Their Finest

Harper. Feb. 2017. 464p. ISBN 9780062414915. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062414946. F
In 1940s Britain, the Ministry of Information is working on a propaganda film very loosely based on the evacuation of Allied troops at Dunkirk. Catrin has been tapped to help write the script, although her critical male coworkers are skeptical. Ambrose, an aging character actor, reluctantly agrees to take on a small role, although he knows he's far too talented for the part. Special Military Advisor Arthur is more interested in getting to know Edith, one of the costumers, than doing his job, but the director isn't really listening to him anyway. A thousand rewrites and reshoots later, will this film ever get off the ground? In her second novel (first published in the UK as Their Finest Hour and a Half), Evans (Crooked Heart) is more focused on exploring her characters than in teasing out the tiny thread of a plot, and only patient readers will enjoy the slow pace. However, the period details evoking London during the Blitz are masterfully done.
VERDICT A motion picture is in the works, and one wonders how much will be changed to accommodate the modern filmgoer. Which is rather ironic, given the novel's subject.

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