It was a warm, lazy afternoon at home last Sunday and I took advantage of the day to sprawl on my sofa and finish reading Their Finest by Lissa Evans (first published as Their Finest Hour and a Half).
I started reading the book after seeing the film, also titled Their Finest, a British period comedy-drama about the making of a propaganda film and life on the home front during The Blitz in the Second World War. (I reviewed the film version, justly rated 4 1/2 stars on Rotten Tomatoes, in an earlier blog post.)
Catrin Cole is young, inexperienced, but talented scriptwriter who is seconded to the Ministry of Information to work with Tom Buckley and his crusty, older writing partner, to provide a woman’s perspective on the Ministry’s propaganda films.
Together the writing team produce an outline based on a newspaper report of a brave rescue at Dunkirk. The Ministry decides it’s ideal for lifting the morale of the home front during The Blitz bombings and for potentially kindling American interest in joining the war. Their Finest follows the making of the film, from scriptwriting to production and eventual release.
Book versus Film
While the film departs from the book in several areas (for instance, a couple of central characters in the book were completely missing from the film version!), I enjoyed both. A reluctant actor in the Dunkirk film is Ambrose Hilliard, a star of stage and film in the 1920s, who refuses to believe his stardom has dimmed with the passing of the years.
Superbly played by Bill Nighy in the film, Hilliard’s thoughts and dialogue in the book are full of acerbic wit and had me laughing out loud, all the more so because it was so easy to imagine Bill Nighy delivering them!
Having enjoyed both the film and the book, I posted my thoughts on Twitter and it was a pleasant surprise for the author, Lissa Evans, to respond and thank me for my tweet. I tweeted back, “No, THANK YOU, I loved the film and book. And especially Ambrose Hilliard.” To which she replied, “I have to confess that he’s my favourite character.” It shows!
So if you’d like a good read and a good film, I thoroughly recommend reading and watching OR watching and reading, Their Finest by Lissa Evans.
© 2017 Robert Fairhead
N.B. This post is also published on the Tall And True blog. You might also be interested in reading how tracked down a copy of Their Finest in my local library, in Large Print Editions (January 2018).
Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of a middle-aged dad and dog owner. Among other things, Robert is an editor and writer at Tall And True, an online showcase and forum for writers, readers and publishers. In 2020, he published his first collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story (available from Amazon).