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, who hurtles impulsively from one self-made crisis to the next. The war's thrown up new 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 an idea. Criss-crossing the bombed suburbs of London, Vee starts to make a profit and Noel begins to regain his interest in life. But there are plenty of other people making money out of the war and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn't actually safe at all.
The acidly heartwarming tale of the relationship between a WW2 orphan evacuee and his foster mother set against the backdrop of the Blitz.
"Wonderfully vivid and eccentric...there's a good dash of sharp comedy to offset the heart-warming stuff" -- Kate Saunders The Times "Unmissable...Why is Lissa Evans not one of our best-known and best-loved authors?...The great joy of Lissa Evans's writing lies in her spirited, quirky characters and, as befits a former producer of Father Ted and director of Have I Got News For You, a devilish wit" Sunday Express "The best novel I have read in the last five years... I couldn't love it more" India Knight "Evans, who wrote the equally winning Their Finest Hour and a Half, also set during the war, is carving out a distinctive niche for herself... credible, touching, and funny." Nick Hornby "As sparky and funny as Cold Comfort Farm and as charming and touching as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, but then every now and again comes the vertiginous feeling of peering into something unutterably, dangerously sad. Everybody, and I mean everybody, is getting this for Christmas." Louisa Young