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Half a Crown Following the award-winning "Farthing "and its sequel "Ha'penny," the culminating novel in an alternate-world tale of resistance to encroaching Fascism Full description

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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A less than satisfying conclusion to the "Small Change" series 15 janvier 2010
Par MarkK - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Jo Walton's "Small Change" trilogy is a challenging one to classify. Her previous novels in the series, and , easily fit a number of genres - alternate history, murder mystery, suspense novel thriller - without entirely being defined by any one of them. This book, the final novel in her series, is no different. Less a murder mystery than a political thriller, it takes her concept of a Britain descending towards fascism and moves it a decade into the future. By 1960, Britain has been ruled by politician-turned-dictator Mark Normanby for a decade. Jews and other perceived undesirables are frequently rounded up and sent for disposal to the Continent, where the Nazis have triumphed in their long-running war against the Soviets. Most Britons have accepted fascist rule, with a police force that now regularly tortures suspects, and a body called the Watch which serves as a domestic Gestapo; some have even come to believe it to be beneficial. Yet not everyone has submitted to the regime. Among the ranks of the few resisters is Peter Carmichael, a former Scotland Yard inspector turned secret policeman, who runs a clandestine organization that struggles to help rescue people when possible. Yet he is faced with the twin challenge of a potential coup by the Duke of Windsor and the discovery of his secret life by his ward Elvira Royston, the orphaned daughter of his former police partner. Together they threaten to unravel his clandestine work, possibly even at the cost of his life.

As with the other volumes, Walton develops her story by alternating between the first-person account of the naive Elvira and a third person narrative focusing on Carmichael. Yet there is no great mystery in this volume but a dual plot focusing on the emergence of the totalitarian "Ironsides" movement and Elvira's growing exposure to the realities of her world. Without the mystery, the emphasis is on suspense, yet Walton comes up short here. While she implies that her alternate Britain is a terrifying place, little of this seems to come out in the novel itself. Instead, everything seems almost laughably tame, from a secret policeman who is astonishing indiscreet and easily caught unawares to a underground coup that is hardly anything to fear. All of this saps the suspense from the story, making it a somewhat unsatisfying conclusion to an otherwise enjoyable and well-realized series.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A fine parable of human frailties 1 décembre 2008
Par Jules Mazarin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
One shouldn't take the "alternate history" trappings of Walton's "pocket change" trilogy too seriously. Other, lesser, writers have created works based on counterfactual historical premises in which the whole point is to explore the ramifications of a world in which, for example, Napoleon wins at Waterloo, or someone uses a time machine to ship a load of AK-47s and ammunition to Robert E. Lee.

Jo Walton's trilogy does rest on a historical counterfactual--that the United States refused to support Britain in 1940, and that Britain was consequently forced to make peace with Hitler. However, the counterfactual is not central to Walton's work; it is only a literary device that serves to set the story in a place that both is, and is not, here and now. Because the world of Walton's trilogy is a distorted version of our own, both recognizable and yet alien, what might have been an ideological diatribe becomes instead a most effective parable.

Walton uses this dark mirror of our world as a stage-setting for a parable that illustrates compellingly the ease with which men can be seduced into accepting evil in return for an imagined safety, and how quickly ordinary and decent people can be made to descend the declivity of betrayal, corruption, fear, and self-hate. Walton writes as though she cares about her characters, and consequently makes us care. Most of them are neither totally evil nor altogether good; they are almost always interesting. Caught up in events they cannot control, these people must make decisions that entail compromises; some win through, while others lose their lives or--worse--their souls.

Though Walton's story has clear parallels to the present day, she is never heavy-handed, obvious, or judgmental. While Walton's trilogy isn't an ideological sermon, it does disturb and--one hopes--gives rise to serious reflection.

My one criticism of this work is that Inspector Carmichael gets off too lightly. The inspector has compromised too much of his integrity; I feel that there should have been a price required for that.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A fine conclusion to an excellent trilogy 1 octobre 2008
Par Dr. F. S. Ledgister - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Walton's 'Small Change' Trilogy, begun with Farthing, and continued with Ha'penny is brought to a satisfactory, and somewhat surprising conclusion in this book. Unlike its predecessors it does not revolve around a crime. Instead it is focused on the actions of two characters, the commander of Britain's political police, the Watch, Commander Carmichael, and his ward, Elvira Royston, as they grapple with the political and social realities of this alternative Britain of 1960. Carmichael, and his partner/manservant Jack provide continuity with the previous novels, though mention is made of characters from both, and characters from both previous novels make appearances.

Walton plays with alternative history like a musician, bringing in elements from actual history with a slight skew. In Farthing it was the Cliveden Set, in Ha'penny, it was the Mitford sisters; here it is Burgess, minus Maclean, Philby, and Blunt, but elevated. The novel concludes with a twist, as surprising as it is welcome, delivered by a character singularly appropriate for the role.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Must Read 19 juin 2010
Par Annandale - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Half a Crown does not disappoint, and Walton brings her superb trilogy of fascist Britain to its inevitable conclusion. Unlike some reviewers, I do not think the ending was too optimistic or unexpected. Recent history has shown that there are cycles to the behavior of governments and individuals, and whether one is lucky enough to be around in one of the "good" cycles, or unfortunate enough to be living in one of the "bad," what goes around, comes around, and everything ends, even tyranny. Though it appears the new regime will be more liberal and enlightened, and certainly the previous crowd were mad as hatters, I do not think it certain that Walton is telling readers that now everything will be ok. A new group is taking over, they look and smell better, but it's really only a question of their time having arrived, who knows how it will all end up. After all, we all get the governments and the leaders we deserve.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The surprising finale to Farthing 28 septembre 2012
Par Wulfstan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
In "Farthing" Jo Walton came up with the best WWI Alt-Hist idea I have read yet- and hid that as simply backstory inside a murder mystery- and a cracking good mystery it was, full of twists and turns and a surprising ending.

In Half a Crown we continue with the same protagonist as the fist two books (the middle book being "Ha'penny"). England has gotten more and more Nazi-like. Persecution of "Jews & Communists" is getting more extreme, and now our protagonist is the unwilling head of "the Watch"- GB's version of the Gestapo.

This time it's more of a thriller than a mystery. But again Jo surprised me by the ending.
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