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Ha'penny (2007)

by Jo Walton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Small Change (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6724223,710 (3.84)102
In 1949, eight years after the "Peace with Honor" was negotiated between Great Britain and Nazi Germany by the Farthing Set, England has completed its slide into fascist dictatorship. Then a bomb explodes in a London suburb. The brilliant but politically compromised Inspector Carmichael of Scotland Yard is assigned the case. What he finds leads him to a conspiracy of peers and communists, of staunch King-and-Country patriots and hardened IRA gunmen, to murder Britain's Prime Minister and his new ally, Adolf Hitler. Against a background of increasing domestic espionage and the suppression of Jews and homosexuals, an ad-hoc band of idealists and conservatives blackmail the one person they need to complete their plot, an actress who lives for her art and holds the key to the Fuhrer's death. From the ha'penny seats in the theatre to the ha'pennys that cover dead men's eyes, the conspiracy and the investigation swirl around one another, spinning beyond anyone's control. In this brilliant companion to "Farthing," Welsh-born World Fantasy Award winner Jo Walton continues her alternate history of an England that could have been, with a novel that is both a critique of the classic detective novels of the thirties and forties, and an allegory of the world we live in today.… (more)
  1. 10
    Blackout by Connie Willis (sturlington)
    sturlington: Both set in World War II-era London, one an alternate history and the other incorporating time travel.
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» See also 102 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
It succeeds as a police procedural, as alternate history and as a work of high order literature. As rising suspense propels the plot forward our protagonist rises to the challenges placed in front of him. You care not only for the characters but also for the implications in our all to real present. And if the human players are not enough, enjoy London as just a real character as Carmichael. Head for the library, or the bookstore, physical or virtual. ( )
  danhammang | Feb 16, 2020 |
For me, an OK but disappointing 2nd book in the Small Change trilogy. As with Farthing, there are two alternating story lines. There's the continuing story of Peter Carmichael, told in the third person, and a new story, about the actress Viola Lark(in), told in the first person. I have four problems with the book. The first is that the first-person story line is nowhere near as engaging as the first book's. I think Walton had a clear and not very flattering picture of Viola in mind, but it's very difficult to convey a character's limitations in the first person without lapsing into parody. As a result, Viola at once early crucial juncture acts in a way I found inexplicable. The second problem for me was that the story is too pre-determined by the conventions of the genre. The third problem is a concluding bit of character retrospection that is way too pat and artificial. The fourth problem is a minor irritation; there must have been 5 different uses of "ha'penny" to motivate the title. One was sufficient.

That said, the Carmichael half of the book is strong. Recommended for anyone who liked Farthing. ( )
  ChrisRiesbeck | Feb 4, 2020 |
It's good! But not as good as Farthing, which has a more cohesive viewpoint. This was just as suspenseful, but it ended too abruptly. I needed a denouement. ( )
  xiaomarlo | Apr 17, 2019 |
Second in the trilogy set in the late 1940s in an England that accepted a 'peace' with Hitler in 1941 and has become very much like Germany.

The ha'penny of the title is in a quote from Shakespeare's play Hamlet, around which the plot revolves. Really quite clever - and frightening. ( )
  ParadisePorch | Jan 15, 2019 |
Wow! Now I must read the third in the series. ( )
  ioplibrarian | Aug 26, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jo Waltonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lachmann, NoraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
s.BENeŇ°Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Folio SF (582)
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Epigraph
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat

Please put a penny in the old man's hat.

If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do,

If you haven't got a ha'penny, then God bless you!

-Traditional British children's rhyme
"When I was a lad," replied the foreman, "young ladies was young ladies. And young gentleman was young gentlemen. If you get my meaning."

"What this country wants" said Padgett "is a 'Itler."

- Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night (1935)
Dedication
This is for Tom Womack, of Winchester, Oxford, and Ploktacon, who has the courage of his convictions.
First words
They don't hang people like me.
Quotations
He had learned from the Farthing Set that you couldn't just change things from the outside, you had to change how people felt. If people stopped being afraid, they'd get rid of the dictators for themselves.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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