Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
Published by Doubleday
6th November 2014
When Noel Bostock – aged ten, no family - is evacuated from London to escape the Blitz, he ends up living in St Albans with Vera Sedge - thirty-six and drowning in debts and dependents. Always desperate for money, she’s unscrupulous about how she gets it.
Noel’s mourning his godmother, Mattie, a former suffragette. Brought up to share her disdain for authority and eclectic approach to education, he has little in common with other children and even less with Vee, who hurtles impulsively from one self-made crisis to the next. The war’s thrown up new opportunities for making money but what Vee needs (and what she’s never had) is a cool head and the ability to make a plan.
On her own, she’s a disaster. With Noel, she’s a team.
Together they cook up an idea. Criss-crossing the bombed suburbs of London, Vee starts to make a profit and Noel begins to regain his interest in life.
But there are plenty of other people making money out of the war and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn’t actually safe at all…
I've had this sitting on my kindle waiting to be read for ages, when finally, last week, I decided that the time had come to give it a go. Set during the Second World War, Crooked Heart tells of a precocious ten year old boy, Noel, who on the death of his godmother, is evacuated to St Albans. Always ready for a little bit of something extra, he is taken in by Vera Sedge, who is anything but a motherly soul looking to help out an evacuated child.
In a manner similar to that of Goodnight Mister Tom, Vera and Noel are thrown together in more ways than one, particularly when Vera decides that Noel can help her earn that little bit extra, in manners that aren't exactly above board. Unfortunately, the war brings out the best in some people, and the worst in others, and Noel is about to find that out. Was moving to St Albans really the safest thing for him to do?
Crooked Heart is a war-time book that highlights the plight of those living their lives in England. There are some very dramatic scenes involving bombing that are truly believable and heart-wrenching. Lissa Evans was long-listed for the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction 2015 for this book and once you've read it, you can see why.
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