sent their good wishes through this website. I usually reply to all emails but there is a huge backlog, so please excuse the delay.

My new novel, postponed for two years by all this real-life drama, is called The Brave. It’s out in September in the UK and October in the US. Italy and Holland hope to publish around that time too. I hope you enjoy it. Also, my wife, singer/songwriter Charlotte Gordon Cumming created an album of songs inspired by The Brave. You can listen to these songs at

All best wishes,

Book Club Pick?
Hmm...I just found it to be a really good book to read. I wouldn't recommend it for my book club, just to savor and read for yourself.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Jenny said...

That's so funny that you considered this a "man book". I mean, you'd know better than me for sure since you worked in a bookstore and saw who bought books. In my mind, he was just the "western" version of Nicholas Sparks, LOL!!! But I think that might be largely because his name is also Nicholas. It does sound good, though. Good to know it's maybe worth checking out and not dismissing as merely a western, hehehe!

Tales of Whimsy said...

Wow. This sounds really good and not what I would expect (at all) from the cover. Great review darling :)

Misha said...

I had liked The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans . I am glad to read that The Brave is also a good book.Thanks for the review!

Lisa said...

I was trying to figure out where I knew the name Nicholas Evans from. I never read Horse Whisperer but I did love the movie and if you liked this one this much, I'll have to give it a shot.

Stacy at The Novel Life said...

I have read all of his books and love his writing style! I had NO idea he and his family went through such a horrible accident! I had wondered what happened to him but never took the time to look him up on the web....heading off to his site now to wish them well....
(I have the brave sitting beside my bed to pick up next - as soon as next comes around!)