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Farthing (Small Change Trilogy Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Jo Walton
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

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.

Lucy begins to realize that her Jewish husband is about to be framed for the crime - an outcome that would be convenient for altogether too many of the various political machinations underway in Parliament in the coming week. 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 underdogs - and prone to look beyond the obvious as a result.

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.

Product Description


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)

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. Mainstream readers should be enthralled as well. (Publishers Weekly)

Amazing… One of the most compelling and chilling books of the year (RT Book Reviews)

A subversive, trenchant and simultaneously dark and light piece of speculative fiction. Can I get an amen? …The parallels between her Britain and today’s climate are never didactic and always effective. It’s also a book about husbands and wives, and about class and sex. It is quite an achievement, brothers and sisters. Hallelujah. (Bookslut)

A stiff-upper-lip whodunit boasting political intrigue and uncomfortable truths about anti-Semitism. (Entertainment Weekly)

Walton realizes an all-too-convincing alternate world in which the Third Reich but not its spirit was stopped at the English Channel. 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. (Booklist)

A beautifully-written alternate history thriller by World Fantasy Award-winner Jo Walton, Farthing is a smart, convincing tale of a country’s slide into fascism that’s sure to entertain casual and genre readers alike. (Cinescope)

It really is one of those books that succeeds in almost too many ways to count. It's a great, engaging read, and sharp as a knife. The most meaningful parahistorical novel I've come across in a long time, succinct and rivetingly readable. (Robert Charles Wilson)

Farthing starts out as a cozy period house party mystery, becomes a brilliant alternate history yarn, and at last reveals itself to be a chilling political thriller. It's smart, riveting, and deeply moving. Once you start reading, don't plan to put it down. (Emma Bull)

A wonderful book, simultaneously a gripping mystery and a harrowing cautionary tale. Walton's credible--and entirely convincing--alternative history becomes a terrifying meditation on class, power, and persecution. (Susan Palwick)

Book Description


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 755 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Corsair (24 Dec. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00GHK71NG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #104,522 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Jo Walton writes science fiction and fantasy novels and reads a lot and eats great food. It worries her slightly that this is so exactly what she always wanted to do when she grew up. She comes from Wales, but lives in Montreal.


The King's Peace (Tor 2000)
The King's Name (Tor 2001)
The Prize in the Game (Tor 2002)
Tooth and Claw (Tor 2003, reprinted Orb 2009)
Farthing (Tor 2006)
Ha'Penny (Tor 2007)
Half a Crown (Tor 2008)
Lifelode (NESFA 2009)
Among Others (Tor 2011)

Poetry Collections

Muses and Lurkers (Rune Press 2001)
Sibyls and Spaceships (NESFA 2009)
The River and the Road (forthcoming from Aqueduct in 2013)


Copper Cylinder Award (Among Others 2012)

Hugo: (Among Others 2012)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, 2002

Mythopoeic Award (for Lifelode, 2010)

Nebula Award (for Among Others, 2012)

Prometheus Award (for Ha'Penny) 2008

Robert Holdstock Award (Among Others, 2012)

Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award (for Farthing) 2007
Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award (for Half a Crown) 2009
Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award (for Among Others 2012)

World Fantasy Award (for Tooth and Claw) 2004

Award Nominations

Indie Lit Awards: (Among Others 2012)
John W. Campbell Memorial (Farthing 2007)
Lambda (SF with gay/lesbian issues) (Ha'Penny 2008)
Locus (Farthing 2007, Among Others 2012)
Mythopoeic (Among Others 2012)
Nebula (Farthing 2007)
Prometheus (Libertarian) (Half a Crown 2009)
Quill (Farthing 2007)
Rhysling (SF poetry) (2007: "Candlemass Poem", in Lone Star Stories, Feb 2006)
Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice (Ha'Penny 2008)
Seiun (Best work translated into Japanese) (Farthing, Ha'Penny, Half a Crown 2011)
Sidewise (Alternate History) (Farthing 2007, Ha'Penny 2008, Half a Crown 2009)
Sunburst (Canadian Literature of the Fantastic) (Half a Crown 2009)
Tiptree Honor (Lifelode 2010)
World Fantasy Award (Among Others 2012)

Her livejournal, with wordcount, poetry, recipes and occasional actual journalling, is at: She also blogs about old books at

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Jo Walton's novel opens with a typical mystery - a murder at an English country house - in a most atypical world. It is one in which the British did not defeat the Nazis, but sued for peace on the even of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Eight years after the 'Farthing Peace', the appeasers are celebrated in Britain as having been right, with everyone believing that the war only proved that the nation could stand aloof from the bloodshed on the Continent. Yet events soon prove just how wrong such thinking can be, as a prominent aristocrat is found dead with a yellow Star of David pinned to his chest. As Scotland Yard inspector Peter Carmichael investigates, he encounters a conspiracy that threatens to bring the climate of fear and hate across the Channel.

