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The acidly heartwarming tale of the relationship between a WW2 orphan evacuee and his foster mother set against the backdrop of the Blitz. Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, 2015.

Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, 2015.

When Noel Bostock - aged ten, no family - is evacuated from London to escape the Blitz, he winds up in St Albans with Vera Sedge - thiry-six, drowning in debts. Always desperate for money, she's unscrupulous about how she gets it.

The war's thrown up all manner of new opportunities but what Vee needs is a cool head and the ability to make a plan. On her own, she's a disaster. With Noel, she's a team.

Together they cook up an idea. But there are plenty of other people making money out of the war and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn't actually safe at all . . .


Prepare to be charmed, amused and moved . . . A complete delight

January Book Club Pick, Mail on Sunday

Dazzling...a miniature masterpiece of serio-comic writing...A dark comedy, moving between drollery, pathos, farce and harrowing moments of tragic insight


I loved this book - Lissa Evans is a wonderful writer; Vee and Noel are utter originals, and their journey made me laugh and cry

JoJo Moyes

Wonderfully vivid and eccentric...there's a good dash of sharp comedy to offset the heart-warming stuff

Kate Saunders, The Times

A fabulous novel about the relationship between ten-year-old Noel and his unscrupulous but endearing foster mother, Vee Sedge

January Book Club Pick, Woman & Home

Lissa Evans writes with tremendous wit as well as sensitivity, creating memorable characters with hearts of gold

Daily Express

Unmissable...Why is Lissa Evans not one of our best-known and best-loved authors?...The great joy of Lissa Evans’s writing lies in her spirited, quirky characters and, as befits a former producer of Father Ted and director of Have I Got News For You, a devilish wit

Sunday Express

At Christmas you need a book that's going to make you want to curl up in an armchair while it's raining outside and that book is Crooked Heart. It is funny and warm and so insightful and moving. An instant classic

India Knight, Sainsburys Magazine

Evans has a delightful tone, airy and bouncy, but with a perceptive irony and a spattering of caustic details. It recalls carefully constructed, deceptively light comic novels by the likes of Stella Gibbons and Nancy Mitford...And while the horror of war is tilted at, it's also often a source of laughter in the dark. It's a refreshingly crisp approach that allows moments of genuine pathos to be all the more resonant

Holly Williams, Independent on Sunday

A wonderfully Dickensian novel with satisfying plot twists that invoke the flavour (and scams) of wartime London . . . Evans has created a story both darkly funny and deeply touching, it’s a crooked journey straight to the heart

Judith Newman, New York Times Book Review

A gloriously atmospheric tale of life on the home front among spivs and charlatans

Cathy Renzenbrink, Prima

A joy from start to finish: briskly paced, taut and snappy with humor and, ultimately, sweet

Katherine Powers, Minneapolis Herald Tribune

The best novel I have read in the last five years... I couldn’t love it more

India Knight

Evans, who wrote the equally winning Their Finest Hour and a Half, also set during the war, is carving out a distinctive niche for herself… credible, touching, and funny.

Nick Hornby

As sparky and funny as Cold Comfort Farm and as charming and touching as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, but then every now and again comes the vertiginous feeling of peering into something unutterably, dangerously sad. Everybody, and I mean everybody, is getting this for Christmas.

Louisa Young

Quite wonderful - beautifully written, so authentic too, and evocative of the wartime spirit, moving, funny - just perfect. I don’t usually like novels about the war - the true stories are so good - but this one - and Evelyn Waugh - are way up in a class of their own - superb

Juliet Gardiner

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    January 15, 2016

    Black Swan

    352 pages

    RRP $24.99

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • EBook


    November 6, 2014

    Transworld Digital

    352 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

Also by Lissa Evans

UNTITLED by Lissa Evans
Big Change for Stuart
Small Change for Stuart
Their Finest
Their Finest Hour and a Half


The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Handmaid's Tale
To Kill A Mockingbird
The Award
Tiger Men
Beauty in Thorns
Echo Burning
A Gentleman in Moscow
The Girl on the Train
The Heart's Invisible Furies
The Drover's Wife
The Golden House
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
The Golden Age
Swing Time
Life After Life
The Tea Gardens
A Long Way from Home