Book Review: V for Victory by Lissa Evans

It’s late 1944. Hitler’s rockets are slamming down on London with vicious regularity and it’s the coldest winter in living memory. Allied victory is on its way, but it’s bloody well dragging its feet.

In a large house next to Hampstead Heath, Vee Sedge is just about scraping by, with a herd of lodgers to feed, and her young charge Noel (almost fifteen) to clothe and educate. When she witnesses a road accident and finds herself in court, the repercussions are both unexpectedly marvellous and potentially disastrous – disastrous because Vee is not actually the person she’s pretending to be, and neither is Noel.

The end of the war won’t just mean peace, but discovery…

What I Thought:

Having read Old Baggage and Crooked Heart, I was delighted to continue the series with V For Victory.

After meeting Noel Bostock in Crooked Heart, Old Baggage focused on his beloved Aunt, Mattie, and revealed how the two old souls came to be in each other’s lives, but now we’re back with Noel and his guardian, Vee, as they go about their lives in a London in the midst of war.

The focus of this book is not all the flash-bang-drama of a war book – although there certainly IS drama – but it’s more about the people of London and Noel and Vee especially. There is a real sense of the war being in the closing stages, and that the people of London and the main characters in the book are counting down the clock until the shouting is over. You get a strong sense of ennui throughout, and it’s a definite skill to make you feel like that, while still grabbing your attention.

I was really struck by the similarities between Vee in this book and Mattie in Old Baggage. Although their backgrounds couldn’t be more different, they are connected as women trying to find their place in the world and also as women whose lives have been touched by Noel. Noel has matured since the first book and is a kind and thoughful young man and while Vee would claim that his intelligence and curiousity about the world comes from his early life with Mattie, you can see the effect that she herself has had on him. She could have easily discarded Noel at any time and yet she stuck with him and works hard to ensure he has a good education and this is not lost on Noel who clearly cares deeply for Vee.

Despite Noel’s overall satisfaction with his life, you can tell that there is still an underlying need to find out who he is – something that comes into play heavily in this book. This is one of the instances where it might benefit you to have read the earlier books, but it is by no means essential (although highly recommended!).

I have often recommended all three books in this series as they are beautifully written, with superb period detail and main characters that really live long in the memory. There is spectacularly dry humour here, but where the plot needs to pack a punch, it very much does so, whether that is with a huge event which rocks a number of lives, or a small, everyday detail that could easily be missed in the grand scheme of things.

I could go on and on, but put quite simply, this trilogy is just superb!

V for Victory is published by Doubleday.

About the Author:

Lissa Evans grew up in the West Midlands. She comes from a family of voracious readers and spent most of her adolescence in the local library, thus becoming well read if not wildly popular.

After studying medicine at Newcastle University, she worked as a junior doctor for four years, before deciding to change to a career in which she wasn’t terrified the entire time; a job in BBC Radio light entertainment followed, and then a switch to television, where she produced and directed series including ‘Room 101’ and also ‘Father Ted’, for which she won a BAFTA.

Her first book, ‘Spencer’s List’ was published in 2002, and since then she has written five more novels for adults (one of which, ‘Their Finest Hour and a Half’, was filmed in 2017) and three novels for children. She lives in London with her husband and two daughters. She still reads voraciously.

Please note: I received a copy of this book via Netgalley for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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