> Skip to content

A black comedy about the making of a propaganda film in World War II, perfect for fans of Kate Atkinson

In 1940, every draft of every film script had to be approved by the Ministry of Information. Cast and crew were waiting to be called up at any moment, travel was restricted and filming was interrupted by regular bombing raids. And so it is that we find a disparate group of characters whose paths would never have crossed in peacetime: Ambrose Hilliard, a washed up old ham from the golden era of silent movies; Catrin Cole, formerly an advertising copywriter drafted in to ‘write women’ for the Ministry of Information; Edith Beadmore, a wardrobe assistant at Madame Tussauds; and Arthur Frith, peacetime catering manager turned wartime Special Military Advisor.

This distinct group find themselves thrown together in the wilds of Norfolk to ‘do their bit’ on the latest propaganda film – a heart-warming tale of derring do, of two sisters who set out in a leaking old wooden boat to rescue the brave men trapped at Dunkirk. All completely fabricated, of course, but what does that matter when the nation’s morale is at s

Reviews

[Lissa Evans] displays a fine eye for detail and for the absurdities involved in filming. She also brilliantly evokes the disruption and dangers of wartime London. This funny, heart-warming and beautifully crafted novel is a must-read

Daily Mail

Beautifully written, minutely observed and researched, evocative and very funny tale

Michele Hanson, Guardian

Comic, poignant and altogether delightful, raised spirits are guaranteed

Easy Living

This is a comic novel, but far warmer in tone and broader in scope than that label would suggest...Gloriously observed...Hilliard is a wonderful creation - and Evans's recreated propaganda scripts are a total joy. Delicious

The Times

Pitch-perfect in tone and populated by some unforgettable characters, Lissa Evans's blackly comic new novel is a delight

The Gloss Magazine

Her Orange longlisted novel comes close to Michael Moorcock's Mother London, or even Sara Waters's The Night Watch, in illuminating not just the deprivations, but also the liberations of the war years

Guardian

Her tale of artistes attempting a morale-boosting low-budget British film in 1941 is a joy...Evans knows exactly when to play scenes for their wry comedy and when to play things straight...the austerity of domestic life is beautifully caught...This is the truest and most enjoyable novel about home-front life I've read; it's touching and hilarious

Christopher Fowler, Independent on Sunday

The characters and their dialogue and the author's quiet humour are what make this really sing. It deserves to do really well.

Daily Telegraph

A triumph...A compulsively readable tragi-comedy to savour. *****

Sunday Express

This novel has clever narrative, lively dialogue and lyrical imagery. I loved the author's highly polished prose, whether sparkling with wit or achingly poignant. She creates a magical blend of humour and pathos. I enjoyed every page.

New Books Magazine

This affectionate and brilliantly observed novel has the charm of a black and white movie filtered through the knowing eye of a modern writer, whose sparkling prose is as highly crafted as an ivory carving. Its wry humour is complemented by the genuine drama faced by each of the characters.

You Magazine (Mail on Sunday) Book of the Month

Evans's evocation of Britain at war is richly observed, poignant and very witty. It's a terrific read, packed with memorable characters

Mail on Sunday

I defy anyone not to fall for Lissa Evans' smart, funny, ingenious, revealing tale of London life during the Second World War

Independent on Sunday

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780552774710

    January 15, 2010

    Black Swan

    416 pages

    RRP $28.99

    Online retailers

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

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

Also by Lissa Evans

UNTITLED by Lissa Evans
Crooked Heart
Big Change for Stuart
Small Change for Stuart
Their Finest

Recommendations

Voyager
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 Narrow Road to the Deep North
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
Uncommon Type