Finished March 28
Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
Set just before and during World War II, this novel follows two characters, both misfits. Noel is a schoolboy who lives in London with his godmother Mattie. Mattie is quite well off, but also older than Noel's parents were, and she is beginning to suffer from dementia. Noel works hard to assist her in hiding this from her nephew and his wife, who come to visit once a week. But as she gets worse, he begins to worry about her. When other children are evacuated to the countryside, Mattie and Noel hold firm and he stays with her in London, but when something happens to Mattie, Noel is forced to go into evacuation. He is sent to St. Albans, where he is taken in as an evacuee by Vera (Vee) Sedge, a middle-aged woman who lives with her mother and her son Donald. Vee's mother is mute and writes a lot of letters, to friends, family, and public personages, including the prime minister. Donald is a bit lazy, but he also has a bad heart, something that excused him from the draft, but also tires him easily.
Vee works hard, but finds it difficult to keep up with the needs of the household, even with Donald working too. So, taking in Noel is looked at as a way to get a bit of extra cash. Noel, despite what she thought, is a very intelligent boy, having had an unusual education under the tutelage of Mattie. He reads voraciously, and is very observant of the world around him. He knows that he doesn't fit in with his peers, and when he figures out what Vee is up to to get some extra cash, he is quite open to assisting. Vee is surprised at the growing closeness between herself and Noel, accustomed to being taken for granted by her mother and Donald, and not considered as a person unto herself. As the two spend time together, through difficult circumstances, they find a way to move on together despite the difficulties the war brings to them.
An intriguing story of two likeable characters, I really wanted to know what happened to them as the story unfolded.