Summary and book reviews of Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

Crooked Heart

by Lissa Evans

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2015, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2016, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite

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About this Book

Book Summary

Paper Moon meets the Blitz in this original black comedy, set in World War II England, chronicling an unlikely alliance between a small time con artist and a young orphan evacuee.

When Noel Bostock - aged ten, no family - is evacuated from London to escape the Nazi bombardment, he lands in a suburb northwest of the city with Vera Sedge - a thirty-six-year old widow 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. Wise beyond his years, raised with a disdain for authority and an eclectic attitude toward education, he has little in common with other children and even less with the impulsive Vee, who hurtles from one self-made crisis to the next. The war's provided unprecedented 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 a scheme. Crisscrossing 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...

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 come back and all the ones who had never gone. This time Noel was going with them; once again, he hadn't been consulted. Margery had packed his suitcase and Geoffrey had walked him round to Rhyll Street Junior School, like a prisoner under escort. Not that he'd had any thought of escape: being sent away with a classful of children he hated was still an improvement on life in 23B Mafeking Road.

When the whistle blew at St Pancras, he watched the guard slide backwards. The train moved from under the blacked-out roof and sunshine slapped him in the face. He wrote: I am sitting next to Harvey Madeley. His backside is so enormous that he is wearing his father's trousers cut down into shorts.

'Here we all are,' said Mr Waring, entering the compartment. 'The Rhyll Street Fifth Column. And young Noel with his pencil and paper....

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Evans treads a careful path through the light and dark sides of criminality during World War II. Although the tone of the story is light and often humorous, the dark backdrop of war is always present. London during the Blitz is successfully portrayed and Evans manages to convey a sense of tragedy, fear and loss without losing an overarching sense of humor and optimism. Evans keeps the story on track and doesn't slip into mawkishness or bathos. Overall, Crooked Heart is an entertaining and heart-warming read.   (Reviewed by Kate Braithwaite).

Full Review (524 words).

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Media Reviews

The New York Times Book Review

This is a wonderfully old-fashioned Dickensian novel, with satisfying plot twists . . . Both darkly funny and deeply touching . . . It’s a crooked journey, straight to the heart.

Publishers Weekly

[A] tragicomic portrayal of the petty betrayals and profound losses that characterized ordinary people's everyday wartime experiences.

Kirkus Reviews

A dark, cherishable, very English comedy about not-so-funny times and events.

The Independent (UK)

Evans tidily unfolds a satisfying plot…But it's the over-arching development of the lost little boy and the harried woman's affection and admiration for one another that really tugs the reader's own heart crooked...There's great galloping joy in it.

The Daily Mail (UK)

This autumn's feel-good novel teams up two unlikely characters at the outbreak of World War II…Evans has written an old-fashioned comedy of manners, which is heartwarming, without being mawkish, and extremely funny.

The Daily Express (UK)

What will become of this fragile, touching pair? It's a mark of how charming this novel is that you worry… Even hard-bitten book reviewers occasionally feel a moisture around the eyes. I did.

The Sunday Mirror (UK)

Deceptively complex and utterly charming.

Author Blurb Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy
"With not a single combatant and only a few bombs, Lissa Evans has written a wonderful novel about the Second World War. Her two main characters are utterly irresistible, as is their unlikely alliance; I was cheering them on with every page.

Author Blurb Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You
I loved this book. Lissa Evans is a wonderful writer; Vee and Noel are utter originals, and their journey made me laugh and cry.

Reader Reviews

Diane S.

Crooked Heart
Hard to believe I could find a novel about the London Blitz and WWII both heartwarming and at times ironically humorous. But I did and much of this is due to the author and her wonderful characterizations. I quickly fell in love with ten year old ...   Read More

FictionZeal

from FictionZeal.com re: Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
Ten-year-old Noel Bostock wasn’t living an affluent life. But he felt loved and protected under the care of his godmother, Mattie. She is very set in her ways and refuses to evacuate Noel. But that’s OK with him; the only company he needs is ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Operation Pied Piper

Operation Pied Piper Poster In Crooked Heart, Noel Bostock, aged 10, is evacuated from London during World War II. The evacuations that took place in British cities at this time constitute the biggest and most concentrated mass movement of people in the country's history.

Known as Operation Pied Piper, the planned evacuation began in September 1939. Britain and France had made a commitment to defend Poland from Hitler and when German troops crossed the Polish border on September 1, 1939, a declaration of war was the inevitable response. Although exact numbers are difficult to come by, almost 3.75 million were evacuated out of towns and cities thought to be in danger from German bombers. Upwards of 1.5 million were transported in just the first four days of ...

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