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Farthing by Jo Walton
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Farthing (2006)

by Jo Walton

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,112897,432 (3.86)1 / 227
  1. 60
    Fatherland by Robert Harris (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Two alternate wwii mysteries. Walton's is more literary and thematically more complex.
  2. 20
    The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (BeckyJP)
  3. 31
    To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (sturlington)
    sturlington: Both mashups of classic British mysteries and science fiction.
  4. 10
    SS-GB by Len Deighton (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Detectives try to survive in Fascist England
  5. 10
    The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (wisemetis)
  6. 10
    The Yellow Room Conspiracy by Peter Dickinson (Aquila, wandering_star)
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Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
Farthing is an "alternative history" of post WWII Britain in which England and Germany cease hostilities and agree to a "peace with honor" way of resolving the conflict: Hitler keeps the Continent, and Britain keeps Britain--or do they? This Britain is a scary place where Nazi policies are oh-so-gradually taking hold. People are silenced by threats and blackmail, and they are all too willing to make compromises that allow them to keep their secrets while the civil rights of others are whittled away. Basically, Britain undergoes a coup by the people who are willing to compromise with Nazis.

The book resonated with me because of all the rhetoric surrounding our civil rights and the immigration policies in this country. The book reminds us quite clearly that it wasn't Hitler who threw rocks at the shop windows of Jews or who stood by silently while people went into forced labor camps. It was the neighbors of Jews who threw the bricks and stones and who insisted that the camps were just internment camps, not labor camps where the way out was the gas chamber.

It is the first of a trilogy. ( )
  Denise701 | Feb 2, 2016 |
Well-written and enjoyable, but I felt throughout like I was a few steps ahead of both major characters, which dulled the pleasure. The alternate history, though, felt comfortable and lived-in — Walton doesn't push too far with the conceit, which makes many of the details all the more chilling. I'm looking forward to the next two books in the series regardless. ( )
  scarequotes | Jan 23, 2016 |
This reads an awful lot like a classic British House Mystery except for the whole alternate history and political intrigue part of the story, which takes it from good mystery to great commentary on the state of affairs. Setting it in a past that never existed serves to me, anyway, to only heighten the feeling that while partially absurd, these things could happen, that events can be manipulated and what seems to be one way turns out to be another and you never know who is on your side. I will probably read the sequel... ( )
  susan259 | Jan 21, 2016 |
This reads an awful lot like a classic British House Mystery except for the whole alternate history and political intrigue part of the story, which takes it from good mystery to great commentary on the state of affairs. Setting it in a past that never existed serves to me, anyway, to only heighten the feeling that while partially absurd, these things could happen, that events can be manipulated and what seems to be one way turns out to be another and you never know who is on your side. I will probably read the sequel... ( )
  susan259 | Jan 20, 2016 |
This reads an awful lot like a classic British House Mystery except for the whole alternate history and political intrigue part of the story, which takes it from good mystery to great commentary on the state of affairs. Setting it in a past that never existed serves to me, anyway, to only heighten the feeling that while partially absurd, these things could happen, that events can be manipulated and what seems to be one way turns out to be another and you never know who is on your side. I will probably read the sequel... ( )
  susan259 | Jan 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Every farthing of the cost,

All the dreaded cards foretell,

Shall be paid, but from this night,

Not a whisper, not a thought,

Not a kiss nor look be lost.

—W.H. Auden, "Lullaby (Lay Your Sleeping Head, My Love)" (1937)
All the brass instruments and big drums in the world cannot turn "God Save the King" into a good tune, but on the very rare occasions when it is sung in full it does spring to life in the two lines:

Confound their politics,

Frustrate their knavish tricks!
And, in fact, I had always imagined that this second verse is habitually left out because of a vague suspicion on the part of the Tories that these lines refer to themselves.

—George Orwell, "As I Please" (December 31, 1943)
Dedication
This novel is for everyone who has ever studied any monstrosity of history, with the serene satisfaction of being horrified while knowing exactly what was going to happen, rather like studying a dragon anatomised upon a table, and then turning around and finding the dragon's present-day relations standing close by, alive and ready to bite.
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It started when David came in from the lawn absolutely furious.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Makes peace with Hitler, / Andʻs killed,
(but not FOR that.)   Plot. /
Alternate Past.  Flight.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 076535280X, Mass Market Paperback)

One summer weekend in 1949--but not our 1949--the well-connected "Farthing set", a group of upper-crust English families, enjoy a country retreat. Lucy is a minor daughter in one of those families; her parents were both leading figures in the group that overthrew Churchill and negotiated peace with Herr Hitler eight years before.
 
Despite her parents' evident disapproval, Lucy is married--happily--to a London Jew. It was therefore quite a surprise to Lucy when she and her husband David found themselves invited to the retreat. It's even more startling when, on the retreat's first night, a major politician of the Farthing set is found gruesomely murdered, with abundant signs that the killing was ritualistic.
 
It quickly becomes clear to Lucy that she and David were brought to the retreat in order to pin the murder on him. Major political machinations are at stake, including an initiative in Parliament, supported by the Farthing set, to limit the right to vote to university graduates. But whoever's behind the murder, and the frame-up, didn't reckon on the principal investigator from Scotland Yard being a man with very private reasons for sympathizing with outcasts…and looking beyond the obvious.
 
As the trap slowly shuts on Lucy and David, they begin to see a way out--a way fraught with peril in a darkening world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:51 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"One summer weekend in 1949 - but not our 1949 - the well-connected "Farthing set," a group of upper-crust English families, enjoys a country retreat. Lucy is a minor daughter in one of those families; her parents were both leading figures in the group that overthrew Churchill and negotiated peace with Herr Hitler eight years earlier." "Despite her parents' evident disapproval, Lucy is married - happily - to a London Jew. It was therefore quite a surprise to Lucy when she and her husband, David, found themselves invited to the retreat. It's even more startling when, on the retreat's first night, a major politician of the Farthing set is found gruesomely murdered, with abundant signs that the killing was ritualistic." "It quickly becomes clear to Lucy that she and her husband were brought to the retreat in order to pin the murder on David. Major political machinations are at stake, including an initiative in Parliament, supported by the Farthing set, to limit the right to vote to university graduates. But whoever's behind the murder, and the frame-up, didn't reckon on the principal investigator from Scotland Yard being a man with very private reasons for sympathizing with outcasts ... and looking beyond the obvious. As the trap slowly shuts on Lucy and David, they begin to see a way out - a way fraught with peril in a darkening world."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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