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Summary

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.

©2006 Jo Walton (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"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)

What listeners say about Farthing

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Clumsy, stereotypical, dreadful narrators

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Nothing...it seems very amateur...poor characterization, anachronistic speech, badly researched, badly read.

Has Farthing put you off other books in this genre?

Only by this author

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of John Keating and Bianca Amato ?

Anyone who naturally spoke British English ...jarring accents, wrong emphasis, words mispronounced...irritating.

What character would you cut from Farthing?

All of them...stereotypes with nothing interesting to offer.

Any additional comments?

Interesting premise but excecuted badly. Pebbles of 'historical' facts dropped in to a puddle of stereotypes. The readers leave a lot to be desired, accents slip, constantly jarring.

1 person found this helpful

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recommended

slow at times, the story as a whole is captivating and thrilling.
difficult to read at times in that horrible way you feel when realising how realistic this alternative history could have been

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Disappointing

An exploration of a possible Britain and wider British Empire that had not been devastated by WWII would be a fascinating subject for an alternate history novel. Sadly this book is not that. It is eye rolling nonsense. Preposterous English aristocrats plot against the Jews in England, whilst they're still being rounded up and gassed by the Nazis in 1949. Not a very good alternate history by any measure. To be fair despite the awful story the readers do a perfectly good job, and can't be faulted. I would not recommend this book to anyone, and certainly won't be wasting a penny on the other books in this series.

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Downton + Christie meet alternate WWII history.

What made the experience of listening to Farthing the most enjoyable?

The dual narrators were both superb! Bianca Amato's ever so, ever so posh reading of the posh country "gal", Lucy, who is in love with the wrong man, is great. I was rooting for Lucy and her decent husband from the start. But its equally matched by John Keating's reading of Inspector Carmichael the intelligent inspector who is sent to solve the murder at the country house Farthing. He's a believable character who is tasked into delving into other people's secrets when he has secret's of his own.

What other book might you compare Farthing to, and why?

The obvious comparisons would be SS-GB by Len Deighton and Dominion by CJ Sansom as both these books are set during WWII but in an alternate time. However these two books deal with a Nazi invasion and this book is set in a world where the 'Farthing Peace" stalled the Nazi's at The English Channel. Please don't be

Which scene did you most enjoy?

There isn't really a stand out scene but its great to see how both narrators begin to piece together the facts together and they realise the daunting truth.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Once again there isn't a particular scene but you can't help be moved by Lucy's love for David. How she chose to leave the stifling world of the upper classes to marry a man that her peers felt was a lesser man for being Jewish. The casual anti semitism and David's stoic refusal to be bowed by it, show him to be a far better person than the blue bloods of the "Farthing" set.

Any additional comments?

Please don't be put off by the term "Alternative History" this book is grounded in a very real and cruel world. If Churchill hadn't decided to carry on the fight in WWII, this could have easily been the course our country's history could have taken. The first part of book could be any closed room murder mystery written in the 20's or 30's its only later in the book that the book begins to resemble a 70's conspiracy thriller. Its excellent please give it a whirl!

1 person found this helpful