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’m really excited to be part of the blog tour for Lissa Evans’ latest release, ‘Crooked Heart’, today! The hardback version of the novel was released on the 6th of November 2014 by Transworld and when I read the blurb I was straight away intrigued by the book and couldn’t wait to check out Noel’s story. I’m not necessarily a big fan of World War II fiction, but I had a feeling this would turn out to be quite a unique read and one I wouldn’t want to miss out on. Besides, reading and reviewing ‘Crooked Heart’ would finally provide me with a chance to check out author Lissa Evans, who I’ve heard many positive things about!
Ten-year-old Noel Bostock lives in Hampstead with his godmother Mattie; an ex-suffragette whom Noel is very fond of, but who is also slowly losing her memory and acting more and more strangely. Noel is a little boy who is simply much older than his years, who seems to love books more than he loves people, which is why he doesn’t have any friends. Not that he needs them; Mattie is more than enough for him. However, Mattie’s illness is getting worse and worse and eventually, due to the upcoming war, Noel is evacuated to St. Albans. There he ends up living with Vera Sedge, a thirty-something whose life is quite a mess and who lives together with her son Donald and her mother. Vera is always on the look-out for new ways to get money and, surprisingly, Noel is willing to help her. Together they make a great team, but as the war is getting more serious, Noel and Vera have to deal with all kinds of things that are thrown their way in order to survive and stay together.
‘Crooked Heart’ is set at the start of World War II and focuses mainly on the two protagonists, ten-year-old Noel and thirty-something Vera, who takes Noel in after he has been evacuated. This novel is unlike any other wartime novel I’ve read, and I definitely mean that in a positive way. Both Vera and Noel are incredibly fascinating characters and I loved how the author decided to throw these, at first sight completely different and unmatchable, characters together and let us as readers join them on their adventures and see how the relationship between them develops. There are also several other quirky and intriguing characters that make an appearance in the book, such as Vera’s mother Flora who spends almost all of her time writing letters to politicians and the Overs, Noel’s guardians, who try to be as a friendly as possible but at the same time don’t have place for Noel in their lives.
Obviously, World War II was a terrible time, but Lissa Evans managed to use this scene setting to introduce us to certain characters who all deal with this war in their own way and at the end I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face. Lissa Evans has her own style of writing which I had to get used to, but it’s definitely unique and comes with an entertaining touch of dark humour. The story is quite quick-paced and there were no passages that dragged; it really had my attention from beginning to end. ‘Crooked Heart’ is a fascinating, well-written, character-driven novel that is wonderfully unique; I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like this before and it has given me high hopes for Lissa Evans’ other works!