Walton's book is an enjoyable mixture of two differing genres, which combine to provide a fresh and engaging tale. The world she envisions is a plausible one, with historical detail that indicates a good amount of effort in fleshing out a new chain of events. The plot itself is gripping, with a mystery that does not fully resolve itself until the final pages yet holds the reader's interest throughout. While the ending presages the descent into the grim world of her sequels, Ha'penny and Half A Crown, it offers a very real meditation on the choices people make and the price that they pay for them. It all comes together for a suspenseful tale that appeals to both fans of alternate history and anyone who enjoys a good mystery novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Murder Mystery in Alternate Britain 3 Dec. 2011
By Killie
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The story is set in an alternate Britain, one that had made peace with Nazi Germany in 1941. Now in the late 1940's Britain is enjoying it's peace with Germany and the people who helped create this peace are some of the mover's and shakers of society. However, their position is not absolute as is proven when one of them is found murdered during a party at Farthing Hall on the eve of their attempts to take further control of the governing Conservative Party. Even though the evidence all seems to point at communists and Jews as the culprits, a thoughtful detective from Scotland Yard keeps investigating and uncovers secrets and a conspiracy that lead to the very heart of government.

To be honest, Alternate History books about Nazi Germany are rather common; it probably has to be the greatest "what if" scenario of the twentieth century. A fair number of these books tend to mainly speculate on the big international picture and how it affects everyday people. Farthing however seemed to concentrate on the lives and outcomes for the very people who had actually created the peace with Germany which I found to be rather refreshing.

In addition I found that the Britain she had created was rather realistic and frightening in the way that you could actually understand and see why Britain was heading the way portrayed in the novel. It isn't a Britain any reader will recognise as the class system within Britain has actually been reinforced by the earlier peace. There is no NHS, the rich and the poor are as far apart as always and the government was talking about banning anyone who had not been to private education from going to University.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing take on a murder mystery 28 Jan. 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback
What a great discovery this book is. Let's not worry about what box it needs to fit into - it's a ripping yarn which to me is the best type of book, who cares whether it's a mystery, sci fi or just plain fiction - even my library can't decide where to classify it so why should we worry?!

The plot is essentially - in an alternate history of Britain, which diverged from our own history in 1941, a murder has occurred in a country house and Scotland Yard are sent to investigate. The key difference in history is that a truce has been negotiated with Nazi Germany, ending World War II in 1941. Britain now enjoys good relations with Third Reich and is conveniently turning a blind eye to the disappearances of Jews on the continent.

To start with the difference between the world of Farthing and our own is not apparent. This is a period novel set in a world of aristocracy which most of us know nothing about and initially the historical divergence is disguised by the unfamiliarity of the world of luncheons and riding. But gradually the subtle differences become apparent - the blatant racism towards Jews at first could pass as the prejudices of the aristocracy, but eventually it becomes clear that the shift in temperament is universal and driven from the very top.

As the novel progresses, the tone gradually darkens and Jo Walton does a wonderful job of effecting a seismic shift from tea parties to an insidious foretaste of the novels to come.

I loved the tone in which JW voices the lead character, Lucy, which seems so correct for the period.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Agatha Christie meets House of Cards meets Fatherland
Sir James Thirkie lies dead, a dagger in his chest. Many of those staying at the country house for the weekend party he'd been invited to had cause to want him so. Read more
Published 10 days ago by David Herdson
2.0 out of 5 stars Disliked the entire cast of charterers and could not believe ...
Found it a very disappointing listen. Disliked the entire cast of charterers and could not believe in the setting.
Published 2 months ago by Paul Barrett
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
An interesting and disturbing 'what if the Nazis controlled Europe' novel. Easy to see how the scenarios could have played out. Read more
Published 4 months ago by S. Farnaby
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book sent fast thanks
Published 5 months ago by Lucy Sanders
3.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read....on the whole!
“Farthing” by Jo Walton is the first part of a trilogy set in post war Britain. However, this is not Britain as we know it. Read more
Published 7 months ago by A. E. Thomas
3.0 out of 5 stars Mild intro to the trilogy?
Bit disappointed that there are numerous references, some quite central to the plot, coupling the Farthing with a Robin. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Old Tosh
5.0 out of 5 stars GENRES? WHO NEEDS 'EM?
This is a classic murder mystery, a gripping page turner with great atmosphere, believable characters and superb writing. But it is so much more. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle and sophisticated: a stunner
Farthing takes place in an alternate history, one where Britain made peace with Nazi Germany in 1941 leaving the USSR to fight alone. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Rowena Hoseason
3.0 out of 5 stars Small change
High hopes were not fulfilled. The writing is soapy, the characters cardboard and the story - full of potential - limply realised. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars A Massive Disappointment
This book had rave reviews in The Guardian so I decided to treat myself to a copy. Frankly I wish I hadn't bothered. Read more
Published 13 months ago by C. Wright
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