Thursday, June 28, 2012

F is for Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey



At times, a book can lead you to another book. When I read Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger, I came to know that the book was influenced by Waters' reading of Josephine Tey's The Franchise Affair. Since I wanted some questions answered as regards The Little Stranger, I downloaded Tey's book.



About to close his office, the lawyer Robert Blair, receives a call from Marion Sharpe, a rather reclusive lady who resides with her mother in a house called The Franchise. Marion wants legal advice from Blair as a young girl by the name of Betty Kane is pressing criminal charges against Marion and her mother claiming that they had kidnapped and kept her in captivity. Intrigued by this, Blair takes up the case. Soon The Scotland Yard, represented by (Tey's recurring hero) Inspector Alan Grant, gets involved. They are all ready to dismiss the case when Betty drops a bomb-shell by accurately describing the room where she claims she was held captive.

 Persuaded by his growing attraction for Marion, Blair has to use all his resources to get the Sharpes out of this mess. But, at times, he too is assailed by doubts about their innocence.

What intrigued me the most while reading the book was not so much the mystery as the depiction of the class divide in England. Betty is a working class girl (moving about, taking up odd-jobs etc) while the Sharpes are genteel upper-class ladies (rooted in their home and culture). Even in moments of adversity, they are stiff-upper lip and head held high etc...Marion rings up Blair because he is "one of us." Though he doesn't take up criminal cases, she refuses to go to the criminal lawyer, Blair suggests to her, because he doesn't seem like "one of us." One of Blair's friends whom he calls in for assistance is at once convinced about the innocence of the Sharpes because they were related to somebody (obviously upper class) whom he knew too. In fact, Blair feels ashamed at times that he doesn't have that kind of belief in his clients.

 Uncomfortable reading at times (like Allingham's Police at the Funeral though the issue there is of race rather than class) but interesting because of the depiction of the Post-War churning of the classes and the author's own sympathies.

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Entry for letter F in the Crime Fiction Meme.

8 comments:

  1. Interesting. I love your description "uncomfortable at times". I do want to read a Tey. Thanks for the review.

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    1. Thanks Clarissa. There are books where the views of the author/ characters are so different from yours that it is interesting to record your own response.

      If you do not mind reading e-books than you can download many of Tey's books (including this one) from Gutenberg Australia.

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  2. I am always glad to see a post on a favorite book and a favorite author. This book and Brat Farrar are my favorites by Tey, although I loved them all. You have reminded me of the post-war setting, which I must not have noticed the last time I read this. A very perceptive review. I may add this to my Vintage Mystery challenge list to read.

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    1. Thanks Tracy. I do not enjoy Tey particularly mostly because her sympathies are evident right from the beginning but would like to read her Daughter of Time since I have heard nothing but praise for it.

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  3. Excellent post! I like Tey also. Just got 3 of her books at a used book store. I will have to look for this one. wish I could see the BBC series!

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  4. Thanks Peggy. This is interesting because of its presentation of the class-conflict in Post-War England. If you do not get a copy of it, you can download it from Gutenberg Australia.

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  5. Nice to see Tey featured :-). She's often overlooked I think. And I agree that the class issue is a feature in her work. You see it I think in other novels too. Excellent choice for F!

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    1. Thanks Margot for visiting. I haven't enjoyed Tey particularly as of yet but would definitely read some more of her works, perhaps The Daughter of Time.

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