Their Finest Hour and a Half, By Lissa Evans

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The Independent Culture

I defy anyone not to fall for Lissa Evans' smart, funny, ingenious, revealing tale of London life during the Second World War. Catrin is the girlfriend – posing as a wife – of self-centred war artist Ellis Cole, and working as a copywriter at a small advertising agency when the Ministry of Information asks for her help with the scripts for domestic propaganda films (girls working extra hours with a cheer, mums doing exciting things with swedes, and so on). Has-been actor Ambrose Hilliard has been drafted in to star, and lonely spinster seamstress Eleanor Beadmore helps with costumes. All three find that the war changes them and their relationships with those closest to them – with amusing and touching consequences.

Not a word goes spare in this tale, and the dialogue, along with some lovely and morbid little wartime details (somebody's blown-off arm is attached to somebody else's body in the morgue so that a full-bodied corpse can be presented to grieving loved ones), help make it all ring true.

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