Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my thoughts (and no spoilers) on the latest novel by Lissa Evans, V for Victory, which will be published in the UK tomorrow. Thank you to Doubleday for a digital review copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour.
It’s late 1944. Allied victory is on its way, but it’s ruddy well dragging its feet. Hitler’s rockets are slamming down on London with vicious regularity and it’s the coldest winter in living memory.
In a large house next to Hampstead Heath, Vera Sedge is just about scraping by, with a household of lodgers to feed, and her young ward Noel (almost fifteen) to clothe and educate. When she witnesses a road accident and finds herself in court, the effects are both unexpectedly marvellous, and potentially deadly, 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, and not in the way any of them could ever expect.
This is the first book I’ve read by Lissa Evans and it won’t be the last. I hadn’t realised that there are two more books in this series, Old Baggage and Crooked Heart. I was able to read this as a standalone novel but I do now plan to go back and read other two books.
The book starts in late 1944 with Noel growing up in Hampstead, being tutored by the paying guests in his house, whilst being looked after by his ‘aunt’ Mrs Margery Overs, aka Vee. Early on in the story, he meets a ARP warden called Winnie, and the stories of Noel, Vee and Winnie become interwoven through the book.
I loved the mixture of characters, from the guests at the boarding house to the American GI’s. Some of the story is harrowing – how quickly the V2 bombs could destroy a road, but this is interspersed with humour so doesn’t feel as dark as some of the historical fiction I’ve read recently.
Noel is a very intelligent young man, who loves to find out more about everything and tries to make meals out of their very limited rations. He reminded me of the young Gerald Durrell from the TV series and books, a young person who was better educated than many of the adults around him.
Winnie was one of my favourite characters, I loved the scene in the posh restaurant when she is given a copy of Avril’s book. It was good to see the work of these brave people recognised, helping those injured and made homeless by the bombings.
An enjoyable well written novel set in wartime London.
Lissa Evans has written books for both adults and children, including Their Finest Hour and a Half, longlisted for the Orange (now Women’s) Prize, Small Change for Stuart, shortlisted for many awards including the Carnegie Medal and the Costa Book Awards and Crooked Heart, longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.
OLD BAGGAGE was a sell-out Waterstone’s Book of the Month; THEIR FINEST HOUR AND A HALF was adapted into a star-studded film with Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy.
Lissa is available for press pieces and interview.
For further information please contact Alison Barrow: firstname.lastname@example.org | 020 8231 6654