Sunday, August 23, 2009

Small Change

Farthing is a perfect combination of things for me. By Jo Walton, It's alternate history, wherein Britain made peace with Hitler before the US entered the war, now moved on to 1949, and I've always loved alternate history. It's a murder mystery, which I've been meaning to read more of. The detective, Inspector Carmichael, is gay, which I always like encountering in books because it's interesting to see literature's treatment of it, especially in historical contexts. Plus, it's well written, alternating chapters between Lucy Kahn, who narrates her own story with a very distinct voice, and Inspector Carmichael, whose chapters are always in the third person. The inside of the book jacket makes it sound like the book is solely focused on Lucy and David, so I was pleasantly surprised that every other chapter belongs to Carmichael, since this makes a nice change. Lucy is the daughter of Lord and Lady Eversley, members of the Farthing Set, the political group which negotiated the peace. She has married David Kahn, a Jew, despite her parents' protests, and when her mother insists they come down for the weekend and a murder happens, David becomes a prime suspect.

This is, to put it lightly, a terrifying book. Not terrifying in a suspense horror film way, terrifying in imagining what the world would be like now if history had happened like that. For the same reason it's so worth reading, both because it's a good book and because it's certainly enough to make you thankful.

All things considered it's a good ending, at least in that it's the proper wrap-up to the book and it's not hopeless, though one can't help but wish it ended better. Fortunately the book has two sequels, Ha'penny and Half a Crown, so in that way this is the perfect first book ending. Anyway, no matter how the book ends I liked it very much (and read most of it in one day, always a good sign), and am glad for the recommendation of it.

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