When We Were Young & Brave: A Novel (Paperback)
"Gaynor's story of courage and strength will make you believe in the heroic spirit in each of us." —Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours
The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home sets her unforgettable new novel in China during WWII, inspired by true events surrounding the Japanese Army’s internment of teachers and children from a British-run missionary school.
Their motto was to be prepared, but nothing could prepare them for war.
China, December 1941. Having left an unhappy life in England for a teaching post at a missionary school in northern China, Elspeth Kent is now anxious to return home to help the war effort. But as she prepares to leave China, a terrible twist of fate determines a different path for Elspeth, and those in her charge.
Ten-year-old Nancy Plummer has always felt safe at Chefoo School, protected by her British status. But when Japan declares war on Britain and America, Japanese forces take control of the school and the security and comforts Nancy and her friends are used to are replaced by privation, uncertainty and fear. Now the enemy, and separated from their parents, the children look to their teachers – to Miss Kent and her new Girl Guide patrol especially – to provide a sense of unity and safety.
Faced with the relentless challenges of oppression, the school community must rely on their courage, faith and friendships as they pray for liberation – but worse is to come when they are sent to a distant internment camp where even greater uncertainty and danger await . . .
Inspired by true events, When We Were Young and Brave is an unforgettable novel about impossible choices and unimaginable hardship, and the life-changing bonds formed between a young girl and her teacher in a remote corner of a terrible war.
About the Author
Hazel Gaynor is the award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 Romantic Novelists’ Association Historical Romantic Novel of the Year award. Her third novel, The Girl from The Savoy, was an Irish Times and Globe and Mail bestseller, and was shortlisted for the 2016 Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. Her most recent novel, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter, was a USA Today and Irish Times bestseller, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Historical Writers’ Association Gold Crown Award. Hazel’s work has been translated into fourteen languages. She lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.
"Told with a keen eye toward history, but also with compassion and humanity, this is a tale as vast as China itself, and as personal as the workings of an individual soul. Gaynor's story of courage and strength will make you believe in the heroic spirit in each of us."
— Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours and The Book Of Lost Friends
"In her newest novel, Hazel Gaynor brings the reader all the way to Japanese-occupied China...A story of courage, friendship, and humanity in the bleakest of circumstances, Gaynor takes a slice of true history and brings it to vivid life. I loved these characters and rooted for them all the way."
— Mary Beth Keane, New York Times bestselling author
“Hazel Gaynor again breathes fresh life into a lost piece of history...While the students and teachers are tested to the limits by the hardship and privations of war, this is ultimately a story of friendship and profound bravery. When We Were Young & Brave is transporting, important, and tremendously moving.”
— Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times best-selling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis
“In When We Were Young and Brave, Hazel Gaynor gifts readers with an extraordinary and unique story of war—one unlike any we have read before...With skill, warmth, and delicate grace, Gaynor peels back the layers of research and fact to reveal the tender heart behind this fascinating piece of history.”
— Lynda Cohen Loigman, USA Today bestselling author of The Two-Family House and The Wartime Sisters
"When We Were Young & Brave is a stunning novel of resilience and hope as a Girl Scout troop must brave the hardships of life in a Japanese internment camp during WWII. Set amidst the captivating, colorful backdrop of China, Gaynor enchants with her masterful storytelling...not to be missed!"
— Heather Webb, USA Today bestselling author
"With her latest, Gaynor unveils a fresh perspective in World War II historical fiction, one that profoundly reveals the power of resilience and community in troubled times. Deeply moving and unforgettable."
— Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue
"A compelling story of innocents caught up in the machine of global conflict, so wonderfully written and soul-stirring. Gaynor beautifully explores the heart’s brave struggle to make sense of the upside-down world that is war. Well done!"
— Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Last Year of the War
"I couldn't put When We Were Young & Brave down. This wonderful story about the Chefoo's School's courageous educators and tenacious students can teach us all something about the power of hope and perseverance in the face of crisis and uncertainty."
— Elise Hooper, acclaimed author of Fast Girls and The Other Alcott
"Hazel Gaynor’s novels are so well researched and so rich in detail that one cannot help but be swept away to a time and place far removed from our own and live the drama through characters so beautifully realized that one walks amongst them. An absolute treat for any reader..."
— Liz Nugent, Irish Times #1 bestselling author of Our Little Cruelties
"Important. Heartrending. Hopeful...I was moved to tears...as Gaynor paid witness to the extraordinary bravery and resilience of the teachers and children of Chefoo School…Hazel Gaynor is an author who never fails to shine a bright light onto our historical pasts, making real-life events and characters dance on the page."
— Carmel Harrington, Irish Times bestselling author of A Thousand Roads Home
“The latest novel from bestselling English author Hazel Gaynor is reminiscent of J.G. Ballard’s powerful classic Empire of the Sun…”