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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Twists and turns galore
I'm a huge fan of Nicola Upson's Josephine Tey mysteries and wasn't disappointed by this, the third in the series. It is cleverly written, with a very real sense of time and place, and believable characters. The plot itself is intriguing and there were one or two surprises. I wasn't as keen on the romantic sub-plot (hence 4 stars instead of 5) as it didn't strike me as...
Published on 6 July 2011 by Ms. L. Richardson

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars INTERESTING EXECUTION
If you are a reader who enjoys intricate plotting, brutal murders, baby farming, turn of the century English women's prisons, death by suicide, execution by hanging not to mention a little lesbian action thrown in for good measure, then you are sure to embrace the latest in the Josephine Tey mystery series, TWO FOR SORROW. Nicola Upson has managed to capture the readers...
Published on 12 Oct. 2012 by Red Rock Bookworm


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Twists and turns galore, 6 July 2011
By 
This review is from: Two For Sorrow (Josephine Tey) (Paperback)
I'm a huge fan of Nicola Upson's Josephine Tey mysteries and wasn't disappointed by this, the third in the series. It is cleverly written, with a very real sense of time and place, and believable characters. The plot itself is intriguing and there were one or two surprises. I wasn't as keen on the romantic sub-plot (hence 4 stars instead of 5) as it didn't strike me as quite so believable, but it didn't really affect my overall enjoyment of the book. I'll definitely be reading book 4.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars INTERESTING EXECUTION, 12 Oct. 2012
By 
Red Rock Bookworm (St. George Utah USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Two For Sorrow (Josephine Tey) (Paperback)
If you are a reader who enjoys intricate plotting, brutal murders, baby farming, turn of the century English women's prisons, death by suicide, execution by hanging not to mention a little lesbian action thrown in for good measure, then you are sure to embrace the latest in the Josephine Tey mystery series, TWO FOR SORROW. Nicola Upson has managed to capture the readers attention as she artfully leads them through all of the above referenced experiences in this whodunit of intertwined stories whose twists and turns lead to several surprising discoveries, not the least of which is the who, what, where, when and why of the culprits identity.

Relying on the 1903 executions of Amelia Sachs and Annie Walters as her foundation, Ms. Upson has created, via her protagonist Josephine, a fascinating back story for these two women and has cleverly blended their story with two other events in Josephine's life to provide the reader with a satisfying reading experience.

