Josephine Tey

SnakBritish & Irish Crime Fiction

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Josephine Tey

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aug 7, 2006, 6:41 pm

Our library only had two Josephine Tey books; thankfully, one was a three-book omnibus and I finished The Singing Sands today (of course, it was only after I finished it that I read the dust jacket summary completely and discovered that "Sands" is the last Alan Grant mystery).

Alan seems to be an interesting character, though so far "Sands" reveals a lot more of his personality than Shilling for candles does so far.

aug 7, 2006, 7:26 pm

Alan seems to be an interesting character, though so far "Sands" reveals a lot more of his personality than Shilling for candles does so far.

I agree. It's sad she died so early; I'd have liked to see more of her work. There are some flaws in The Singing Sands, compared to her most perfectly weighted books (Brat Farrar, The Daughter of Time, and The Franchise Affair); yet I find it her most poetic work.

aug 7, 2006, 8:08 pm

What? Alan Grant appears in more than just The Daughter of Time?

Gads. Another author whose works I need to look for. I read DoT a long time ago and recently reread it (reviewed it here at LT, too), but I've never run across any of her other books.

aug 7, 2006, 8:45 pm

There aren't many but they are worth looking for.

aug 7, 2006, 10:18 pm

Oh, Linkmeister; I'm sorry for you! ;) Seriously, the quality varies, but at her best, she is very, very good.

Not all of the books feature Grant - notably Brat Farrar and Miss Pym Disposes. Are there any others lacking him? I'm stopping in the midst of a couple tasks, and don't remember.

aug 9, 2006, 12:50 pm

The Singing Sands was a most successful book selection in one discussion series I did featuring detectives that were not operating on their native soil; it was fund to discover that the Wabar element of the story had its basis in real news events of the time. I'm using The Franchise Affair as part of a series I'm doing on courtroom mysteries. Her books generally are positive choices. I think Brat Farrar is wonderful, even without the figure of Grant.

aug 9, 2006, 7:02 pm

I've just finished Singing Sands, Daughter of Time, and Shilling for Candles... Call me a hopeless romantic, but I missed seeing a love interest for Grant; a woman who could capture his imagination must be something special. Did Tey ever write one for him or is platonic relationship with the actress Marta the furthest she got?

sep 25, 2006, 7:28 pm

Aside from the youthful fondness for his cousin, Marta is all there was. However romantic of me, I'd have enjoyed even a glimpse of someone who could, as you say, capture Grant's imagination. But perhaps because her own life seems not to have included this, there's a degree of realism and honesty in NOT portraying it for him. Or, perhaps she one day would have done; if only fleetingly.

jillmwo: can you tell me more about the real-life inspiration for 'the Wabar element'?

mar 22, 2007, 1:40 pm

I just finished Brat Farrar and really enjoyed it, but I would have enjoyed more look at the murderer's motives.


Simon said he hated Patrick, but never why. Why would he hate his own brother so much? I would have liked to see more to that scene where he confesses to Brat.

sep 27, 2007, 7:45 pm

Jealousy and difference of temperament. They can do a lot.

Redigeret: dec 28, 2007, 10:08 am

Don't forget To Love And Be Wise, Alan Grant solves that mystery as well. Not a great book, but it's a favorite of mine.

Redigeret: dec 27, 2007, 12:29 pm

It is a very good one, though: I feel a bit that way about The Singing Sands. Somehow, toward the end, it drifts into the realm of fantasy (far from its overall tone, I think). But it's poetic, throughout, and strong - as her books are; deeply and unsentimentally felt, incisive; deserving of our partiality, if not unmitigated praise.

Harry: welcome to LibraryThing! :) Extra Tey fans are always welcome! ;)

Single brackets around a book title, or double around an author, will get you the ever-useful blue 'touchstones'. They're great reference points in a conversation (see above, right, for one use), and lead directly to all LT's work info on a book. To Love and Be Wise deserves one!

dec 27, 2007, 11:24 pm


Call me a hopeless romantic, but I missed seeing a love interest for Grant; a woman who could capture his imagination must be something special.

