The backstory: Crooked Heart was longlisted for the 2015 Baileys Prize.
The basics: "When Noel Bostock – aged ten, no family - is evacuated from London to escape the Blitz, he ends up living in St Albans with Vera Sedge - thirty-six and 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. Brought up to share her disdain for authority and eclectic approach to education, he has little in common with other children and even less with Vee."--publisher
My thoughts: Now that I spend almost as much time listening to audiobooks as I do reading print books, I often find myself wondering how much the format impacts my reaction. As I listened to Crooked Heart, I found myself thinking something I can't recall ever thinking while reading: I'd rather watch this story on screen. As in, I would gladly put down this book and watch the film or miniseries version instead. Would I have thought that if I read it? I can't know. Was it the audio production that made this story seem more cinematic than destined for the page? I don't know.
I liked this book. I liked the characters. I liked the story. I was engaged. But I felt like so many of the stories were incredibly visual. I had no trouble picturing it, but I wanted to see it. Perhaps its partially because this novel felt heavy in dialogue. At times, it felt like a script, and my mind kept picturing the Masterpiece adaptation. Reading about Noel and Vee wasn't quite enough for me--I wanted to see them interact with one another.
The verdict: Improbably, Crooked Heart is both wicked and heartwarming. It's humorous and naughty, and even as its characters are up to not good, there's an appropriate lightness. This novel doesn't shy away from the realities of war, but it does find the humor in it.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 8 hours 17 minutes (288 pages)
Publication date: July 28, 2015
Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Crooked Heart from Amazon (Kindle edition.)
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