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Brat Farrar

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It is the first Tey novel I have read and I now have that wonderful prospect ahead of me, anticipating seven more novels to enjoy. Some day the foundation of the life he was living here would give way; Simon would achieve the plan he was devising to undo him, or some incautious word of his own would bring the whole structure crashing down; and then there would be no more Eleanor. He grooms him, and persuades him to assume Patrick’s persona, and reappear on the scene (with a plausible explanation for the false suicide) and claim the Ashby inheritance. Also, Brat had been unaccountably puzzled, when a woman wanted to marry him, even though he was a “kept man”.

Poor Brat Farrar, a lonely soul, without affect, disconnected from the material world, disconnected from himself, a man and a mind alone. I admit to being less interested in Murnane's account of Hereward the Wake (it sounded more like historical fiction, which I generally avoid) than in his much more interesting account of the book featuring the woman rider on the fine horse, so I decided to pause my reading of Barley Patch and read Josephine Tey's Brat Farrar straight away.Now, on the eve of his twin brother's coming of age, a young man turns up claiming, as Patrick, his substantial inheritance, In appearance he might well be the missing bot; he passes all tests satisfactorily and is accepted by his family - except by Simon, the twin brother, who denounces him as an imposter. Ashbys have lived there for generations: the estate — established but unpretentious, like its family (who will never change their traditional inn rooms for better ones when they attend the local agricultural fair) — represents the continuities and privileges of English country life. Aunt Bee is typical of a generation of war-time women who had to be strong and unselfish for the sake of others.

A stranger enters the inner sanctum of the Ashby family posing as Patrick Ashby, heir to the family’s sizeable fortune. At this same table had eaten Ashbys who had died of fever in India, of wounds in the Crimea, of starvation in Queensland, of typhoid at the Cape, and of cirrhosis of the liver in the Straits settlements. Alan currently works for the MoD and was involved with high profile projects such as Tornado and he managed the Sea Skua anti-ship missile system. In the mythology around Lady Godiva, she rode naked through the streets of Coventry to fulfill a bargain she made with her husband so that he might lower the cruel taxes on the people of the city.To lighten the boredom of convalescence, Inspector Alan Grant investigates a crime of the time of Richard III by reconstructing it and considering it with his critical policeman's eye. Because Brat’s likeness to Simon is so remarkable, Alec is sure he can teach Brat to impersonate the missing twin, Patrick, and thereby as the elder brother, claim the trust and the estate.

It is Simon who has the most to lose from Patrick’s reappearance since Simon will no longer be the Ashby heir; the family fortune will revert back to Patrick who is the eldest son. In the un-named English county where Tey sets the story, there are two neighbouring families, both formerly rather grand. The plot's plausibility is heavily dependent on a couple of unique coincidences but, once you accept the premise, everything else follows.

The only image I and many others may have of Lady Godiva is of a beautiful woman riding a fine horse across a landscape just like the character in the Tey book!

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