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3.5 4 stars Initial thoughts Interesting to learn about how early propaganda films in England were handled, and while the misogyny and racism of the time was not surprising I liked a couple of the characters, though I found myself very irritated by how things worked out for Ambrose I liked Catrin or however her name was spelled and her unwillingness to lie in her screenplays, and how she learned the ropes. Sometimes you read simply for the joy of being transported to a different time and place in the company of easy to get on with characters If the book is amusing so much the better On this basis Their Finest Hour and a Half ticks all the boxes The insufferably self absorbed actor is a special delight.The writing never over reaches itself and is therefore satisfying and easily digestible a chicken soup of a book.A great holiday read that contains, according to my 92 year old Mum, the most rea Sometimes you read simply for the joy of being transported to a different time and place in the company of easy to get on with characters If the book is amusing so much the better On this basis Their Finest Hour and a Half ticks all the boxes The insufferably self absorbed actor is a special delight.The writing never over reaches itself and is therefore satisfying and easily digestible a chicken soup of a book.A great holiday read that contains, according to my 92 year old Mum, the most realistic description of being in an air raid that she has ever read Dunkirk at the OdeonI so loved Lissa Evans recent novel Crooked Heart, about a precocious boy and crafty woman making common cause in the London Blitz, that I immediately ordered this earlier book, set in the same period Besides, I was tickled by the title and its cheeky rewriting of Churchill s famous phrase about the Battle of Britain heroes Only it is not so cheeky as it sounds, for Evans subject is the making of a patriotic movie about Dunkirk, and ninety minutes in those days was the st Dunkirk at the OdeonI so loved Lissa Evans recent novel Crooked Heart, about a precocious boy and crafty woman making common cause in the London Blitz, that I immediately ordered this earlier book, set in the same period Besides, I was tickled by the title and its cheeky rewriting of Churchill s famous phrase about the Battle of Britain heroes Only it is not so cheeky as it sounds, for Evans subject is the making of a patriotic movie about Dunkirk, and ninety minutes in those days was the standard running time.Evans credits Norman Longmate sHow We Lived Thenfor sparking her interest in the home front in WW2 But she has clearly absorbed a lot of novels, movies, and magazines of the period, for she has got the language and stock types down pat It is the same seam that Kate Atkinson mined in Life After Life, the popular literature of my own childhood Evans has just about as many plot shifts and rapid gear changes as Atkinson, but she uses them for comedy This is, after all, the world of make believe advertising, propaganda, entertainment, what s the difference And just about anyone can come along and stick their oar in So the story of two twin girls who stole their father s boat to assist in the rescue at Dunkirk gets made whether the basic facts are true or not But they have to add a gallant Tommy boyfriend, the rescue of an abandoned French dog, a drunken uncle who nonetheless manages to save the day despite being mortally wounded and, oh yes, at the last minute insistence of the War Office, a handsome American journalist, wished upon the all Brit Dunkirk in the hopes of persuading the United States to enter the war.All this is very funny, actually, and the typed sections of screenplay that pepper the pages look pretty authentic They are the work of a lonely bachelor named Buckley, his colleague Parfitt who supplies the gags, and, increasingly, a twenty year old girl named Catrin just up from Wales who gets recruited to do the women s dialogue, otherwise known as slop Catrin, who has manyresources than first appears, is the nearest thing to a protagonist the book has, and the story is always interesting when she is on screen But she is only one of a large number of characters, among them an aging, enormously conceited, moderately talented and tiresome actor, his hard pressed agent, an unmarried woman who works for Madame Tussaud s and gets roped in to the wardrobe department, and a mild mannered male virgin in his thirties who somehow becomes military adviser on the film Of course the large cast of lovable or at least bizarre comic types is also typical for films of this era, as is the addition of a spoonful or two of pathos and a pinch of tragedy to the general comedy, so Evans is right on the money But I still prefer the tighter focus of herrecent novel 2017 Two movies have recently brought this back into focus One is the blockbuster Dunkirk, a big screen look at the evacuation, technically brilliant, but almost totally lacking the human touches that Evans is right would have been essential to a film at that time I found it dry and emotionally unaffecting The other is the movie adaptation of this novel, called simply Their Finest I liked this eventhan Evans s original It reduced the number of characters and incidents, but made themrealistic, less blatantly comic The result was a finer balance between comedy and drama, still a minor film perhaps, but often quite moving This book is just about perfect expertly written in a style reminiscent of the literary fashions of the 1940s full of wonderful characters that begin as stereotypes and take on flesh in an extraordinary way expertly plotted and paced, with each development and surprise perfectly timed unsentimental yet full of feeling painstakingly researched and on top of all that, it tells an absolutely fascinating story.That story is set in 1940 41 and tells of the making of a British propaganda film ab This book is just about perfect expertly written in a style reminiscent of the literary fashions of the 1940s full of wonderful characters that begin as stereotypes and take on flesh in an extraordinary way expertly plotted and paced, with each development and surprise perfectly timed unsentimental yet full of feeling painstakingly researched and on top of all that, it tells an absolutely fascinating story.That story is set in 1940 41 and tells of the making of a British propaganda film about an incident that allegedly took place during the Allied withdrawal from Dunkirk Three plot lines intertwine The first features a fading former