***Group Read: Brat Farrar (Spoilers)
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I liked the way Tey let the reader know right from the beginning that Brat was an imposter. When I started reading, I couldn't work out why she'd done that: it seemed to take all the mystery out of the story. Later on I could really appreciate the twist on the is-he-or-isn't-he theme and the way Tey used it to let Brat investigate what happened to Patrick.
"Well, I was intending to read this for the group read but...I couldn't wait. I made the mistake of starting early and it was just too good to stop!
This book was fabulous. It's exactly the kind of book I like - cozy, nothing graphic, lots of mystery and a fair amount of tension/suspense.
From the moment Brat Farrar comes into the narrative I was smitten. I found him fascinating. I don't want to say much about this book because it would be easy to spoil it. Let's just say that Brat Farrar is an 'orphan' who happens to look a lot like a boy who committed suicide eight years ago. Much of the book is devoted to finding out who he really is, or isn't. But it's SOOOO much more than that!
If your reading tastes are similar to mine, you will love this book! It's definitely my new favorite Josephine Tey."
Caty, I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I actually wasn't sure at first if Brat really WAS an imposter - we were shown that he was, but he seemed to 'fit' so well and look the part so well I was convinced he had to be an Ashby (I didn't think about the possibility of a cousin yet). But when Elinor picked him up at the station and he admired her arms, I knew he was definitely an imposter...
But my doubts actually made the book more irresistible - I HAD to find out if he was or not...
I did think the last few chapters weren't as brilliant as the rest of the story, but it was still great.
Did I miss the part that tells us how old the sister, Eleanor, is? I don't remember reading it and was curious what the age gap was between her and her brothers.
I went through the whole book assuming that it took place in England, but now I remember that there is a County Clare in Ireland. Was this an Irish setting?
I enjoyed the book, especially seeing how Brat reacted to having a family for the first time. I kept hoping that the book wouldn't end with him being alone again.
On the plus side, I I loved Brat and thought it was clever how he managed to win our sympathies despite the circumstances we meet him in.
As a "mystery", I found the book weak. This may be something to do with its era. The crime novels I usually read are modern, very complicated with multiple red herrings and often endings which you are unlikely to work out yourself because the author suddenly introduces new information. Brat Farrar was the complete reverse. The "revelation" regarding Simon was obvious from the beginning and it didn't take me long to work out the Walter thing as he is conveniently mentioned on page ten for no other possible purpose at all. I kept thinking these were red herrings and there would be a twist (maybe Aunt Bee would turn out to be the mother!) but everything seemed to pan out inevitably. I was also unconvinced by the ending and how keen everyone was on accepting Brat into the family despite the circumstances. Well I can understand Eleanor, but not the others!
I did like the characterisation on the whole though the family's utter belief in their innate superiority put me off them a bit!
Oh and regarding #12, The Clare thing combined with the horses made me suddenly wonder if we were supposed to be in Ireland but I read on and it was definitely England!
edited for typos
...and yes, the book is set in a fictional village, somewhere on the South coast of the UK. That said, there is a real village in Suffolk called Clare, but it's too far from the Sea to be the same place...
This was a re-read for me and, having loved it at the time I first read it (aged about 15 - which made it quite strange to read now at twice the age, as a lot of the central characters are younger, instead of older than me now), I was worried that it wouldn't live up to my memories.
Well, I didn't really notice how dated it was the first time (I think at that age, most of my reading was written in a similar period, or earlier) - there's a definite class structure and stiff-upper-lip attitude that I don't think exists to that extent any more. However, even knowing how the story spans out, I still loved reading it again.
I suppose that, as a mystery story, it isn't that hard to fathom - you know pretty much how things will span out from your very first introduction to Simon, but, in my opinion, this isn't really the excitement of the story - after all, you know from the get-go half the answer to the real mystery - that Brat isn't, in fact, Patrick. Again, the fact that Brat turns out to be a cousin is not really a surprise either - although, to my mind, this is one of the weakest parts of the ending. For me, the excitement of the story is watching the relationship between Simon and Brat - I think that Josephine Tey is very good at conveying the confusion - that neither of them can figure out what is going on.
#11 ludmillalotaria - that's interesting, I didn't realise that The Ivy Tree was so influenced by Brat Farrar - although I have to say, as I was re-reading it this time, I kept thinking exactly that - just how similar the two are...
What a great choice for a group read!
I confess that when it was discovered that Brat was a cousin and Eleanor wanted to marry him, I went, "Eeeewww."
The cousin thing didn't bother me. And given that Brat is the son of 'Cousin Walter' they must be at least second cousins anyway. The fact that he's the spitting image of her brother is slightly more eeuwww-inducing, to my mind.
Thanks to flissp for recommending it after I finished Tey's The Franchise Affair. I have a couple more of her books to read now.
Yes, you're right. The relationship between Simon and Brat was another great part of the book and we wouldn't have appreciated that if we hadn't known what we knew! I think maybe my reservations were based on false expectations. It was the first Tey I'd read and I was expecting more in the way of red herrings and surprise revelations. I did enjoy the book though and have ordered the Franchise Affair to read next.
Did anyone have any fleeting thoughts about someone (maybe Nancy or Bea) putting Loding up to the scheme to begin with? I have to confess that it occurred to me, but it was never shown whether anyone else but Loding ever saw Brat (that I could discern).
It became obvious that Simon had been responsible for Patrick's death way before the "revelation".
I didn't think there was anyone else behind Loding. I don't think the book mentions whether or not Brat continued to pay Loding - obviously he didn't need to keep his real identity secret at the end of the book.
I quite agree with you on the main mystery part, I also figured Simon had something to do with it, but I did not fully understand his reaction when he met Brat the first time. I did not pick up on the Walter lead either, maybe I would make a lousy detective.
All in all I really enjoyed this book, and am very glad I discovered Josephine Tey as an author. I had never heard of her before, and will definitely read more of her books. The style reminds me in many ways of Agatha Christie (maybe because of the time period), though her stories usually had a more intriguing mystery (but this assumption is solely based on one book by Tey, so I might be wrong). This sort of "cozy mystery" is a nice break from what I think have become the Scandinavian crime/mystery style. I guess most of you have heard about you have heard about Stieg Larsson's books (which I haven't read, but seen the movies), the Scandinavian style is pretty much the same. There are often a lot of violence, there is often a subplot with organized crime and brutal murders. The violence and brutality is often described down to every little detail, it almost never just implied (though I like the mystery, I don't always like to read in detail about the violence, maybe that's just me). The plot is almost always set in modern times, and the detective is almost always divorced, have an alcohol problem or spend too little time with his/her family and always feel guilty about it. Maybe I just like the British style better, in my opinion they are very good at the mystery genre.
Well, thanks for making me read this book, and since it is Easter and Easter is the high season for crime/mystery books here in Norway, I'm off to read Agatha Christie:)
And I knew from that first meeting between Brat & Simon that something was off with Simon but I just could not put my finger on it. He was just a bit too smug. I thought I should feel bad for him as he was losing his inheritance but just could not make myself do that.
I enjoyed the characters in this book. I didn't come to care about all of them but I enjoyed them. I enjoyed the setting very, very much.
My copy of the book states that Josephine Tey belonged to the "Golden Age of British crime writing"; 1920-1950 and gives her huge kudos for her non-formulaic works; stating that when you picked up a Tey you never knew what to expect; that they were always so different. Reading Brat Farrar has convinced me to find that out for myself.
Another great G/R from the 75 Book gig!~!