Source: TLC Book Tours
Hardcover, 288 pgs.
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Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans is an odd narrative in that it is disjointed at times and features a number of eccentric characters, including 10-year-old Noel, Vee, and Donald. Noel is a young orphan evacuee who is sent to live with Vee, Donald, and Vee’s mother during WWII. Noel’s a quiet boy who loves detective novels and is incredibly heart-broken by the time he reaches their home. Vee, on the other hand, is struggling to make ends meet only to have a son who does little more than expect her to wait on him and barely goes to his job. Evans captures the essence of these struggling residents during rationing and bombardments by the Nazis. Readers will be fully engaged by the historical setting, but the pairing of this intelligent boy and this woman who is looking for the next get rich quick scheme, is unlikely and tough to take at face value until more than halfway through the novel.
“His teeth were regular and well-spaced, like battlements. Noel liked to imagine tiny soldiers popping up between them, firing arrows across the room or pouring molten lead down Uncle Geoffrey’s chin.” (pg. 10 ARC)
“The day after that, all the children disappeared, as if London had shrugged and the small people had fallen off the edge.” (pg. 15 ARC)
Vee is impulsive and Noel is level-headed, and like Vee, Donald, makes impulsive decisions that often land him into trouble. Evans has a way with imagery and she captures the tumultuous times deftly, but often the disjointed narrative can pull readers out of the story, especially when she moves from one perspective to another with little to no transition. However, as the relationship develops between Vee and Noel, moving from a business relationship to a more familial relationship, readers will become invested in their struggles. The story of Donald, her son, however, fades in importance, and by the end almost feels as though it was an add-on, not really integral to the story.
Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans provides a realistic look at life in London and elsewhere in England at the time of WWII when rationing was in full swing and bombings were a real concerns, especially for residents of London. Vee and Noel are able to find a home among the wreckage, and while not everyone’s stories are wrapped up neatly, Evans develops a realistic picture of wartime England.
About the Author:
Lissa Evans, a former radio and television producer, is the author of three previous novels, including Their Finest Hour and a Half, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Crooked Heart was also longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize); it is her first novel to be published in the US. Evans lives in London with her family. Find out more about Evans at her website, and follow her on Twitter.