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Crooked Heart

posted by: November 18, 2015 - 7:00am

Cover art for Crooked HeartA lame orphan, an incompetent grifter and London’s Blitz might comprise a fairly grim story. Instead, author Lissa Evans’ Crooked Heart: A Novel is darkly comedic and heartwarming as it focuses on the incongruous pairing of a posh city child and his conniving country mouse foster parent.  

 

Meet Mrs. Vee Sedge: resident of rural St. Albans, lives with her indolent adult son and disabled mother who writes motivational letters to Winston Churchill regarding homefront morale and offering friendly advice (“I saw your picture in the paper last week and I hope you don’t mind me saying that I wonder if you’re getting enough fresh air.”) Vee is so desperate for money that she’s taken out a life insurance policy on an elderly neighbor, who foils Vee’s plans by failing to die, and she goes door to door collecting money for the war effort which she keeps for herself. When Vee sees Noel limping through her village as part of a parade of children evacuated from London to evade Hitler’s bombs, she volunteers to care for the little boy, not out of patriotic duty, but as a prop to a con.

 

Noel is the child who never fits in. Precocious, pale and unathletic, he is also bereft since the death of his beloved godmother. Farmed out to the putative safety of the Sedge’s shabby quarters, Noel perks up when he realizes he can be the brains behind Vee’s ill-conceived swindles. World War II’s privations were harsh and Evans frames the duo’s petty frauds in a landscape where the common folk of England must scheme to survive. Nominated for a Bailey’s Women’s Prize for fiction, Crooked Heart’s clever writing, multifaceted characters and thoughtful story make this an engaging read and a winning book club pick.


 
 

Lori, this sounds so good! I've placed a request for it at my branch.

Sharon, I hope you find it as entertaining as I did! The wonderful writing and dry wit reminded me of I Capture the Castle or Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, both of which are personal favorites.

I really adored this book; It was so witty and sweet!!! (I also adored I capture the Castle and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, so when you mentioned those two, I had to read this!)

@Betsy, guess what? Helen Simonson, author our beloved "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand", has a new book coming out toward the end of March. It's titled "The Summer Before the War" and you can reserve a library copy now. I am looking forward to it.



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Revised: November 18, 2015