Meet Tom Bedford. Like Nicholas Evans, the author who created him, Tom grew up in England, became infatuated with the American West, worked in Hollywood and ultimately chose writing as his profession. But unlike Evans, who established a following with his blockbuster hit The Horse Whisperer and lives with his wife, our protagonist has only a moderately satisfying writing career and dwells in an empty house he built with his ex-wife, whom he still loves. Tom, it is clear from the start, is stuck in a number of ways. He is estranged from his son, Danny, who is fighting in Iraq and on the brink of a life-changing tragedy. And a secret from Tom’s past—the truth of what happened to his beautiful actress mother—has shaped his life. Concealing that secret has required an astonishing number of lies.

When Tom becomes infatuated with a young writer, he imagines sharing the truth about his past with her. But he can’t, believing that it would be too great a betrayal to those who mean the most to him. He reflects, “That was the thing with lies. Like the gnarled and twisted pines that grew along the Front Range, the longer they lived the stronger they became.”

The Brave is an engrossing tale that deals mainly with clearing out these lies and examining the past that produced them, suggesting that, as Faulkner said, “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” Fans of The Horse Whisperer won’t want to miss this complex and satisfying story. For readers who have not had the pleasure of reading Evans, but are looking to get lost in a big novel with larger-than-life characters, The Brave is sure to fit the bill.

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