Dec 8, 2014

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

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…


Noel is a very smart boy who is living in London with his godmother. When she becomes more and more forgetful Noel has to shoulder many responsibilities at a very young age. The German's are bombing London and it looks like the Second World War is going to take a while, so all the children need to be evacuated. At first Noel manages to stay, but then the inevitable happens to his godmother and he has to live somewhere else. His new carers think he will be safer elsewhere. He ends up with Vee, a woman who doesn't have a plan and who is all over the place. She's living with her mother and her useless son. Noel and Vee are very different. He's so smart that he has nothing in common with his classmates and he has a posh accent while Vee hasn't had much schooling and can barely write. When Vee is short of money she needs to think of something which isn't going very well. Until Noel helps her out. Together they are quite a good team. Noel has been evacuated, but that doesn't mean he's safe and secure at all. Will he and Vee manage to find their way together or will his life be an even bigger disaster than it already was?
Crooked Heart is a beautiful story about an exceptionally clever boy and a woman without a purpose. They are actually really good for each other and they form a great team. Together Noel and Vee are working very well. I loved the interaction, their mutual plans and, in the end, their appreciation of each other. What they are doing might not be exactly legal, but they don't harm anyone and do have some kind of moral compass. The question what's right and what is wrong has been so beautifully answered in this book. At first it seems like Noel has had some very bad luck when he moves in with Vee, but gradually things start to change. Vee's son puts both of them in danger and I disliked his character very much. Because of him Vee has to make some tough choices. That changes her character and it makes her a better person, which was such a great thing to see. I highly recommend Crooked Heart, because it's a wonderful and strong story. It's definitely one of the best books I've read this year.

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