'The work of a novelist in her prime' Daily Telegraph
'Wise and witty' Sarah Hughes, Observer
'Essential . . . Evans is a brilliant storyteller' Stylist
What do you do next, after you’ve changed the world?
It is 1928. Matilda Simpkin, rooting through a cupboard, comes across a small wooden club – an old possession of hers, unseen for more than a decade.
Mattie is a woman with a thrilling past and a chafingly uneventful present. During the Women’s Suffrage Campaign she was a militant. Jailed five times, she marched, sang, gave speeches, smashed windows and heckled Winston Churchill, and nothing – nothing – since then has had the same depth, the same excitement.
Now in middle age, she is still looking for a fresh mould into which to pour her energies. Giving the wooden club a thoughtful twirl, she is struck by an idea – but what starts as a brilliantly idealistic plan is derailed by a connection with Mattie’s militant past, one which begins to threaten every principle that she stands for.
Old Baggage is a funny and bittersweet portrait of a woman who has never, never given up the fight.
'Utterly wonderful and intelligent' India Knight, Sunday Times Magazine
'A timely, bittersweet comic novel' Guardian
'This beautifully written story teems with atmosphere and perfect period detail but it’s the brave and brilliant Mattie that makes it unforgettable' Sunday Mirror
'A thoughtful, funny, companionable novel, offering an invigoratingly fresh vantage on a well-trodden period' Patricia Nicol, Sunday Times
'Evans is very funny . . . the Tom Sharpe for the next generation' Sunday Express
Some are born odd, some achieve oddness and some are just in the wrong place at the wrong time…
Netta Lee had always felt like the odd one out growing up. But when, as an adult, she returns to the Midlands to help her family move house, it becomes apparent that perhaps she isn’t the unusual one after all. A brother with a penchant for rubbish collection, a mother who seems to think she’s running the Bolshoi Ballet rather than the local junior dance school and a hoard of questionably competent friends challenge Netta’s ordered world.
Perhaps the life – and the people – she tried so hard to leave behind are not as distant as she thought.
'Bloody funny, bloody moving - bloody buy it!' Meera Syal
Some people live life in the fast lane. Others have stalled and are waiting for assistance on the side of the road, sustained only by the piece of chewing gum they’ve just found in the glove compartment.
Spencer’s ex-lover has died, leaving him a lizard and a list of things to do before the end of the year.
Spencer’s friend Fran shares a house and a mortgage with her brother and his girlfriend, a woman with delicate wrists and a bloated cat.
Fran’s neighbour Iris is slave to the three men in her life: an aging father who likes the phone and two teenage sons who cannot fathom the washing machine.
Maybe it’s not about living life in the fast lane. It’s about learning to live at all.
Spencer’s List is a wonderfully funny tale of life lived on the edge – of reason, of failure and of (just possibly) a brighter future.
Now a major film starring Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin and Bill Nighy.
It's 1940. In a small advertising agency in Soho, Catrin Cole writes snappy lines for Vida Elastic and So-Bee-Fee gravy browning. But the nation is in peril, all skills are transferable and there's a place in the war effort for those who have a knack with words.
Catrin is conscripted into the world of propaganda films. After a short spell promoting the joy of swedes for the Ministry of Food, she finds herself writing dialogue for 'Just an Ordinary Wednesday', a heart-warming but largely fabricated 'true story' about rescue and romance on the beaches of Dunkirk. And as bombs start to fall on London, she discovers that there's just as much drama, comedy and passion behind the scenes as there is in front of the camera . . .
Originally published as Their Finest Hour and a Half
Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, 2015.
When Noel Bostock - aged ten, no family - is evacuated from London to escape the Blitz, he winds up in St Albans with Vera Sedge - thiry-six, drowning in debts. Always desperate for money, she's unscrupulous about how she gets it.
The war's thrown up all manner of new opportunities but what Vee needs is a cool head and the ability to make a plan. On her own, she's a disaster. With Noel, she's a team.
Together they cook up an idea. But there are plenty of other people making money out of the war and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn't actually safe at all . . .
Stuart Horten (ten, but looks younger) is now the owner of a magician's workshop - except that without his Great-Uncle's Last Will and Testament, he can't actually prove it. Which is a problem, since someone else wants it as well; someone who has a lot of money.
The workshop contains seven magnificent stage illusions, but when Stuart starts to investigate them, he discovers that each is the gateway to a magical adventure, with a puzzle to solve, and a clue to extract.
As the clues mount up, the adventures become riskier. Friendship is strained, danger looms, and Stuart has to decide what sort of prize he really, truly wants.
Stuart Horten - ten years old and small for his age - moves to the dreary town of Beeton, far away from all his friends. And then he meets his new next-door neighbours, the unbearable Kingley triplets, and things get even worse.
But in Beeton begins the strangest adventure of Stuart's life as he is swept up in quest to find his great-uncle's lost workshop - a workshop stuffed with trickery and magic. There are clues to follow and puzzles to solve, but what starts as fun ends up as danger, and Stuart begins to realize that he can't finish the task by himself . . .
The first children's novel by Lissa Evans, this is a fast-moving blend of comedy and magic.
In 1940, every draft of every film script had to be approved by the Ministry of Information. Cast and crew were waiting to be called up at any moment, travel was restricted and filming was interrupted by regular bombing raids. And so it is that we find a disparate group of characters whose paths would never have crossed in peacetime: Ambrose Hilliard, a washed up old ham from the golden era of silent movies; Catrin Cole, formerly an advertising copywriter drafted in to 'write women' for the Ministry of Information; Edith Beadmore, a wardrobe assistant at Madame Tussauds; and Arthur Frith, peacetime catering manager turned wartime Special Military Advisor.
This distinct group find themselves thrown together in the wilds of Norfolk to 'do their bit' on the latest propaganda film - a heart-warming tale of derring do, of two sisters who set out in a leaking old wooden boat to rescue the brave men trapped at Dunkirk. All completely fabricated, of course, but what does that matter when the nation's morale is at stake? Newly crowned actor, script-writer, costumier and military attaché must swallow their mutual distaste, ill-will and mistrust and unite for the common good, for King and country, and - in one case - for better or worse...
Lissa Evans has written books for both adults and children, including Their Finest Hour and a Half, longlisted for the Orange Prize, Small Change for Stuart, shortlisted for many awards including the Carnegie Medal and the Costa Book Awards and Crooked Heart, longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.