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Crooked Heart

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  4,320 ratings  ·  749 reviews
When Noel Bostock—aged ten, no family—is evacuated from London to escape the Nazi bombardment, he lands in a suburb northwest of the city with Vera Sedge—a thirty-six-year old widow drowning in debts and dependents. Always desperate for money, she’s unscrupulous about how she gets it.

Noel’s mourning his godmother Mattie, a former suffragette. Wise beyond his years, raised
Hardcover, First U.S. Edition, 283 pages
Published July 28th 2015 by Harper (first published November 6th 2014)
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Siobhain I think we forget that Noel was just a boy. It is quite consequential to an adult that he owns that house, but it probably seems quite matter-of-fact…moreI think we forget that Noel was just a boy. It is quite consequential to an adult that he owns that house, but it probably seems quite matter-of-fact to him. I am also pretty sure that the house was not something he would want to reveal to Vee until he trusted her and until her son and crazy mother were no longer part of the package of her life. (less)

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3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,320 ratings  ·  749 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Hard to believe I could find a novel about the London Blitz and WWII both heartwarming and at times ironically humorous. But I did and much of this is due to the author and her wonderful characterizations. I quickly fell in love with ten year old Noel, a precocious boy of unknown origins who was being raised by his suffragette and eccentric godmother, Mattie.

Eventually he will be one of the children evacuated and taken in by a woman named Vee, who sees this as an opportunity to make some money.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . ."”

----C.S. Lewis

Lissa Evans, an English writer, pens a heart-touching historical fiction, Crooked Heart: A Novel about unusual friendships set against the vivid and honest backdrop in London during the world war II, when Germany was constantly dropping off bombs over the city of London.


When Noel Bostock—aged ten, no family—is evacuated from London to escape the Nazi
Charming would probably be how lots of people describe this book. Charm though doesn’t work on everyone and this novel’s charm was lost on me. For one thing the material was spread very thin – people have written memorable short stories with more material. Also, considering the novel’s subject matter was largely everyday life, I found suspension of disbelief difficult at times. For example when Noel, the rather clichéd precocious orphan, is evacuated he moves into a home where both mother and so ...more
Dec 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a sweet story about a ten year old boy called Noel orphaned and evacuated from London to the small town of St Albans during the blitz after the death of his guardian. He is taken in by Vera, a woman struggling to keep her head above water financially who sees him as an extra source of income. Noel is an unusual boy, brought up by his godmother Mattie, an elderly ex-suffragette, and is quiet and bookish with a vocabulary and wisdom well beyond his years. He's disliked by the other evacue ...more
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ten year old Noel Bostock lives in Hampstead with his godmother Mattie; an ex suffragette with strong and decided opinions. Noel is bookish, with few friends, but he is very happy with Mattie, so, when she begins to lose her memory and act oddly, his life begins to fall apart. Despite his longing for his life to remain as it is, Mattie’s illness and the encroaching war lead to Noel being evacuated to the relative safety of nearby St Alban’s.

Noel dislikes his classmates and, although grateful to
Raven Haired Girl
A tender story of survival, loss, the necessity for love, and how an unlikely pair can end up forming a powerful team.

Wartime London vividly depicted. The difficulties and challenges along with the undeniable danger all halting. Very affecting allowing the reader to comprehend the lengths taken for basic survival.

I adored both Vee and Noel – opposites in need of each other for varying reasons. The connection Noel shared with Mattie was compelling. I felt for his loss, it is heartbreaking. He str
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Isn’t it lovely when you find a story that really strikes a chord?

This is the story of ten year-old Noel Bostock. He lived in Hampstead with his godmother Mattie; she had been a suffragette and she had firm and individual opinions, formed over the course of a life well lived. Noel was bright and he was bookish; he had little in common with children his own age, he didn’t understand them at all, and so he had few friends; but he was very happy with Mattie. They understood each other.

But when Matt
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just recently in a review I bemoaned that a book about WWII needed to add something unique to that enormous body of literature for me to find it notable. Well, lo and behold, along comes this book to warm my heart and tickle my soul.

