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Their Finest Hour And A Half Hardcover – 26 Feb 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (26 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385614233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385614238
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 3.6 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 210,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"[Lissa Evans] displays a fine eye for detail and for the absurdities involved in filming. She also brilliantly evokes the disruption and dangers of wartime London. This funny, heart-warming and beautifully crafted novel is a must-read" (Daily Mail)

"Beautifully written, minutely observed and researched, evocative and very funny tale" (Michele Hanson Guardian)

"Comic, poignant and altogether delightful, raised spirits are guaranteed" (Easy Living)

"This is a comic novel, but far warmer in tone and broader in scope than that label would suggest...Gloriously observed...Hilliard is a wonderful creation - and Evans's recreated propaganda scripts are a total joy. Delicious" (The Times)

"Pitch-perfect in tone and populated by some unforgettable characters, Lissa Evans's blackly comic new novel is a delight" (The Gloss Magazine)

Review

This funny, heart-warming and beautifully crafted novel is a must-read.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I hated Evans's 'Crooked Heart' but had had this on my shelf for some time, and picked it up last week expecting to skim-read and discard it. Instead, within minutes I found myself engrossed. 'Their Finest Hour and a Half' tells the very well-researched story of a group of people trying to make a patriotic film shortly after the horrors of Dunkirk. Catrin Cole (real name Cath Pugh), who ran away from her native Wales to London with dashing war artist Ellis, is recruited to find a subject for the film and write the script, and finds herself gaining independence of mind and self-confidence as a result, particularly as she develops a friendship with her initially tyrannical boss Buckley. Ageing matinee idol Ambrose Hilliard is outraged to find himself cast as a middle-aged drunken fisherman whose nieces insist he comes with them to save British soldiers at Dunkirk, but with no other jobs he reluctantly agrees to participate, and finds himself having more fun than he ever could have predicted. Edith Beadmore, a spinster bombed out of her home (and the victim of a bomb at her place of work, Madame Tussauds) ends up involved in the film shoot when she goes to stay with a relative in Norfolk - and finds herself in an unexpected romance with quiet, shy Dunkirk survivor Arthur, the films 'military advisor'. Carl Lundbach, an American brought in 'because the Americans want a presence in our British films' struggles to learn to act when he'd really rather be flying planes, but also finds himself rather enjoying the film. As the motley crew develop a sense of camaraderie and fun, the war around them becomes ever more nasty - and will they all survive long enough to see the film completed, when mortality rates are dropping due to German raids?Read more ›
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By D. Harris TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 April 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Finest Hour" follows the making, during the early days of the Second World War, of a film about Dunkirk, intended to lift British spirits (and enthuse American ones). This film is based on a story that never happened (or, at least, is greatly exaggerated) and it is done on a shoestring. The description of the film's production is fascinating (and often funny - for example the way in which the writer is kept in his (or her) place).

Lissa Evans brings together the stories of some of the cast and crew and of the development of the film itself against a background of the London blitz. All the characters are portrayed well, especially Ambrose Hilliard, embittered and fading actor, whose grim memories of the previous war surface at times and, and Catrin Cole, who ends up, more or less by accident, helping to write the film.

The book has funny moments, tender moments and sad moments. It creates an entirely believable atmosphere of wartime London, populated by convincing characters who one sympathises with more and more. It is also something of a page turner. The whole things is cleverly structured as a cinema programme, from the "trailers", though "informational shorts", to the "main feature" and finally, "forthcoming attractions". Overall, it is excellent.
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Format: Hardcover
Endearing, engrossing, excellent, this novel is an easy read, with a feeling of real people during the war, which is just happening around them. You live this period, rather like David Fiddimore's Tuesday's War, and you feel for the 3 main characters, the capable modern woman, the lonely spinster and even the egocentric actor, Ambrose. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked this novel on so many different levels. The description of film-making. The grim portrayal of wartime conditions-the rationing, bombing, officialdom. The witty dialogue, especially between the three scriptwriters. And a whole cast of memorable characters, from the irascible has-been actor, Ambrose, the cynical writer, Buckley, the assistant director who could make his dog perform by hand-signals, to the the dull, but very likeable Arthur and his bride Edith.
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Format: Paperback
As the Second World War moves from its first period of relative quiet in Britain to the chaos of Dunkirk and the arrival of the blitz, the lives of four ordinary people are turned around.
Catrin finds herself moved from writing advertising copy to working on propaganda films. Wrapped up in her first love affair, she can’t see that her ‘husband’ is indifferent to whether she is in his life or not. But as she starts to gain confidence in her new career, she also gains insight into her own life….
Ambrose was voted the third most popular British film star in 1924. Unfortunately in his head he hasn’t moved on from those heights and his agent is too good-natured to point out the truth. Luckily his agent has a sister who believes in plain speaking.
Edith is a seamstress at Madame Tussaud’s. In her thirties and somewhat insular she has managed to create an ordered and even beautiful bolt-hole for herself until the bombing raids force her out of her comfort zone.
All three of them are thrown together when they become involved in a film charting the ‘heroic’ rescue by twin sisters of soldiers from the Dunkirk beaches. And in the process they encounter shy, awkward, Arthur – a former catering manager who has now been elevated to ‘Special Military Adviser’ on the film – for no better reason than he happens to be in uniform as far as he can see.
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