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…
What I Thought: Having been a huge fan of books like Carrie’s War and Goodnight Mr Tom, I was absolutely charmed by Crooked Heart. Noel’s story is instantly touching, as his beloved Godmother and guardian begins her mental decline, and her presence is quite vivid throughout the rest of the book. The way Lissa Evans has written Noel, you can see that Mattie is always with him so, despite her death, her sayings and the way in which she has tried to prepare Noel for life still remain.
It’s very clear that Noel is exactly what Vee needs in her life – her mother and son care not a jot for her and the care she gives them, and she can’t seem to keep hold of any money she earns – legitimately or otherwise. When Noel comes along, her first thought is to take him in and fleece his guardians for money, but she begins to see a different side to his quiet nature and their relationship by the end of the book is just lovely.
This post is part of the blog tour for Crooked Heart and, as a treat, I’ve been allowed to share an extract from the novel, so please do read it to whet your appetite!
Please Note: I was given a copy of Crooked Heart for participation in the blog tour and in exchange for an honest review, but I really did love the book!