May Selection: Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
Summary: "When Noel Bostock--aged ten, no family--is evacuated from London to escape the Nazi bombardment, he lands in a suburb northwest of the city with Vera Sedge--a 36 year old widow drowning in debts and dependents. Always desperate for money, she's unscrupulous about how she gets it. Noel's mourning his godmother, Mattie, a former suffragette. Wise beyond his years and raised with a disdain for authority and an eclectic attitude toward education, he has little in common with other children and even less with the impulsive Vee, who hurtles from one self-made crisis to the next. The war's provided unprecedented opportunities for making money, but what Vee needs--and what she's never had--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 a scheme. Crisscrossing the bombed suburbs of London, Vee starts to turn a profit and Noel begins to regain his interest in life. But there are plenty of other people making money off the war and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn't actually safe at all..."
What to Serve Your Guests:
Beef Wellington: Beef Wellington is a classic London staple. Your guests will love these savory, flaky treats. Check out an easy recipe here.
Fish and Chips: Perhaps the most British food there is! We found you an easy recipe to make this delicious meal here.
Sticky Toffee Pudding: A great London dessert- Sticky toffee pudding consists of moist sponge cake stuffed with raisins or dates drenched in a toffee sauce and served with custard or ice cream. Get the recipe from Food Network here.
1. Probably the best place to start with this book is this: what did you think about the characters? Were your attitudes toward them different at the beginning of the book then they were by the end? If so, how do the characters change from start to finish? Or if the characters don't change, what does?
2. Most novels about World War II and the London Blitz focus on characters' heroism and bravery. What do you think about Evans's approach—honing in on characters who are hardly heroic, who take advantage of the generosity of others in times of crisis? Do desparate circumstances excuse Noel and Vee? Which type of person—the scoundrel or hero—is more prevalent in humanity...or in ourselves?
3. Reviewers are like Polonious in Hamlet, referring to Crooked Heart as comical-tragical, tragical-comical.... What do you think? Is it one...or the other...or both? If both, where does the line between comedy and tragedy fall (or blur)? Point to some areas where the writing is particularly humorous...or to other areas where it's not.
4. Lots of twists and turns in this novel: did you "see it coming"...or where you taken by surprise at the turn of events. Reviewers frequently mention Dickens. Do you see parallels?
5. Satisfying ending...or not?
Questions taken from LitLovers.
The History Girls Interview
Words with Writers Interview
Book Reviews:New York Times Book Review
The Guardian Review
Historical Novel Society Review