While I enjoyed Ms. Upson's intricately plotted narrative and the attention paid to the historically accurate aspects of this chronicle, I will admit I was a bit put off by the detour the story took with the insertion of the Josephine/Marta lesbian encounter. Its unnatural placement in the story really seems to have nothing to do with the mystery other than to possibly tap into the reader's prurient curiosity or possibly to establish Josephine as a person less self possessed than she appears to be and in reality just a staid woman unwilling or unable to deviate from the entrenched routines that constitute her life.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. I would recommend that in order to better understand the relationships between many of the characters in this story, it would definitely be beneficial to read Upson's AN EXPERT IN MURDER before embarking on TWO FOR SORROW.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent book in this promising series ..., 17 July 2010
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This review is from: Two For Sorrow (Paperback)
In this, Upson's third in her "Josephine Tey" series, Josephine's interest in a historical crime intersects with a truly horrific murder of a beautiful young ex-con who is going straight as a seamstress in the Motleys' charming theatrical/fashion studio. Also involved is one of the first "professional women's clubs" - which is of course where Josephine hangs out for peace and quiet in London. On the purely conventional crime level Upson weaves together scenes from the book which Josephine is writing, and the progress of the case, dropping excellent clues in true Golden Age fashion. At one point I thought I was going to be disappointed, but a final twist (such as the Motleys would use in giving a dress the perfect line and lie!) proved she had caught me napping, and provided a throughly satisfactory solution to the mystery.
But there is rather more than this accomplished Golden Age mystery to her work. Having not at all enjoyed David Roberts' attempts to provide us with new Golden Age detective material I was very sceptical about Nicola Upson's books - but having finally succumbed to them, I am delighted with what appears to be a fascinating series in the making. What seems to me particularly fine is the synthesis of Golden Age and modern styles - some reviewers have cavilled at this (not least in her frankness about the protagonists' love lives - which Tey herself would have hinted at and Sayers cloaked under layers of classical allusions) but I find it a very successful approach - one feels (since one knows for a fact that many of them did not lead conventional lives) as if one were reading what a Golden Age novelist might have said, were it not for the hovering blue pencil of her editor! Other interesting features of this modern/Golden Age combination are the establishment of sympathy with a character before killing him/her (modern!) combined with rather outre killings (GA) and considerable detail of circumstances/nastiness of death/scene (modern). Also worthy of note is the excellent research which seems to lie behind each book - here in addition to the delicious theatrical milieu of Gielgud/Olivier/Coward (the last of whom unusually appears under his own name) the Cowdray club and its atmosphere are fascinatingly evoked - and one gets a sense of greater sisterly solidarity amongst professional women in that era than one ever finds now that the battle for equality is supposedly won.
But possibly the refinement for which I have the most admiration is the exploration of Tey herself, and the fleshing out of her characters which one sees through the books. I always felt that Grant was really someone Tey knew and loved - and the development of Archie Penrose as the inspriation for the character (despite their considerable differences) is a theme which I find very satisfying. Likewise the sidelights on the development of the books and the other recurring characters (eg. Marta Hallard). Interestingly in this book Upson asks us, via Josephine, if what she is doing in recreating Tey and her world is right or wrong when she meditates on the appropriateness of novelising her historical crime when, she admits, she can't know what the women involved were really like. While the answer for Josephine on her facts may be no, I think that the answer for Upson and this series is emphaticaly: Yes. Keep them coming please - I look forward to the next already!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars could do better, 31 Oct. 2013
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In many ways this book resembles the definition of warfare, that is 'long periods of bordom interspaced with explosive action.

The habit of giving back story by one paragraph per character one after the other is one that Ms Upson should try to break.

Also as she says herself at one point the using of real recent people and manipulating them into a story is wrong. I know the Pierpoint family and any further comment there will be made to Ms Upson directly.

Poor historical research and no understanding of either monetary values of the period or of vocabulary.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good, light read, 17 Oct. 2013
By 
J. Scott-mandeville "jackie veronica" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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I am reading the Nicola Upson books out of a long-term loyalty to Josephine Tey, whose novels I enjoyed so much as a teenager and re-read as an adult. I am finding these reincarnations of Josephine Tey enjoyable, if a little contrived, but the books stand alone as light crime investigations and though Archie Penrose, the detective in Upson's books supposedly on whom Tey based her own detective, Alan Grant, is not a patch on Grant, the double fictions are cleverly played out and I find myself fascinated by Upson's ability to create fictional characters out of a web of imagined versions of people who really existed. It is quite a feat and though I feel the stories don't always work perfectly, the crimes are ingenious and interesting and the setting of the world of theatre holds its own drama. Upson keeps the reader involved and the novels can be enjoyed whether one is familiar with Tey and her work or not.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars diminishing returns, 23 Aug. 2010
By 
Lordy (Lancashire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Two For Sorrow (Paperback)
I have to say I was not quite as enamoured with this book as bookelephant. for very much the same reasons that he/she found the book interesting/enjoyable, I found it a little heavy going. I really wanted the author to get on with the story rather than use it quite so extensively as a vehical to explore the conditions of women prisoners in the early 20th century, attitudes towards women and careers, same sex relationships, class etc. sometimes the story of the murder seemed to be of secondary importance to the exploration of these issues. I also found the "modern" elements occasionally jarring with the golden age aesthetic, for example the swearing. I also feel that with each of the novels in this series the voice of Josephine Tey as a character is diminishing or becoming less distinct or interesting and has been replaced with the authors.

