What if Britain 'negotiated' peace with Hitler? In this novel; events take place several years after the war ends in ..Show More »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.
Jo Walton's Small Change Trilogy is an absorbing drama which started with a mystery in Book 1, and carries on with a thriller in Ha'Penny, Book 2. In..Show More » this alternate history, it is 1948/9 in London, Britain has been "at peace" since 1941 when the Farthing Set negotiated a peace with Hitler which involved Hitler staying across the Channel and Britain imposing some suppression on "undesirables," meaning Jews, gays and dissidents. By 1948, Hitler is the leader of continental Europe, the war between Germany and Russia continues, and Lindhberg is President of the USA. As a result of the events which take place in Farthing, Book 1, the power elite now control through the Prime Minister, and are gradually taking the country more and more toward Facism.
The only really continuing character in the trilogy is Inspector Carmichael of Scotland Yard, who has been coerced into doing the bidding of the authorities, even when it is against the law and his principles, in order to avoid their publicising the fact that he is gay, thereby ruining his career and possibly putting him in jail. The action in Ha'Penny involves a conspiracy to kill Hitler and the Prime Minister at a performance of Hamlet in London during a state visit of Hitler. The other main character is Viola Lark, who is starring in Hamlet, and is one of a group of six sisters, all named after Shakespeare characters. Among the sisters is a Communist (Cressida, known as Siddie), a Nazi married to Himmler (Celia, known as Pip), and Viola the actress -- very reminiscent of the Mitford sisters. Viola, who is not political, ends up being forced to participate in the plot to kill Hitler with a bomb in the theatre.
The story builds up a great deal of tension and is very engrossing. Jo Walton manages to make her alternate world very believable and horrifying, and the picture she draws of an England where "undesirables" are shipped off to the continent to the concentration camps is chilling.
As with Book 1, this book is narrated by two people, which works very nicely because the book is written with alternate chapters told from the viewpoint of Viola and Carmichael. John Keating is again excellent as Carmichael, and Heather O'Neill is outstanding as Viola.