“Crooked Heart” begins on the periphery of World War II in the outskirts of London. Noel is a 10-year-old orphan living with his beloved godmother in “a spacious brick box, with a fancy ironwood verandah and a garden full of azaleas. ‘A Victorian gentleman’s residen
Laura Leaney
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm so glad I read this novel Thanksgiving week, as it's been quite a while since I was emotionally invested in a book's characters enough to feel a profound gratefulness to the power of love. So many books on World War II and London's Blitz are sentimental and tired, but Lissa Evans's is beautifully moving because the war is second to the desperate characters. Parts of the book are funny, while other parts provoke anxiety on behalf of a little boy named Noel who is preternaturally intelligent a ...more
Book Riot Community
An Blitz evacuee–raised until recently by a formidable, slightly-off suffragist–and a small-time con artist team up to cheat and swindle their way through the war until a quest for justice complicates everything. It’s a good pitch; it got me to pick up the book, after all. But if you stop at the summary, you miss the full richness and delight of this lovely title: the characters are charmingly uncharming, the writing is always strong and frequently beautiful, the history is nicely done, and more ...more
Joanne Sheppard
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I finished reading Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans, my first thought was that it reminded me of a cross between Cold Comfort Farm, I Capture The Castle and Goodnight Mr Tom. Those aren't comparisons I would ever make lightly - in fact, it's about as strong an endorsement you could get from me.

As the Second World War breaks out, ten-year-old Noel Bostock lives in London with his adored godmother and guardian Mattie, an ex-suffragette with an entertainingly formidable personality and unconventi
Carla *Jen7waters*

I can't do this. It's so boring... -_-
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Noel, a ten year old boy, has been raised by his eccentric, ex-suffragette godmother Mattie. In addition to his normal schooling, Mattie always took the time to give what she referred to as “proper schooling” which included discussions on the obscure and essay topics that gave you more reasons to think such as “What Is Freedom?” and “All Things are Difficult Before They Are Easy”. Mattie imbued in him her particular understanding of the world causing him to develop the m
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Crooked Heart joins The Book Thief and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe as books whose protagonists are youthful evacuees during WWII trying to find where they fit in with a new "family." Crooked Heart, however, lacks both the charming characters of The Book Thief and the adventure-filled plot of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Noel is already adrift without family ties, when he lands on the doorstep of Vera (Vee) Sedge, a woman with a full house but an empty life. Vee cares for both
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I appreciate the theme of this book. Who benefits from war and can benefiting from war be moral? Most people would first think about major war profiteers; for instance, large companies that make and supply arms, tanks, planes, anything used for fighting. Not Evans. She writes about the minor war profiteers, the small time swindlers trying to make a bit of extra cash. This is an interesting idea but the execution of it in this book just didn't work for me. The characters were well-drawn but they ...more
Aug 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Crooked Heart was well written, witty and endearing. Noel, the orphan-boy in the story, was compellingly strange and unique. Vera, the money-grubbing, bottom  of the barrel scraping, system manipulating thief some how makes you root for her. Perhaps it's because her schemes are hilarious failures. Or maybe it's just because of her heart, and it's surprising enormity. The two of them make for quite the team, needless to say.

So, why the 3 star rating? As much as I enjoyed the characters in this no
Noel is a lonely, rather odd little boy evacuated out of London during World War II and Vee is the anxious, frazzled woman who takes him into her home.

Their friendship doesn't begin well; it reminded me of this from Something Fresh by P.G. Wodehouse, "Each, in fact, was to the other a perpetual freak show, with no charge for admission." Eventually, after Noel proves to be a great help to Vee, things begin to change; "She was used to his conversation now, the long words, the oddity and arrogance
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm definitely not someone who seeks out books that can be described as 'heart-warming,' so I was wary of this book group choice. But it is also very funny, whip-smart clever, direct in exploring how grinding poverty and hunger can affect us, celebratory of suffragettes, and offers lovely and original descriptions. We had an interesting discussion about the moral quandaries and it presents to its characters. I appreciated that these were true to the age, experience and options of each person. It ...more
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As surprising as this sounds, this was a heartwarming tale. I know WWII Historical doesn’t immediately bring up thoughts of humor and a smile on your face as you finish reading, but Crooked Hearts did that. This very unlikely duo has stolen my heart.

Ten year old Noel is being evacuated to a safe place. Due to bomb threats a lack of shelters, like many children, he is taken from the comfort of his home and placed with a foster family in a safe location. Except, Noel didn’t really have a comfortab
Luanne Ollivier
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oh, I'm telling you right up front that Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans is going to be one of my top reads for 2015!

