February Tea and a Book: V for Victory, by Lissa Evans

Feb 20, 2024 |

Last month I shared a Persephone novel — Young Anne (1927), by Dorothy Whipple. This month’s featured contemporary novel is V for Victory (2021), by Lissa Evans.

This novel is a sequel to Evans’ Crooked Heart (2014) and shares backstory with Old Baggage (2018). In the image above you’ll see all three novels that deal with Vera (Vee) Sedge and young Noel Bostock. It’s not absolutely necessary to read the earlier books to enjoy this one, but the three books together in order of publication make for a lovely story arc. 

V for Victory‘s official blurb:

It’s late 1944. Hitler’s rockets are slamming down on London with vicious regularity and it’s the coldest winter in memory; Allied victory may be on its way, but it’s bloody well dragging its feet.

In a large house next to Hampstead Heath, Vee Sedge is just about scraping by, with a herd of lodgers to feed, and her young charge Noel (almost fifteen) to clothe and educate. When Vee witnesses a fatal road accident, however, and finds herself in court, she makes a new acquaintance and the repercussions are both unexpectedly marvellous and potentially disastrous – disastrous because Vee is not actually the person she’s pretending to be, and neither is Noel, and both are in danger of discovery.

This story abounds with authentic characters, and I so enjoyed how Evans injects humor and warmth into their experiences of “keeping on” as the war winds down. Most of the characters have grown somewhat numb to fear and privation, and are simply hoping to regain some portion of pre-war normalcy. Other characters are up to no good, and it is a bit stressful to follow Vee and Noel as they find themselves drawn to shady personalities. There are missteps along the way for each of them, but one never doubts their fierce affection for each other. I really love these two characters and would be delighted to read more stories about them.

My favorite scenes from the book are the quiet and affectionate moments, like this little revelation Vee experiences while watching Noel through the window:

She’d been noticing lately that girls liked Noel — and not just girls; grown women went out of their way to talk to him, and she thought it was maybe because when he wasn’t sounding like a junior member of the Brains Trust, he actually listened to people; he wasn’t just waiting to tip in his own comments, like someone off-loading gravel. Or maybe it was because he had a way of making them laugh. It certainly wasn’t his looks, God bless him. (19-20)

For tea I offer a gluten-free raspberry fig bar from Nature’s Bakery along with a cup of Palace Breakfast from Tea Palace:

Award winning Palace Breakfast Tea is an energising, full-bodied, aromatic black tea, perfect for the first cup of the day. We create our blend from just two luxury, single origin teas from the oldest and best tea gardens in Assam and Ceylon.

Other bits and bobs:

*How could I NOT share a link to this video about tea during the war

**Also, I highly recommend another wartime novel by Evans entitled Their Finest Hour and a Half, which was adapted to film as Their Finest, starring Gemma Arterton, Sam Clafin, and Bill Nighy. Excellent stuff!

***Stay tuned for another Persephone book in March. I absolutely adored this next offering, and you are in for a treat! 

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