okay thats the negative stuff. I still enjoyed the book. I like the golden age stuff. I like the fact that Noel Coward can waft across the pages and that it can reference Brief Encounter to reflect one of the plot strands. I like the theatricality of the Motley Sisters and their social circle. I like the continuity of so many familiar characters and the odd running gag (poor Hephesbar). I want more of that. I thought there was an interesting twist that like the other reviewer I didn't see coming. I also wanted to know how the various plots would be resolved. so yeah, i enjoyed the book, but not as much as I would have done if the book had had a bit more rigorous editing. but hey, its my opinion and clearly other people love it as it is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent intelligent crime, 19 July 2013
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Very good, slightly downbeat and stylistically clever - it mixes elements of classic "golden age" crime with a much more contemporary look at the victims and perpetrators. In this instance as well there was a lot of interesting detail on women & imprisonment and the grim conditions in prisons and the issues the use of the death penalty. These books are always well grounded in fact, the blending of fictional & semi-fictional characters around the factual character of Josephine Tey works well. In particular the beautiful diary / love letter sent by Marta to Josephine is actually an existent document sent to Tey by the actress Marda Vanne.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars chilling from beginning to end and will haunt you long after you have read it. Review by Angela Singer., 31 Oct. 2010
By 
B. DONNELLY (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Two For Sorrow (Paperback)
Two for Sorrow by Nicola Upson, published by Faber and Faber. Review by Angela Singer.

This book is chilling from beginning to end and will haunt you long after you have read it. The opening chapter, one of the most powerful in the English language describes the day that a woman is hanged.

She is a despicable creature, a "baby farmer" who murdered the little ones in her charge, having taken money from newly delivered mothers assuring them that the child would be placed for adoption. She can walk cold-bloodedly carrying a dead baby along the streets of London . She can sit in a cafe, drinking unperturbed with the dead child on her lap - yet even that does not ameliorate the horror of the hanging, the state deliberately destroying a life - even that life.

Nicola Upson's third detective novel has her heroine, the real-life author and dramatist Josephine Tey, writing a novel about the Finchley baby farmers, Amelia Sach and Annie Walters, who were hanged at Holloway Prison on February 3, 1903. As Josephine researches this book, other murders happen around her, of young women working in the theatreland of London in the 1920s, where these novels are set.

Josephine and her friend, the dashing Inspector Archie Penrose, Upson's own creation, unravel a connection between the hanged women and the new murders a generation later. Upson, with her compelling and delicate writing style, layered onto meticulous research of the history and the period - she actually trod in the footsteps of the hanged women - creates for her readers a doorway into a lost world.

Extraordinary as the events in this book are, they are told with such detail that they are absolutely credible. The book holds your attention to the end and never fails to surprise.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 27 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Two For Sorrow (Josephine Tey) (Paperback)
I picked this up because I love Josephine Tey's books, especially Daughter of Time, which is still a good read with an original spin on Richard III. But this one and other two found disappointing. The books all three in this series do not make their mind up to what kind of thriller/detective books they are. Inspector Grant is a great character and does not need the Josephine Tey in them as she does not add much to the plot or enjoyment of the books. I don't see why she was needed she came over as a cold and detached person even though the writer did try and add some spice to her.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting book, 28 Oct. 2012
By 
Mrs. S. M. Usher (West Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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I heard about Josephine Tey through Slightly Foxed a book review I subscribe to and was delighted to discover I could get the books on kindle. I have now read all the available Nicola Upson books. The stories are well written, with good plots and a surprising modern morality. They are detective stories, but also explore difficult relationships and the aftermath of war. The books are quite short and whilst they can be read in order as they contain an ongoing story, stand up well as single novels.
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Two For Sorrow (Josephine Tey)
Two For Sorrow (Josephine Tey) by Nicola Upson (Paperback - 3 Feb. 2011)
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