It's the height of WWII and England is on high alert. Ten year old orphan Neil Bostock is evacuated from London. He lands with Vee - a small time con artist with a good heart, but not great luck. Neil is educated, precocious and misses his suffragette Godmother Mattie terribly. Neil and Vee seem like an unlikely pairing. But 'war makes strange bedfellows.' And they might just have wha
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Every so often a book comes along that makes you want to thrust it into people's hands and say "read this - it's wonderful". Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans was published by Doubleday (Transworld) on 6 November for Kindle and in hardback. As a quick look at the Amazon page will tell you, it's already gathered a large number of impressive comments from people who certainly know about these things. Such praise sometimes worries me, and books sometimes just don't live up to expectations - but this one ...more
Suze Lavender
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Noel is a very smart boy who is living in London with his godmother. When she becomes more and more forgetful Noel has to shoulder many responsibilities at a very young age. The German's are bombing London and it looks like the Second World War is going to take a while, so all the children need to be evacuated. At first Noel manages to stay, but then the inevitable happens to his godmother and he has to live somewhere else. His new carers think he will be safer elsewhere. He ends up with Vee, a ...more
Bob Schnell
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Advanced Reading Copy review To be published July 28, 2015

"Crooked Heart" is a dark comedy that could have been more aptly titled "Paper Moon Over England". Vera is a single mother to a layabout adult son and Noel is an orphaned evacuee from London during the Blitz. As individuals they are pretty hopeless, but they make a good team when it comes to running a charity scam. It seems everyone in Great Britain is running some sort of con in this novel and it can get a bit dangerous when one scheme r
When orphaned Noel, a sensitive boy of 10, is evacuated outside London, the only home he is offered is with Vee, a down-on-her luck woman who seeks to make a living through any questionable scheme imaginable. . .
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first novel by Lissa Evans – but it certainly won’t be my last. I recently saw the film Their Finest – (which I loved) but only learned later that it was adapted from a novel by Lissa Evans, who I have followed on social media for a couple of years.

The characterisation in Crooked Heart, is just superb – and it occurred to me while reading how visual this novel is (if that makes sense). The author quite obviously binging her experience of working in film and television to her writing.
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
A completely captivating and utterly charming read. Set amidst the uncertainty and struggle of world war 2 it tells the story of young orphan, Noel an unprepossessing lad who has few friends, sticking out ears and a love of books and an extensive vocabulary which can make him come across as pompous.

Noel has spent his formative years being brought up by his revered Aunt Mattie an opinionated ex suffragette. Watching her slide into senile dementia is a step too far for Noel and he becomes even mor
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are lots of recently published books that are set during World War II, it would be easy to say that the subject has been done to death, and then, just when you don't expect it, you come across a story like Crooked Heart. This is a story that will pull the heartstrings with it's central character of Noel and his temporary mother Vera. Two characters who are original, and quirky and completely fabulous creations. Their story is like no other, it's charming and witty and will make you smile.

Dec 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can definitely tell that Evans is a comedy professional. This book hums with subtle humour on every page. It's really very, very funny a lot of the time, and touching without being sentimental. There are nuggets of joy throughout, in the deftly developed relationship between abandoned Noel and professional failure, Vee. Evans evokes the wartime period very well, especially the confusion and claustrophobia of the air raids. The point of view shifts around between the characters, giving the re ...more
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I just wrote a really carefully developed rave review of this wonderful book and then the computer burped and it disappeared. I am very sad.

However, it is a rare and lovely book: controlled, wry, funny, heart-breaking, and insightful. It's beautifully written--even the cover is gorgeous!--and I want to go buy myself a copy to keep. Evans manages to take us into Vee's and Noel's worlds, and she creates unprepossessing characters who eventually win our hearts. I plan to read her other books, too!
Mij Woodward
What a delight to read.

Every page a feast of comedic characters and situations.

Though flawed, each character makes you want to root for them and their schemes. Noel, Vee, & Don. Mattie and Mrs. Gifford. They are endeared to me.

Some might say the ending is too neat, too easy.

But note to self: do not try to put a realistic sensible ending onto a hilarious plot. Just enjoy the ride.

Oh, along the way, learn some things you have never thought of before, about WWII.

Topnotch. Bravo. Thank you Lissa
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After a brief career in medicine, and an even briefer one in stand-up, Lissa Evans became a comedy producer, first in radio and then in television. Her first novel, Spencer's List, was published in 2002, and since then she has written three more books for adults (two of them longlisted for the Orange/Baileys Prize) and two for children (the first of them shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal). Her tw ...more
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“Hobbies are for people who don’t read books,” 16 likes
“The day after that, all the children disappeared, as if London had shrugged and the small people had fallen off the edge.” 4 likes
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