Hobbies are for people who don't read books.
Noel Bostock had me on the second page with this gem: "Hobbies are for people who don't read books." Hear, hear! I suppose it's really his late godmother, Mattie, who had me—it was her saying, after all. She's brimming with nuggets of wisdom: "What is the one thing that is more important than money? Taste." Which calls to mind my mantra, via Dorothy Parker, "I've never been a millionaire, but I just know I'd be darling at it."
But enough about how darling I'd be. Back to Crooked Heart.
Desperate times call for desperate measures...and unlikely allies. You won't find two unlikelier than Noel Bostock and Vera Sedge. You will, however, find yourself rooting for them.
Noel, a ten year old evacuee during the London Blitz, finds himself housed with Vera, or Vee, a thirty-six-year-old widower and small-time con artist, drowning in debt and disappointment. Having spent years scraping by, caring for her mute mother and selfish son, Vee takes Noel in on a whim—hoping to use his limp and perceived daftness to her monetary advantage. For his part, Noel, who prefers books to people, has lost all interest in a world no longer inhabited by his godmother, the only family he's ever known. Roaming the bombed suburbs of London, cooking up schemes to make money off the giving hearts of others, Vee and Noel forge a hope-saving kinship—reminding us of the sage words of Sartre: "Home is other people."
Evans's tale is a black comedy set in a war-ravaged country—as unlikely a combination as Vee and Noel. Fortunately for us, it works as well as they do. I've long been a fan of humor's healing powers.