Didn't Grant admit to some sort of "pull" towards a certain character in To Love and Be Wise? (I don't want to say more, since it would be easy to spoil that story for others.) Or was his attraction more intellectual than anything else? It's been ages since I read that book, but I seem to remember echoes of Sherlock Holmes and his admiration of the woman, Irene Adler.

I came across P.D. James after first reading Josephine Tey. Baroness James's Adam Dalgliesh reminded me of Alan Grant in many ways - primarily in his arms-length relationships with women (although it's interesting that their first names are similar and that despite being Englishmen, their surnames are Scottish!). I remember being very disappointed when my hopes for a May-December romance between Dalgliesh and James's sole female detective Cordelia Gray - hinted at so obliquely in The Murder Room - were subsequently dashed. Oh well...

Thinking back on all these unattainable men, is it safe to say there are enough unencumbered and/or celibate male detectives in BritLit to call this a tradition? Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown are surely among the first, if so.

dec 28, 2007, 2:40 am

Whoa, I definitely didn't realize that Grant (who I liked very much in Daughter of Time actually featured elsewhere! Oh Bookmooch, don't fail me now! If anyone hasn't yet read it, at least my local Borders has the newer trade paperback on the bargain table for $4.

Redigeret: dec 28, 2007, 10:57 am

All in all, according to one website I found, the Alan Grant mysteries are:

The Man in the Queue, 1929
A Shilling for Candles, 1936
To Love and Be Wise, 1950
The Daughter of Time, 1951
The Singing Sands, 1952

Didn't Grant also appear briefly in The Franchise Affair? Or am I misremembering?

P.S. Public libraries tend to carry plenty of Tey, if you need a quick fix :-)

P.P.S. Title touchstones are not working today.

dec 28, 2007, 11:04 am

Didn't Grant also appear briefly in The Franchise Affair? Or am I misremembering?

Chamekke, I was wondering the same thing. I have a persistent sense of Grant's fleeting appearance.

dec 28, 2007, 12:58 pm

Grant does make an appearance in The Franchise Affair, but I wouldn't call it a Grant novel like the ones listed by chamekke in message 15.

dec 28, 2007, 1:24 pm

No, I quite agree. That's why it was puzzling: I knew it was NOT a Grant novel, yet I thought he appeared, in a way I couldn't quite shake.

- Not that there's anything terribly unusual, or unlike Tey, in such an appearance.

dec 28, 2007, 5:32 pm

Yes, that's it. Grant turns up as a secondary character towards the end... rather the way that Dalgliesh turns up unexpectedly at the end of An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. (Making the reader rub her eyes and say: Whuh?)

dec 23, 2009, 3:52 pm

Waking this thread up with a yawn and lots of blinking to ask: what are people's thoughts about reading the Alan Grant books in order? Necessary? Advisable? Doesn't matter?

I've read The Daughter of Time, and I'm wondering whether to try to read the others in order, or just get whichever happens to be on the shelf in the library.

dec 24, 2009, 4:18 pm

>20 Eat_Read_Knit:

I didn't read any of them in order and didn't notice at all. I believe Singing Sands is the last one so perhaps save that one for last. Other than that, I can't recall anything in any of the books that made me think they needed to be read in order.

dec 24, 2009, 4:50 pm

>21 waiting4morning: Thanks! I shall see which they have in at the library next time I'm there.

jan 18, 2010, 5:12 pm

And this thread also seems like a good place to annouce that we're having a group read of Josephine Tey's Brat Farrar over in the 75 Books Challenge group, beginning on March 15. Everyone is welcome!

Redigeret: mar 16, 2010, 11:51 am

A reminder that the Brat Farrar group read is under way and all are welcome to join in.

apr 28, 2014, 3:36 pm

Inheritance. Patrick was older.

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