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Their Finest: A Novel Paperback – February 14, 2017
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“A wry, semi-sweet tale.” (Washington Post)
“The period details evoking London during the Blitz are masterfully done.” (Library Journal)
“A beautifully written, minutely observed and researched, evocative and very funny tale.” (<i>Guardian</i>, London)
“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.” (Times (London))
“I try not to say, ‘If there’s one novel you should read this summer..’ but Crooked Heart tempts me to say it.” (Scott Simon, NPR, on Crooked Heart)
“Glorious. I loved every line of this book.” (Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, on Crooked Heart)
“In ‘Crooked Heart,’ Lissa Evans’s absorbing and atmospheric comic novel, another quietly heroic orphan joins the canon….This is a wonderfully old-fashioned Dickensian novel, with satisfying plot twists….Both darkly funny and deeply touching….It’s a crooked journey, straight to the heart.” (New York Times Book Review on Crooked Heart)
“Beautifully written, minutely observed and researched, evocative and very funny tale.” (Guardian (London))
“[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 (London))
From the Back Cover
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE Starring Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, and Bill Nighy
It is 1940. France has fallen, and only a narrow strip of sea lies between Great Britain and invasion. The war could go either way, and everyone must do their bit. Copywriter Catrin Cole is drafted into the Ministry of Information to help “write women” into propaganda films—something the men aren’t very good at.
She is quickly seconded to the Ministry’s latest endeavor: a heartwarming tale of plucky sisters who help rescue British soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk. It’s all completely fabricated, of course, but what does that matter when the nation’s morale is at stake? Since call-up has stripped the industry of its brightest and best, it is the callow, the jaded, and the utterly unsuitable who make up the numbers. In a nation under siege, they must all swallow their mutual distaste, ill will, and mistrust to unite for the common good, for King and Country, and—in one case—for better or worse. . . .
Top customer reviews
Evans credits Norman Longmate's HOW WE LIVED THEN for sparking her interest in the home front in WW2. But she has clearly absorbed a lot of novels, movies, and magazines of the period, for she has got the language and stock types down pat. It is the same seam that Kate Atkinson mined in LIFE AFTER LIFE, the popular literature of my own childhood. Evans has just about as many plot shifts and rapid gear changes as Atkinson, but she uses them for comedy. This is, after all, the world of make-believe: advertising, propaganda, entertainment, what's the difference? And just about anyone can come along and stick their oar in. So the story of two twin girls who stole their father's boat to assist in the rescue at Dunkirk gets made whether the basic facts are true or not. But they have to add a gallant Tommy boyfriend, the rescue of an abandoned French dog, a drunken uncle who nonetheless manages to save the day despite being mortally wounded -- and, oh yes, at the last-minute insistence of the War Office, a handsome American journalist, wished upon the all-Brit Dunkirk in the hopes of persuading the United States to enter the war.
All this is very funny, actually, and the typed sections of screenplay that pepper the pages look pretty authentic. They are the work of a lonely bachelor named Buckley, his colleague Parfitt who supplies the gags, and, increasingly, a twenty-year old girl named Catrin just up from Wales who gets recruited to do the women's dialogue, otherwise known as "slop." Catrin, who has many more resources than first appear, is the nearest thing to a protagonist the book has, and the story is always interesting when she is on screen. But she is only one of a large number of characters, among them an "aging, enormously conceited, moderately talented" (and tiresome) actor, his hard-pressed agent, an unmarried woman who works for Madame Tussaud's and gets roped in to the wardrobe department, and a mild-mannered male virgin in his thirties who somehow becomes military adviser on the film. Of course the large cast of lovable or at least bizarre comic types is also typical for films of this era, as is the addition of a spoonful or two of pathos and a pinch of tragedy to the general comedy, so Evans is right on the money. But I still prefer the tighter focus of her more recent novel.