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Farthing (Small Change) by Jo Walton
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Farthing (Small Change) (original 2006; edition 2013)

by Jo Walton (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,316988,681 (3.86)1 / 265
Member:Jaylia3
Title:Farthing (Small Change)
Authors:Jo Walton (Author)
Info:Tor Books (2013), Edition: Reprint, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:alternate history, English country house mystery, fiction, series

Work details

Farthing by Jo Walton (2006)

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Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)
I was hooked on this book from the first page, even though I rarely read revisionist history.

Farthing is a murder mystery of sorts set in 1948 England, an England that negotiated peace with Hitler, leaving him all of Europe, and Britain to Britain; an England being run by a small enclave of aristocracy, leaning heavily towards Hitler's view of Jews.

It was fascinating because there seems to have been a very fine line between that being fiction and that being actual history.

I already have the next in the series on my night-table. ( )
  ParadisePorch | Oct 22, 2018 |
Disappointing.

I wanted to admire this book, but the frequent missteps in tone and fact (mainly in the parts dealing with the British upper class) prevented me from paying attention to the plot. The dialogue is consistently off, giving the effect of nails scraping down a blackboard. There is also an inadequate grasp of British society and government, which is not adequately explained by the alternate history setting.

The author seems an intelligent and reasonable person but the mistakes are so jarring that I cannot enjoy this series. Two years after reading this novel it still bothers me. ( )
  hatpin | Jun 17, 2018 |
At first, this seemed like it was going to be a pretty straightforward English manor house mystery, complete with upstairs/downstairs intrigue.

Then, I realized that it was more interesting than that, because the mystery is set in an alternate history where Britain made peace with Hitler and split up France's colonies, and anti-Semitism is a major part of European culture.

Then it gets even more interesting as it explores the rise of fascism.

The book switches first-person points of view between the detective and the wife of the primary suspect. As with any murder mystery, most of the characters are terrible people, but the main characters are very likable and sympathetic. The story is engaging.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

I listened to the audiobook, and the narrators are very good. ( )
  Gwendydd | Jan 9, 2018 |
In 1949 in an alternate England, Hitler is in control of all of western Europe. After the Battle of Britain, Churchill was overthrown and England made peace with Hitler, largely due to the efforts of the “Farthing Set.” Newlywed Lucy is the daughter of prominent members of the Farthing Set. She married her Jewish husband, David, against her parents' wishes. Although England isn't under Hitler's control, antisemitism is on the rise. Lucy and David are surprised to receive an invitation to her parents' weekend house party. Things turn ugly when one of the guests is discovered dead in his room on Sunday morning. When clues turn up pointing to David as the killer, Lucy is certain that he's being framed for murder. So is the Scotland Yard detective assigned to the case. With pressure mounting for David's arrest and quick closure of the investigation, to what length will Lucy go to protect her husband?

In Farthing, Jo Walton gives readers an alternate form of the Golden Age mystery – my favorite genre. I loved the points of similarity, but I found the differences unsettling. I find it satisfying to read about the righting of wrongs and the triumph of justice in Golden Age mysteries. It provides an escape from real life, when all too often crimes go unsolved or the guilty go free on technicalities. In this way the alternate history of Farthing is more like the real world than the world of the Golden Age mystery. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Nov 13, 2017 |
Well I guess I am late to the party on this book. My sister raved about the series years ago and I bought this first book in the series almost 8 years ago. Then it sat on my bookshelf waiting for me to get around to reading it. Now that I've finally read it I am kicking myself for waiting so long. I have the second book and it will be read in short order, I can promise.

The title comes from the Farthing Group, an elite subgroup of the Conservative Party in Great Britain. And the group got its name from the country estate that two of the group's members own. This is not the Great Britain that we know. In the second world war a peace was brokered with the Nazis that left them in control of continental Europe and the British safe from invasion. Lucy is the daughter (and now sole heir since the death of her brother in the war) of the Farthing household but her parents, especially her mother, disapprove of her marriage to a Jew, David Kahn. So she cannot understand why they have been invited to Farthing for a country weekend with the Farthing Group. When prominent politican James Thirkie is found dead in his bed with a yellow star affixed to him David is suspected of the murder and Lucy wonders if that was why they were invited. CI Peter Carmichael of Scotland Yard isn't convinced that David is guilty but he has to put him under house arrest because of circumstantial evidence against him.A few days later he learns who is responsible but he is directed to arrest David by his superiors. David and Lucy have no choice but to flee to Canada.

This is an alternate history that is all too probable especially when one looks at the recent political decisions. ( )
  gypsysmom | Jul 24, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jo Waltonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lachmann, NoraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
s.BENešCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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)

(summary from another edition)

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