Here we are taken back to the wonderful characters of Noel Bostock and Vee Sedge who we first got to know in Crooked Heart. For me you need prior knowledge and background of Noel and Vee and the circumstances that lead them to where they are now.
It is late 1944 – it is clear that war is coming to some sort of conclusion. However there is still the risk of death as the V2 rockets seem to be destroying an uncharted path through London.
Noel and Vee now live in a large house, Green Shutters, adjacent to Hampstead Heath. Vee takes in lodgers to keep roofs over heads and mouths to feed, but she is still not quite telling the truth to the world.
All of the lodgers are of varying occupations and differing personalities, and they are educating in their own way young Noel, now 15 instead of him attending school. But then Noel is also not quite telling the truth to the world either.
Both Noel and Vee are locked into the secrets of their past but it seems that events in the present are going to change everything.
The other strand of the novel is taken over to Winnie Crowther, who is a senior ARP warden. Married but having not seen her husband for the majority of the war, she simply exists until such times when the world will be righted again and she can live her life. Her twin sister, Avril on the other hand is as far removed from Winnie but when she uses Winnie’s life as an idea of a book, little does she realise what work her sister is actually doing until she experiences it for herself.
Winnie does meet Noel, there is a connection to the past, to Matilda Simpkin, the original owner of Green Shutters and Noel’s former godmother. Winnie knew Matilda. Winnie also knew someone else close to Noel and it seems all of these past lives are going to come crashing together in the final pages of the book.
Evans writing is unique and the books is unstructured which adds to it’s flow and narrative. When I found myself in the midst of an incident that ARP Winnie has to deal with, you could almost taste the brick dust. With just as much ease we are sat at the table in Green Shutters as an eclectic mix of people gather to see what food rations and Noel have created for supper.
The stories of Matilda Simpkin, Noel and Vee are brought to a conclusion in this novel and whilst there is enough information to understand all these people without having previously read the other novels. I appeal to any readers sense of completeness and read Old Baggage and Crooked Heart. You can then experience the great writing of Evans but also the wonderful characters for a lot longer.
A book worthy of any fans of historical fiction.
Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
V for Victory is out now.