Small Change : book 1
Eight years after they overthrew Churchill and led Britain into a separate peace with Hitler, the upper-crust families of the “Farthing set” are gathered for a weekend retreat. Among them is estranged Farthing scion Lucy Kahn, who can’t understand why her and her husband David’s presence was so forcefully requested. Then the country-house idyll is interrupted when the eminent Sir James Thirkie is found murdered—with a yellow Star of David pinned to his chest.
Thanks to amazon I can tell you that this book, and the others in the series, have been sitting on my shelves, unread, since Oct 2013. Why it took me so long to get to it I can’t say, because I’ve really enjoyed everything else that I’ve read by Walton. Sometimes physically owning a book means I don’t feel the need to read it straight away, sure it’ll always be there whenever I decide to pick it up, whereas a library book or one borrowed from somebody else, well, I have to give that back so I have to read those instantly.
So maybe there was a bit of that to it, but I recently read The Philosopher Kings, and then Farthing got a mention over on LadyBusiness’ 60 Essential Science Fiction & Fantasy Reads so I picked it up.
And amn’t I glad I did.
It is an alternate history, set in an England that made peace with Hitler and it is just so light and readable and yet dark and troubling at the same time. There are two main narrators, Lucy is the daughter of an aristocratic English family. But she married David Kahn, a Jew, and her family and friends have almost disowned for it. The other narrator is Peter Carmichael, a police officer from a minor landed family. He is investigating the murder of a prominent politician. Lucy’s husband is suspected of being involved.
That’s the plot, but really the book is about how evil creeps in to society. The banality of it, as the phrase goes. The way it spreads and corrupts, and how soon it becomes every day and ordinary.
I think it may be my favourite book by Walton so far. I almost started the second book in the series straight away, but am holding off for a few days to give one time to breath.