Long-listed for the Baileys Prize
‘Both darkly funny and deeply touching —a crooked journey, straight to the heart.’ The New York Times
‘At the crooked heart of this lovely novel there an odd-couple relationship… between an odd, clever, and very lonely boy and a dodgy, desperate woman in early middle-age. Their reliance on each other is credible, touching and funny. Evans is carving out a distinctive niche for herself by poking into the cracks made in England by Hitler’s bombs and examining the teeming life within’ Nick Hornby
‘Unmissable…Why is Lissa Evans not one of our best-known and best-loved authors?’ Sunday Express
‘The story starts in the London blitz, in a dazzling, tragicomic prologue… a miniature masterpiece of serio-comic writing’ The Guardian
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 is 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 from one self-made crisis to the next. The war has 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…
The chaotic, semi-feral teaming up of Vera and Noel is as sparky and funny as ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ and as charming and touching as ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’, but then every now and again comes the vertiginous feeling of peering into something unutterably, dangerously sad. Everybody, and I mean everybody, is getting this for Christmas. Louisa Young, author of ‘My Dear, I Wanted to Tell you’
Quite wonderful – ‘Crooked Heart’ is beautifully written, moving, funny – just perfect. I don’t usually like novels about the war. I think “What’s the point? – the true stories are so good.” But this one and Evelyn Waugh are way up in a class of their own. Superb. Juliet Gardiner, social historian and author of ‘Wartime: Britain 1939 – 1945′
‘I’m putting Crooked Heart on the shelf of my most treasured books, between I Capture the Castle and The Pursuit of Love. I couldn’t love it more’ – India Knight
‘Cleverly written, with shades of light and dark that manipulate the emotions, this easy-to-read novel is deceptively complex and utterly charming.’ Sunday Mirror
‘…there’s a great galloping joy in it. Evans has a delightful tone, airy and bouncy….but with a perceptive irony and a spattering of caustic details stirred through. It recalls carefully constructed, deceptively light comic novels by the likes of Stella Gibbons and Nancy Mitford….a refreshingly crisp approach, that allows moments of genuine pathos to be all the more resonant.’ The Independent on Sunday