Archive for the ‘Lissa Evans’ Category

I must be going through my quirky character phase. I’m cCrookedHearturrently reading The Little Paris Bookshop and if that doesn’t have quirky characters, I don’t know what book does. Crooked Heart, though, follows a close second.¬†Crooked Heart is Lissa Evans’ first book published in the United States, although she is no stranger to writing, having published three other books for children and adults. It is a book about dysfunctional LittleParisBookshopfamilies, connivers and swindlers coming together and it’s two main characters are endearing.

It is World War II London. Noel is 10 years old when his godmother, Mattie, with whom he lived and who he adored,¬†dies in a snow bank. Having nowhere to go, he ends up living with Mattie’s cousin, the insufferable Geoffrey Overs and his fragile, neat to a fault, wife Margery. As the war closes in, Noel is forced by Geoffrey to evacuate. Ending up in the small town of St. Albans, he along with his classmates, is paraded door to door to find a suitable foster home. However, having big ears and a limp, placing Noel poses a problem…until Vera Sedge sees him and has an idea. A schemer and always short of money, she realizes that she will get compensated for tending to ‘poor Noel’.

Noel had been mostly silent at the Overs’ and continued this with Vee, as well. But, his intelligence and her lack of common sense in her efforts to raise money, force him to start talking. Her need for money and his lack of (some) scruples, lead them to team up and together they form a formidable pair. Add Vee’s illegitimate son Donald, a schemer in his own rite, her mother who doesn’t speak a word and constantly writes letters to England’s leaders stressing her opinion on their ineffective leadership and Hilde, the Austrian girl living in England and working at a munitions factory and always comparing her spare life to the grandeur of her former Austrian home and the quirky characters get quirkier.

Noel is smarter than the average 10 year old, with an ethical code that is unusual. While he doesn’t mind swindling some people, he is outraged when others act similarly. Vee is just a down and out in need of some money to survive. What begins as a financial transaction for Vee, however, turns into true caring and it is this process that makes Crooked Heart so heartwarming.

I don’t know how Evans came up with the idea of the book or how the schemes she describes came to mind, but they are unique. Her descriptions paint images of people, places and situations, including war torn London. While I was reading the first hundred pages sporadically, I whizzed through the last 150 pages because I couldn’t wait to see where Evans took Vee and Noel.

For those readers looking for the unusual, not your run of the mill best seller, you’d be wise to pick up Crooked Heart. It’ll do your heart good.

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