leading man in B grade British films of the 1930s who has not yet realized that his career has tanked he s a typical second rate thespian, all vanity and superficiality and contempt for humanity at large The second follows the career of a plain, shy, lonely seamstress who works in the wardrobe department at Madame Tussauds, the famous London wax museum, and has a tendency to attract German bombs The third storyline centres on a young, pretty Welsh woman, the taken for granted mistress of a famous painter, who quits her copywriter s job at a moribund advertising agency to go and work for the Ministry of Information as a scriptwriter on propaganda films It is her determination to turn the Dunkirk incident into a film that tells the truth about it not the factual truth, which turns out to be somewhat disappointing, but an emotional truth which results in the making of the film on which the plot of the book centres That film, incidentally, is shot on location on a Norfolk beach and in a somewhat dingy studio in South London Each of these plot lines contains a love story, but the point of the story is not the progress of the love affair but the redemption or self realization that results from it Not all of the stories have happy endings.Finally, the book contains two really excellent canine characters who are quite as well rounded and memorable as the human ones No kiddie business here the dogs are dogs, not humans in disguise, but anyone who knows dogs well will be able to vouch for the veracity of the character drawing.All in all, an unqualified success I tend to reserve my five star ratings for world changing or life changing books, but this novel, while it certainly doesn t fall into that category, probably deserves the extra star It really is that good my compliments to the talented and capable Ms Evans 4.5 stars, really good This is a novel about the making of a film in London during the worst of the Blitz, in 1940 41 Bombs are falling almost nightly, and every morning people worry about anyone who s late to work Despite that the book is very funny, as well as being poignant, and the setting feels absolutely vivid.The Ministry of Information has commissioned a movie meant to boost the morale of the British people and to enlist the sympathy of filmgoers in the United States The writers take 4.5 stars, really good This is a novel about the making of a film in London during the worst of the Blitz, in 1940 41 Bombs are falling almost nightly, and every morning people worry about anyone who s late to work Despite that the book is very funny, as well as being poignant, and the setting feels absolutely vivid.The Ministry of Information has commissioned a movie meant to boost the morale of the British people and to enlist the sympathy of filmgoers in the United States The writers take a dubious news article about twin girls rescuing soldiers from Dunkirk and distort the story even further to create their inspiring script Then they re compelled to add an American character, somehow placed on the scene at Dunkirk.A large part of the story is told from the point of view of Ambrose Hilliard, an aging actor from the era of silent films who is vain and snobbish to the point of being delusional He s played in the movie by Bill Nighy He is staunchly resisting the segue from leading man to character actor, but after a blunt speech from his agent he accepts a role in the Dunkirk movie as the drunken uncle with a redeeming death scene I like the way his rather unpleasant character is himself somewhat redeemed, by the end of the book, without him actually changing very much.The story is also told through the eyes of Catrin, a young Welsh woman for whom the war has afforded the amazing opportunity to work as a copywriter, if only for women s dialog and slop Also she can do a bit of tidying in the office The banter among the script writers is hilarious, and so is Catrin s first exposure to filmmaking a nice contrast to Hilliard s jaded view.Then we have lonely Edith, whose job is to maintain the historical costumes at Madame Tussaud s reattaching paste pearls to Ann Boleyn s stomacher When both the museum and her dreary boarding house are bombed, Edith visits family on the coast, where the movie is being filmed, and where she meets Arthur, a lonely lance corporal seconded to the move set as a special military advisor because he was at Dunkirk Well, it was all a bit of a muddle His major contribution is to mention that the actors pristine military uniforms should look well,weathered is what he settles on.I ll warn you that the ending is not entirely happy, although the book is a bit less sad than the movie, because the movie omits one of the happy storylines Gloriously funny and touching in places, it shines a comic light on a little thought about corner of the war effort. SAM CLAFLIN TURN ON YOUR FUCKING LOCATION I WANNA FIGHT Set during the blitz, a screenwriter writes a script for a film about Dunkirk There are many quirky and endearing characters with lots of humor and sadness Outstanding. 3.5 stars.Set in England during World War II, this is a character driven story about the making of a movie under the most stressful of circumstances Writers, actors, directors, crew and their accompanying egos all muddle in together to tell the story of two sisters who took part in the Dunkirk evacuation Equal parts hilarity and pathos ensue.I loved most of the characters, with the exception of Ambrose I spent a good part of the book wishing a bomb would land on him I see what you did there 3.5 stars.Set in England during World War II, this is a character driven story about the making of a movie under the most stressful of circumstances Writers, actors, directors, crew and their accompanying egos all muddle in together to tell the story of two sisters who took part in the Dunkirk evacuation Equal parts hilarity and pathos ensue.I loved most of the characters, with the exception of Ambrose I spent a good part of the book wishing a bomb would land on him I see what you did there Lissa Evans This book is being made into a movie and I can see why Lissa Evans is a talented writer with a special gift for creating memorable characters and evoking an era Although I think that her book Crooked Heart, also set during World War II, is superior to this one, I m looking forward to seeing the movie `E-PUB ⇠ Their Finest Hour and a Half ☘ It sIn a small advertising agency in Soho, London, 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 wordsCatrin 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