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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2013

    I love alternative fiction and Jo Walton has created a believabl

    I love alternative fiction and Jo Walton has created a believable, chilling post-WWII era in this series.

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  • Posted December 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A shade less successful than its predecessor, but still brilliant.

    I loved Farthing, the first book in this series, despite avoiding alternate history and especially anything involving Nazis and WWII like the plague. In this sequel, Jo Walton uses the classic thriller novel as her starting point in continuing to explore her fascist England, and if it isn't quite as successful as Farthing was, it is still compulsively readable and raises questions that will linger long after the book is finished. It can be read as a stand-alone, but reading it first would spoil the events of Farthing, and that would be a terrible shame. (Needless to say, this review will also spoil the events of Farthing, so read no further if you haven't read the first book yet!)

    This book has the same structure as its predecessor, alternating chapters between a tight third-person focused on Inspector Carmichael of Scotland Yard and a new female first-person narrator, also a woman born to the upper classes who has rejected (and been rejected by) her traditional aristocratic family. In this novel, the female narrator is Viola Larkin, who has been estranged from her family since she chose to take up acting as a profession. Carmichael is still reeling from his decision to compromise his ideals of justice to save his comfortable life with his man, Jack, and Viola has just agreed to take on the role of Hamlet in a production that will be attended by Mark Normanby (the new Prime Minister) and Adolf Hitler, who is coming to visit England. Within the first couple chapters, Carmichael is investigating the accidental bombing death of an actress who was also going to be in the production of Hamlet, and Viola has been forced to become a part of the new assassination plot by one of her sisters, a card-carrying Communist.

    This structure works less well in Ha'penny, however, because the two protagonists are far less sympathetic here than the two protagonists were in Farthing, creating emotional distance and lessening the impact of events later in the book. Carmichael has now fallen from grace; he does not deserve the same sympathy he received when he appeared to be the righteous detective on the trail of monsters. And while Lucy Kahn was a little person caught in a trap who had the wit to find a way to escape for herself and the man she loved, Viola has much more power in determining her own destiny and chooses to give that power away by swooning over her terrorist captor. A review I read advanced the notion that she was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, but to the best of my knowledge a person does not develop Stockholm Syndrome after a momentary fright -- and besides, Viola was strongly attracted to Connelly before he ever became her captor.

    The novel also failed a little for me because I simply have no sympathy for terrorists. I reject utterly the notion that the ends can justify the means, so I had no problem rooting for Carmichael to discover the conspiracy and put a stop to it. That sucked some of the tension out of the middle of the novel, where in Farthing the middle section ratcheted up the tension by pitting Lucy against Carmichael when both were clearly on the same side.

    Still, despite those weaknesses, Walton pulled off an ending that had the power to devastate, and the fact that it raises so many questions about power makes this a novel that people should absolutely read and discuss.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    fabulous alternate historical suspense thriller

    In 1941 the Farthing Group negotiated a peace deal with Hitler that gave the Nazis the continent and made Great Britain his ally. Now eight years later, the once proud English democracy is gone replaced by a repressive regime that persecutes minorities and dissidents through violent police state tactics. However an angry underground insurgency has caused problems for the government culminating with a bomb exploding on the streets of London. Scotland Yard Inspector Carmichael, whose investigation into the murder of the Farthing group leader Sir James Thirkie has alienated him with the brass and the politicians, is assigned the lead because he is expendable. Pressure mounts once again for him to fix blame on some scapegoat person preferably a homosexual or a group like the Jews rather than find the truth. However as he did in the FARTHING affaire, he keeps digging. What he finds makes no sense as a vast conspiracy consisting of members of the NRA, the House of Lords, the Communist Party, and a number of other activist groups plot to assassinate the Prime Minister and Hitler with hopes of causing a revolution. --- Whereas FARTHING is a terrific alternate historical police procedural, HA¿PENNY is more of a fabulous alternate historical suspense thriller. Walton¿s world is based on the premises that the British hierarchy ¿exiled¿ Churchill and avoided war with Hitler by appeasing the Nazis. Once again the conspiracy is over the top, but the investigation is clever as loner Carmichael struggles with the directions the clues take him even as his supervisors question his loyalty. These two tales are must reading for the Harry Turtledove fans who will appreciate another well written 1940s spin. --- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2011

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