V for Victory by Lissa Evans appears to be connected to some previous titles by the same author. I hadn’t read those but it didn’t matter to my understanding of this story. The book is set in London during WW2 and particularly focusses on air raids and their effect on the population.
The story follows several main characters. Noel is an orphan who was once taken in by an elderly female academic and is now looked after by Vee, a woman with a colourful past. They run the house that Noel has been left as a boarding house and have a collection of lodgers, each with their own story, who tutor Noel in lieu of rent. Both Noel and Vee are terrified of their informal guardianship arrangements being discovered. The third main character is Winnie who is an air raid warden and who connects with the other characters from time to time.
The book is about belonging and friendship. It emphasises that love is greater than blood ties and shows it by how Vee and Noel care for each other as Noel grows up and explores his identity and Vee starts to consider settling down. The story features things which happened in blackouts and conflict – traffic accidents, accidental death, profiteering, sudden death, extreme tiredness and fleeting relationships. The research is good and you begin to understand what it must have felt like especially in the sections where Winnie is dealing with the aftermath of air raids.
The author ties up all the story strands by the end of the book and gives most of the characters a happy ending – it makes for a satisfying finish. This is quite a short book but there are a lot of interesting themes and ideas within it explored with some sympathetic characters. I enjoyed it.