It’s late 1944. Hitler’s rockets are slamming down on London with vicious regularity and it’s the coldest winter in living memory. Allied victory is on its way, but it’s bloody well dragging its feet.
In a large house next to Hampstead Heath, Vee Sedge is just about scraping by, with a herd of lodgers to feed, and her young charge Noel ( almost fifteen ) to clothe and educate. When she witnesses a road accident and finds herself in court, the repercussions are both unexpectedly marvellous and potentially disastrous – disastrous because Vee is not actually the person she’s pretending to be, and neither is Noel.
The end of the war won’t just mean peace, but discovery…
V for Victory continues the wartime story of teenager Noel and his unofficial foster mother, Vee, whom I first met in the book The Crooked Heart, now living in a large house by Hampstead Heath. Trying to keep below the radar, in case Noel might be taken into care, they look after a bizarre group of lodgers who partly pay by tutoring the brilliant Noel in their specialist subjects. It is obvious from their accents and Vee’s lack of education that they come from different backgrounds, but they are united by their experiences in an unfriendly world and their ability to avoid being tied down by bureaucracy.
Now in 1944, London has become increasingly dangerous, and we learn of the horrific consequences of the V2 bombs through the experiences of Winnie, a determined, likeable Air Raid Warden. At 15, Noel is growing away from Vee and they both begin to keep secrets. Vee’s social life improves when she meets an American serviceman while Noel discovers more about his early life.
This is a story of humour, pathos and tragedy but it is the rich characters who bring it to life. We care about Winnie, Noel and Vee and the concluding chapter rounds off the story perfectly. I would recommend reading The Crooked Heart first, but V for Victory is the book I like best.
V for Victory on Amazon UK
A brief review of The Crooked Heart
The Crooked Heart is an unusual story of civilian life in World War Two. First we meet Mattie, a former Suffragette now losing her memory as she sinks into dementia. She lives with her godson, 10-year-old Noel, but he is looking after her. Noel is a very intelligent oddball who has learnt how not to be noticed, but when Mattie dies, he is evacuated to St Albans where, by mischance, he ends up with Vee, a poor, downtrodden woman with a dependent, mute mother and a spoilt adult son.
Vee uses Noel, with his agreement, to help her unscrupulous methods of obtaining money to survive. As Vee’s mother writes amusing letters daily to important people in government, Vee and Noel are two misfits who become comrades in an unfriendly world.
Lissa Evans grew up in the West Midlands. She comes from a family of voracious readers and spent most of her adolescence in the local library, thus becoming well read if not wildly popular.
After studying medicine at Newcastle University, she worked as a junior doctor for four years, before deciding to change to a career in which she wasn’t terrified the entire time; a job in BBC Radio light entertainment followed, and then a switch to television, where she produced and directed series including ‘Room 101’ and also ‘Father Ted’, for which she won a BAFTA.
Her first book, ‘Spencer’s List’ was published in 2002, and since then she has written five more novels for adults (one of which, ‘Their Finest Hour and a Half’, was filmed in 2017) and three novels for children. She lives in London with her husband and two daughters. She still reads voraciously. lissaevans.com