Available in Ebook, Audio, Hardback (27 August 2020)
Source: Copy received for review via Netgalley
ABOUT THE BOOK
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.
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invite to take part and to the publisher for the ecopy via Netgalley. I’m delighted to be starting off the tour. The wartime setting and the reputation of the author, made this an invite I couldn’t resist.
The story begins in a bombed out London in 1944. The dreaded V2 rockets are destroying wherever they fall at great speed from the sky, with no warning. Silent killers leaving death and destruction.
Green Shutters in Hampstead is home to Vee Sedge, Noel Bostock, her young charge who is nearly 15 and a few lodgers of various occupations. There is a lot of making do going on, with the lodgers providing some tutoring for Noel in return for a reduction in their rent. Noel doesn’t go to school however he is one of those who have an old head on young shoulders. He has also taken over the responsibility of cooking for them all, something which Vee is happy for him to do!
As far as everybody else is concerned, Vee is known as Mrs Margery Overs. The reasons why, we discover later on. Noel also has a complicated past, some of which it seems was covered in a previous book – this is one time where I wished I had read the others.
ARP Winnie Crowther is a senior warden at Warden’s Post 9 – where she and her colleagues are the ones dealing with the aftermath of the bombings, attempting to locate people, checking damaged buildings and generally directing operations following a bombing hit. She has a POW husband that she barely knows; they were together for such a short period of time that she struggles to remember what he looks like however he constantly writes to her letters full of the minutae of domestic fantasy that they may never get to share. As if that wasn’t enough she has a twin sister who uses her for her own ends.
I hadn’t realised that V for Victory was the third book in a series when I started reading this and although it can be read on its own, personally I would have had more understanding of the characters and their situation if I had read the previous two beforehand. Backstory is given to an extent but there were times when I felt a little left behind with the characters and their history.
Having said that, this was a thoroughly enjoyable story set during the time leading up to the end of the war. There is no one big plotline to follow but lots of smaller strands which show off the excellent characterisations and storytelling, which include Vee witnessing a road accident leading to unexpected friendships and a slightly more sinister occurrence of which I will say no more.
The research with regard to historical detail comes through clearly and the dialogue brings the characters to life; the writing is both poignant and humorous – the latter especially where Vee is involved. She is quite a character and although she has clearly looked after Noel, (although at times it does seem like the other way around!) she doesn’t come over as a natural Mother Earth person. If an opportunity comes her way, she will take it.
Looking through my booklist I see that I do actually have the two previous books, Crooked Heart and Old Baggage. I now have the perfect excuse to catch up and spend more time with Vee and Noel.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.