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Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

Crooked Heart (2014)

by Lissa Evans

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3703543,899 (4.15)74
  1. 10
    Goblin by Ever Dundas (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Similar themes - tough young evacuees and how they make a life for themselves.
  2. 00
    News of the World by Paulette Jiles (sturlington)
    sturlington: These are both historical novels about the relationship that forms between an orphan and an adult. Both seem like old-fashioned stories, in a good way, and will warm your heart.
  3. 00
    The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (2wonderY)
    2wonderY: similar premise and also well done

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» See also 74 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
It's a bit twee, and it wraps up a bit neatly, but it's a thoroughly enjoyable read. I never really warmed up to Vee, but I truly think this is an issue with me, not with the book. Crooked Heart is the kind of book you pick up after a lousy week at work or you have the flu. Yes, bad things happen, but the ending manages some cheer in spite of the homefront horrors of World War II. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
I could not get into this book. While historical fiction (and especially WWII based) is one of my favorite genres, I had a hard time following along with this story. I found myself re-reading the same passages over and over and not being able to remember why and how characters had interacted in the past. It was well-written, it just didn't have a deep plot or likable characters in my opinion. ( )
  sbenne3 | Aug 14, 2017 |
A thoroughly entertaining historical novel with well drawn characters. Also, the narration of the audio by Karen Cass was compelling, adding to its appeal. ( )
  PaperDollLady | Jul 24, 2017 |
I loved this story. An evacuee in WWII housed with a woman who is his total opposite. But they grow to love each other. Humorous and heartwarming. ( )
  scot2 | Jul 24, 2017 |
Ten-year-old Noel Bostock is an odd boy, smart, a reader, independent. He lives with his godmother until she goes senile and then dies. Left bereft, Noel is evacuated with other London children at the start of the Blitz, when Vee takes him in on impulse. Vee lives hand-to-mouth, always with some small scam going, always on the point of eviction; she has a shiftless son and a doddering mother. Together, Noel and Vee are an odd couple, but Noel begins to help Vee improve her scams and their relationship deepens as the bombing of London gets under way.

This is a sweet and charming book about how people need each other, quiet for the most part, and often humorous, which is a take on the Blitz I've not yet seen. (I particularly enjoyed Vee's mother's letters to the prime minister and the scenes in the crowded shelters during the air raids.) I'm not sure how well it will stick, but I found it a light-hearted and quick read, and an antidote for all the horrifying WWII books I've been getting burned out on. ( )
1 vote sturlington | Mar 11, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
In her Orange-longlisted Their Finest Hour and a Half, Evans charted the capricious fortunes of a company making a dodgy propaganda film about Dunkirk. Crooked Heart is a dark comedy, moving between drollery, pathos, farce and harrowing moments of tragic insight; it’s also a grey comedy, situated among backstreet have-nots subsisting hand-to-mouth in a St Albans of stint and grudge....The prologue is a miniature masterpiece of serio-comic writing whose quality renders the more banal main story curiously anticlimactic...But the comedy of Crooked Heart is interestingly diverse and unstable.
An odd couple tale, Crooked Heart charts the relationship between a young orphan evacuee, Noel, sent to St Albans during the Second World War to live with Vera Sedge, who’s already struggling to make ends meet caring for her indolent son and mute mother...Evans has a delightful tone, airy and bouncy as a good Victoria sponge but with a perceptive irony and a spattering of caustic details stirred through. It recalls carefully constructed, deceptively light comic novels by the likes of Stella Gibbons and Nancy Mitford.

Crooked Heart is steeped in its historical moment, and Evans’s use of the idiom of the era is particularly convincing....But Evans never lets the period detail overwhelm her story – and, crucially, she doesn’t over-sentimentalise it either....And while the horror of war is tilted at, it’s also often a source of laughter in the dark: the casualty of an air raid is a comically flattened chicken, while serious injury is inflicted by a clumsy ambulance driver carelessly opening a door. It’s a refreshingly crisp approach, that allows moments of genuine pathos to be all the more resonant.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lissa Evansprimary authorall editionscalculated
Unwin, JoNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Kate Anthony and Gaby Chiappe
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PROLOGUE: She was losing words.

CHAPTER 1:Hitler was thumbing his nose from just across the Channel, and London had decided to move the children out again, all the ones who had never gone.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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amazon ukLonglisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, 2015

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…
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A precocious orphan evacuee and a debt-ridden widow con artist forge an unlikely alliance and take advantage ofunscrupulous money-making opportunities in the bombed suburbs of World War II England.

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