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Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

Crooked Heart

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"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, a thirty-six year old drowning in debts and dependents. Always desperate for money, she's unscrupulous about how she gets it. 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."

Crooked Heart is a good read. It is very funny and moving and has a heartwarming ending. It is set during the Second World War but shows a different side of it: trying to cope with everyday life.

It is well written with some perfect descriptions. There are sharp insights into the behaviour of the characters and attitudes of society, as well as some very funny random occurrences and eccentric anecdotes.

The characters are well drawn, quirky and diverse. The development of the relationship between Noel and Vera is particularly engaging. Noel, an unusual boy, is especially well portrayed. By telling a story about characters with dubious morals, Evans shows what some people were reduced to doing for survival at this time.

The poignant and touching ending concludes what is essentially a search for love and points the way to a better life for both of the main characters.

Crooked Heart is a thoroughly enjoyable, unusual and easy to read book. It is therefore a perfect choice for a book group.