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Stella Matutina
books and stories and musings, oh my!
109. Half A Crown by Jo Walton 
22nd-Jul-2010 02:01 pm
Author: Jo Walton
Series: book three of Small Change
Publisher: Tor
Publication Year: 2008
Pages: 320
Status: library, unfortunately

LibraryThing Info

A debutante awakens to the truth behind her fascist society.

FARTHING was good and HA’PENNY was wonderful, but HALF A CROWN? It takes the cake, my friends. It’s damned good.

Also, terrifying.

With this final installment, Walton takes us ten years ahead, to 1960. Britain is quite firmly fascist and our narrator, Elvira, can scarcely remember a time when things were different. She’s not horrified by it, as Lucy was, or complacent, like Viola; she believes that fascism is “terribly fun.” It’s the status quo, and she’s fine with it.

Then she finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and everything changes.

Her perspective doesn’t shift in a heartbeat, though. Walton’s too good a writer to pull something like that. Even after she’s wrongly arrested, Elvira is slow to accept that the world she knows so well may not be all sunshine and roses. She’s led a privileged life, away from the darker side of fascism, and it takes a while for her illusions to disperse. Walton handles the transition very well indeed. I found the buildup chilling, and I especially appreciated how she dealt with Elvira’s experiences among British Jews.

Carmichael, Elvira’s guardian, wrestles with his own demons. His job’s been wearing away at him for ten long years, and he’s very nearly at the breaking point. Elvira’s situation takes the truths he faces every day and makes them personal. I shan’t tell you much more than that, for fear of spoilers, but I was quite satisfied with the way Walton wrapped up his story.

On the downside, I do feel like the series ending was a tad simplistic. I question whether everything could have been resolved in such a fashion. This is one of those rare instances, though, when an unsatisfying ending doesn’t diminish my reaction to the rest of the story. Walton still gives us plenty to ponder, and I sort of feel like we’re only seeing the beginning of the end. No one denies that there’s still a lot of work to do, but we won’t be around to see it done. And that’s okay.

If you have any interest in political fiction, I highly recommend this series. Start with FARTHING and work your way forward, though, so you can see how the issues unfold.

4 stars

Challenge Stuff:

GLBT Reading – another for #teamboyskissing.

Age Breakdown:

Elvira and her friend Betsy are younger than me. Everyone else is older.

Other Reviews:

Outside of a Dog: Kate Nepveu's Book Log (also covers HA'PENNY)
Strategist's Personal Library
Zeno's Library

Did I miss yours? Please let me know so I can link to it.
22nd-Jul-2010 11:11 pm (UTC)
*whine* Stooooooop it, you are making me huuuuuuuuuungry for the booooooooooks that I can't haaaaaaaaaaaave.

I am definitely a bad person. Here I have access to a superb library all full of superb books, and all I can do is whine about my self-imposed rules. This is why I don't count as a real grown-up. Well, this, and the no job, and the fact that I still laugh at poop jokes.

Seriously, Jo Walton sounds so great. I can't wait to read her. She will be among the first books I read for my not-reading-the-end-anymore project.
25th-Jul-2010 12:43 am (UTC)
I'm sorry! I can't help it! I just gotta share the book-love!

I've got my fingers crossed that you'll like Jo Walton, when you're able to read her. I really want to get my hands on her earlier books, now, but the Auckland Libraries only have the second in her first duology. Sigh. That was a smart purchase, that was.
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