Yet again using Red Magazine as my guide, I requested an ARC of V For Victory by Lissa Evans from NetGalley. Here’s the blurb:
“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…
With caustic wit and artful storytelling, Lissa Evans elegantly summons a time when the world could finally hope to emerge from the chaos of war. As sharply comic as Old Baggage and emotionally poignant as Crooked Heart, V For Victory once again shows Lissa Evans to be one of our most brilliant and subtle writers.”
Now – I didn’t realise until I saw on NetGalley – there are actually 2 books that precede this. I hadn’t realised it was part of a set and so read it standalone – which was totally fine, and the relevant back story was fleshed out enough that it made sense. However, if I’d known I probably would have read the other two books first – mostly because I’m a pedant who likes to do things in order.
The book tells the story of Noel and Vee and the interesting tenants of their boarding house near Hampstead Heath – and then a story running parallel, which interconnects at times, of Winnie a local ARP warden and her friends and family.
This is a beautifully written book and really evokes the feeling of London at this time in history. The destruction and sadness – but with glimpses of happiness and normality. The way the buildings are described – pre and post bombings – is wonderful, and makes it really easy to imagine being there.
The tenants of Green Shutters are an eclectic mix – and all teaching Noel different subjects. He’s a geek (in a good way, I am a geek and see this as a compliment!) and interested in learning – I liked him a lot! I was also proud of his chicken keeping (my kids love our chickens too).
Winnie was a wonderful character – she just knuckled down and got on with life. The sometimes strained relationship with her sister Avril was really well written – sibling rivalries – in this case even more so as twins – was observed excellently. The camaraderie between Winnie and her ARP colleagues – and many of the locals – was also beautifully portrayed. The letters between Winnie and her husband – who was away at war – were talked about a number of times – and the evolving story of them, particularly at the end of the book, was really moving – but also funny.
There are twist and turns involving Noel’s parentage which were really emotive – in very different ways. One minute you were happy, then sad, then laughing, then shocked – the whole gamut of emotions was run!
This is not a bare knuckle ride of a book, it’s a beautiful, well written, evocative novel and I really enjoyed it.
If I had my time again I would probably read the series in order – but overall this was a lovely escapist read, and I would highly recommend it. It came out yesterday – so you can buy it now!