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Staff Picks

May 30, 2016

Crooked Heart

Crooked Heart
by Evans, Lissa

In bombed and war-ravaged London, Vee takes in orphaned 10-year-old Noel, whose godmother Mattie has died suddenly. Vee is not driven by generous impulse; she wants the allowance that comes with caring for Noel. Disappointed by men and love, Vee's tumultuous life has given her a tough shell; her elderly mother is mute by choice and her shiftless son Donald is a pillar of immorality. Into the lives of these misfits stumbles poor Noel - bookish, awkward,and desperately missing the anchor of Mattie and their Highgate house.

The characters are bewitching. Brusque and hardened Vee, possessed of the proverbial heart of gold and poor little Noel, old beyond his years and wanted by no one, with his sticking-out ears and difficult ways. They are a glorious combination, with a story that will grab you and never let you go until you turn the last page. The supporting characters are just as engaging: Vee's mother, who has lost the power of speech but writes admonishing letters about the war effort to everyone from Winston Churchill to Arthur Askey; Vee's son Donald - delighted that his dicky heart has allowed him to dodge the draft; and Noel's atheist godmother Mattie, a former suffragette who appears only in the prologue but makes an indelible mark on the plot.

Greater events of wartime Britain are the background, often in the hilarious epistles to Churchill. The impact of this “moral war” on the home-front is to suspend peacetime ethics. But in the end, there is redemption for nearly everyone, and perhaps a journey toward love.

Lissa Evans is a wry and gifted voice - and Crooked Heart is a true tour de force of modern literature.

Crooked Heart is also available as an eBook and an eAudiobook.

          --Recommended by Emily Talbott, Nora Library



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