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.
What if: listen to more in the Small Change trilogy.
©2006 Jo Walton (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"If Le Carré scares you, try Jo Walton. Of course her brilliant story of a democracy selling itself out to fascism sixty years ago is just a mystery, just a thriller, just a fantasy--of course we know nothing like that could happen now. Don't we?" (Ursula K. Le Guin)
"Walton crosses genres without missing a beat with this stunningly powerful alternative history…. while the whodunit plot is compelling, it's the convincing portrait of a country's incremental slide into fascism that makes this novel a standout. Mainstream readers should be enthralled as well." (Publishers Weekly)
a great yarn
The author's imaginative wielding of the fictitious storyline with the edges of fact.
The place that Britain nearly became.
I've already listened to the second part of the trilogy - it is just as good and I am about to listen to the third one. What a shame it's only a trilogy.
An interesting What if.
What if Britain 'negotiated' peace with Hitler? In this novel; events take place several years after the war ends in Britain; but the battle still rages in Kursk and other regions. This novel is both a mystery and a social commentary. However the social commentary is much more matter of fact than preachy. The author delivers his/her message in a way that doesn't so much beat the reader about the head; but allows one to explore their own response to the message in and ponder how they would react in a similar situation.
Definitely a worth-while read and I'll be reading the other two books in the series soon.
Farthing was intriguing and complex. At times the plot was hard to follow, and there was a long list of characters to keep track of, but the characters were interesting and easy to sympathise with.
I love British murder mysteries, and this one was very satisfying with the additional twist of taking place in an alternate reality.
I did have trouble turning off the i-pod with this one - I listened to it all in three days!
I can't wait to listen to the next two books in the series.
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