Over a summers weekend in 1949 -- but not our 1949 -- the upper-crust "Farthing set," the group that overthrew Churchill and negotiated peace with Hitler eight years before, enjoys a country retreat. Lucy is a minor daughter of two politicians in the group; since her marriage to a London Jew, relations have been strained. So she's surprised when she and husband David are invited for the weekend.
Then, overnight, a different member of the set is found murdered, with abundant signs that the killing was ritualistic. As the authorities begin to investigate, it becomes clear to Lucy and David that they were invited in order to pin the murder on David. But whoever devised this conspiracy didn't reckon on the man from Scotland Yard being someone with his own 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.
More than an alternate-history story, more than a drawing-room mystery, Farthing is a compelling story of encroaching darkness and the people who ultimately decide to resist it.
Despite a rather fumbling approach, Walton's sinister political conspiracies pack a considerable wallop.
An excellent example of alternate history that belongs in most sf collections.
The characters are highly plausible, and in every aspect, from the petty snobbery hampering the inspector to the we-don't-do-that-here conclusion, the plot encourages warily reconsidering the daily news.
Starred Review. Stunningly powerful.... 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.
Harry Turtledove Farthing is a quietly convincing horror, a tale of a world that might have been and that we're damned lucky we never really saw. Read it, think about it, and count your blessings.
Ursula K. Le Guin
“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?”
Jo Walton is the author of The King's
Peace (2000), The King's Name
(2001), The Prize in the Game
(2002), Tooth and Claw (2003),
Muses and Lurkers (collection, 2001)
and Farthing. She won the John W.
Campbell Award for Best New Writer in
2002, and the World Fantasy Award for
Tooth and Claw in 2004. Her style is
to take a familiar element and pair it
with the unfamiliar in order to put a
new and interesting spin on things. For
example, in Tooth and Claw she
mixed elements of Anthony Trollope's
Victorian society with dragons to create
a story that Booklist described as "a
little masterpiece of originality".
She describes her latest book,
Farthing as "a cosy mystery with
fascists". When asked whether
Farthing has political relevance she
Imbued with immense imaginative breadth and confidence, Owen Sheers's debut novel unfolds with the pace and intensity of a thriller. A hymn to the glorious landscape of the Welsh border territories and a portrait of a community under siege.
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