I loved Lissa Evans's novel Crooked Hearts when I read it a couple of years ago. And I have owned a copy of her earlier, Orange Prize longlisted novel Their Finest Hour and a Half (or, as the book has been retitled here in the US: Their Finest) for even longer. I am not sure why I never got around to reading it since it is a story that is right up my alley, but then you now how it goes. So many books to choose from and nowhere near enough time for them all. But now I have a proper nudge as the film adaptation (you can see the trailer here), which is coming soon to my favorite indie theater.
Actually I have a little less than two weeks to read the book before the movie opens here. I have had it sitting on my reading pile for weeks as I knew the film was coming, but I only discovered this weekend that the movie would indeed be playing locally. Now my copy will be finding its way into my bookbag (so many books scrambling for a spot these days). I have just started reading and I think it is going to be as good as I have been anticipating.
I don't have much to gauge the story by yet, but I can tell you it is 1940 and Catrin Cole, a Welsh woman who followed (and then married an artist from her small village to London) works for a small ad agency (where at the moment she is trying to sell Se-Bee-Fee gravy browning to women who can't even find it on the store shelves at the moment--and even if they could there is no meat with which to prepare it). She gets her 'call-up' papers for an interview at the Ministry of Information where she is going to help script propaganda films. And her path, I am guessing, is soon to cross with that of aging actor Ambrose Hilliard (who is going to star in said films).
Just a random teaser today. She is married to Ellis, an artist. What do you think of their relationship . . .
"And he was an artist, a proper artist, fourteen years older than herself, and he's just come back, injured, from the civil war in Spain, and that evening he met her out of the café and kissed her in a doorway opposite the cinema and until that moment, she'd been hoping that a certificate in shorthand and typing from an evening course in Merthyr might be her ticket out of 12 Bertram Terrace and away from a recently acquired stepmother, who was making it unpleasantly clear that there was room for only one woman in the house. She'd imagined a future in a place as far away as Swansea--a job in a typing pool, perhaps, a bed in a hostel for single girls--but when Ellis had left for London, ten days later, he'd said 'come with me if you want' and she'd done just that, she'd run off with him, and oh, the daring of it."
I do wonder about Ellis. He seems very preoccupied and maybe a little self-absorbed, or at least absorbed in his work and not much attention left over for Catrin. Well, we'll see. I have an idea already formed in my mind now that I have seen the trailer, but I am trying not to assume too much since I know films are a different animal from books. Not all adaptations are completely faithful. In any case the movie looks quite charming and I think the book will be equally as good.