A Very Fine Hour and a Half


I was at the cinema at the weekend (yes, yes, it was my second trip to La La Land, but I had to go, you understand – Child One was back briefly from uni for a 21st birthday party and before I knew it I was booking tickets …) and I was pleased as punch to spot a trailer for a book I read recently and absolutely loved. It was Lissa Evans’ novel, Their Finest Hour and a Half.

I’d stumbled on another of her books completely by chance in my local library. I picked it up, mostly, because the cover was pristine. Though I love libraries and would fight to the death to keep them all open, I’m afraid I do rather crassly prefer the obviously new books to the well-thumbed ones (bit too well-thumbed sometimes. A dead moth fell out of my library book this weekend). Although I will read a book that I’m desperate to get my hands on in any old state, if it’s a new author and I’m not quite sure if I’m going to like it or not, I have to admit I would be more tempted to borrow something in good condition. And Lissa Evans’ Crooked Heart was mint.

Well, l loved it – a beautifully constructed tale of wartime compromises, making do and mending not just with things, but with people and with abstract concepts like truth and justice as well. It was a beautifully judged and balanced novel, packed with characters that were recognisable but never became archetypes. The central duo are particularly poignant, and stayed with me for a long time.

After that, I was keen to read anything else that Lissa Evans has to offer, and I wasn’t disappointed by Their Finest Hour and a Half, though I think I loved Crooked Heart more. Their Finest is all about wartime film making and seemed to be crying out for translation to the silver screen – so it was lovely to see that someone else (presumably with bottomless pockets and the health of the British Film Industry at heart) has got the hint and given the book the time, space and money it deserves. They’ve even thrown a great cast, including Bill Nighy, at it. I’m dying to see it. Give it a read if you haven’t already.

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