Lissa Evans

Their Finest

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From the author of the acclaimed Crooked Heart comes another "smart, funny, ingenious, revealing tale of London life during the Second World War" (The Independent)--longlisted for the Orange Prize upon its original publication in England.

It is 1940. France has fallen, and only a narrow strip of sea lies between Great Britain and invasion. The war could go either way and everyone must do their bit. Young copy writer Catrin Cole is drafted into the Ministry of Information to help "write women" into propaganda films--something that the men aren't very good at.

She is quickly seconded to the Ministry's latest endeavor: a heart-warming tale of bravery and rescue at Dunkirk. It's all completely fabricated, of course, but what does that matter when the nation's morale is at stake? Since call-up has stripped the industry of its brightest and best, it is the callow, the jaded and the utterly unsuitable who must make up the numbers: Ambrose Hilliard, third most popular British film-star of 1924; Edith Beadmore, Madame Tussauds wardrobe assistant turned costumier; and Arthur Frith, whose peacetime job as a catering manager has not really prepared him for his sudden, unexpected elevation to Special Military Advisor.

Now in a serious world, in a nation under siege, they must all swallow their mutual distaste, ill-will, and mistrust to unite for the common good, for King and Country, and--in one case--for better or worse....

"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 (London)


Series Title
Stewart Hoag Mysteries
HarperCollins, Harper Perennial
Book Format
Original Languages
Number of Pages
Lissa Evans
Their Finest
Publication Date
February, 2017
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
8.10 x 5.20 x 1.20 Inches

Customer Reviews

Average Rating:(3.3)out of 5 stars
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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Its interesting that ...

It's interesting that the other reviews of Their Finest are in several cases so negative and its ratings are across the board; maybe this book is one of those that people either love or hate.I loved it! I saw the movie, Their Finest, based on the novel, on Saturday and enjoyed it so much that I ordered it right off and started it on Monday. and I enjoyed reading every page. I think the level of writing is superb, one reason the book is even better than the movie. In both cases, the story of propaganda film making in London during the Blitz is a fascinating story of grit, determination, resiliency - so characteristic of the British in wartime. There is a great deal of wonderful dry wit. And then there are all the interesting details of film making, whIch is said to resemble sausage making. The book and the movie have slightly different endings. The book follows the stories of several of the people working on the movie whereas the film concentrates on Catrin Coles and Buckley, the screenplay writers, and of Ambrose Hilliard, the dour but talented aging actor. Just a delightful book, and one I would recommend heartily for book clubs - much to discuss here. WWII, Dunkirk, writing about real events for propaganda or entertainment, truth and fiction, women's role in virtually any workplace in the 1940's and now, the characters, the characters' various trials and romances and more. I loved all the characters and their interactions, and found them to be very believable and excellent company. It is interesting that the original title of the novel is Their Finest Hour and a Half, which was changed to match the movie title, Their Finest. I prefer the original title.

Average Rating:(3.0)out of 5 stars

During the war an asso...

During the war an assortment of characters come together to make an uplifting film about a Dunkirk rescue. Lots of home front detail, and amusing characterisation of Ambrose, an egocentric ageing leading-man in this gentle novel.

Average Rating:(2.0)out of 5 stars

It is London in 1940, ...

It is London in 1940, and the Ministry of Information is churning out films to improve morale. Catrin Cole, writer, followed her lover to London from South Wales. Ambrose Hilliard is the character actor dreaming of the lead roles he played twenty years earlier. Arthur Frith is the military advisor who can't quite shake his memories of Dunkirk. Edith sews buttons on costumes. Cerberus the dog doesn't like water. The American can't act. One of the other writers has oily hair. Therein lies my main problem with this book. There are a lot of characters, and at one point or another, they're all doing something that is of central importance to the plot. Sadly, they are all forgettable characters, insipid and something short of endearing. There were brief glimpses of humanity in each of them, but they all eventually retreat into dull wartime wallpaper. I kept getting characters mixed up in my mind, and I really struggled to imagine any of them as real people. Don't be fooled into thinking that this is a story about London during the Blitz. This is principally a story about these somewhat two-dimensional characters, and their experience of making what is supposed to be a heroic film whilst some beastly Jerries are outside, making a frightful racket and keeping people awake at night. The war encroaches on their daily lives, with houses bombed out and characters killed off, but there is a peculiar lack of real emotional response to this. Finally, the last hundred pages were exceptionally tedious. This felt like a two-hundred-page book that had been stretched out to fill four hundred. Disappointing.

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