Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey



Brat Farrar Brat FarrarJosephine Tey; Scribner Paperback Fiction 1997WorldCat

Almost eight years ago Patrick Ashby, a thirteen-year-old boy, committed suicide after his parents’ death. No body was found, just his jacket and a farewell note. Now Simon Ashby, the younger twin, is about the inherit the Ashby holdings.

Alec Loding, an Ashby neighbor, is down on his luck. It suddenly improves when he stumbles across Simon in London. Only the man he meets isn’t Simon, but an uncanny likeness. This man is an orphan who had left London, made his way to Mexico and the United States, and has now returned to England. Brat Farrar, the orphan, has no family. Loding makes Brat an offer he finds he can’t refuse. He agrees to learn to be Patrick Ashby returned, not from the dead, rather from a “running away.”

Brat learns everything Loding knows, having grown up with the Ashbys. Then he approaches the family lawyers and presents himself shortly before Patrick and Simon’s twenty-first birthday. Now, as Patrick Ashby, he moves into Latchetts with the family. Unfortunately, Simon refuses to accept him or believe he is really Pat Ashby. To complicate things, he discovers an attachment to his “sister”, Eleanor.

He signs the papers, accepts the heritage. At “twenty-one”, the orphan Brat Farrar, is now the owner of a prosperous family business, horse breeding stables. He feels something is wrong, though. He wants to settle with this family. He is comfortable with them. Except for Simon, they all accept him and make him feel at home. But there is something else…something sinister lurking. What really happened to Patrick Ashby?

This is a quiet mystery, written in post-World War II England. Even when the antagonist is revealed and the final showdown comes, this novel doesn’t get flashy or suspenseful. Instead it is a quiet mystery in a country setting. I was able to easily guess most of what would happen. This is easy reading, but not great writing. Tey has a reputation as a good English writer. I wasn’t impressed by this novel, although I wasn’t repelled, either. If you enjoy classic English writers, and enjoy the styles of the mid-twentieth century, you’ll do well with this one.

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