Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

crooked-heart-cover Upon seeing this book at the library, I was intrigued by the quirky characters, and it does have them, but there’s also a sweet story too. Not a sappy story, but one which endears. Taking place in England during WW2, Noel, a brainy nine year old, is living with his godmother and is evacuated to a London suburb after she passes away. The person who takes him in is a middle-aged lady who mostly goes by the name of Vera. She has an adult son who is exempted from service due to health reasons and he lives a secretive life full of schemes. Vera is also a small time con artist and soon involves Noel, who actually finds ways to improve her projects. Watching these two personalities learn about and move towards trusting each other is the core of the book and what makes it appealing. The multi-layered portrayals of them, as well as secondary characters, expands the story and I could have happily read another two hundred pages about them.
Another element I liked about the book was the details of England in the war and during the Blitz. Not just about things like ration books and blackouts, but the feeling of being in an air raid shelter, jammed in with neighbors and strangers, waiting out the scary minutes or sometimes hours. There’s also a passage describing the streets of a town under bombardment, the streets dark except for the flashes of explosions. It was the most vivid depiction of an air attack since the most recent movie adaptation of The End of the Affair.
While some parts of the book are slightly predictable, there’s some wild twists towards the end that you don’t see coming at all. I don’t fully understand all of the meanings behind the title, but I do know that this is a book with a lot of heart and certainly found a little place in mine.

Harper 2015 288 pp. ISBN-13:978-0062364838

One comment on “Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

  1. Jay Lemming
    November 29, 2016

    This review reminds me slightly of All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, another World War II story told from the perspective of citizens struggling during wartime, though that novel takes place in France, not England. What I’ve often found about stories about World War II including, apparently, Crooked Heart, is that the complexity of relationships between characters can take on unexpected, wonderful meaning. I cannot even begin to imagine the trauma that must have impacted everyone in Europe during those horrible years but, as depicted in literature such as the book you’re reviewing now, it would seem to have brought some of the greatest qualities of human connection to light, as well. Thanks for the review. Jay Lemming

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This entry was posted on November 18, 2016 by in Entries by Jackie, Fiction: 21st Century, Fiction: general, Fiction: historical and tagged , , , , .

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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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