Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey: B+

bratfarrarFrom the back cover:
In this surprising tale of mystery and suspense, a stranger enters the inner sanctum of the Ashby family posing as Patrick Ashby, the heir to the family’s sizable fortune. The stranger, Brat Farrar, has been carefully coached on Patrick’s mannerisms, appearance, and every significant detail of Patrick’s early life, up to his thirteenth year when he disappeared and was thought to have drowned himself. It seems as if Brat is going to pull off this most incredible deception until old secrets emerge that jeopardize the imposter’s plan and his life. Culminating in a final terrible moment when all is revealed, Brat Farrar is a precarious adventure that grips the reader early and firmly and then holds on until the explosive conclusion.

Brat Farrar wasn’t looking to con anyone when he returned to England after a long absence. But after bumping into a stranger who notes his strong resemblance to a presumed-dead heir, and tempted by the prospect of a life among horses (his passion), he ends up impersonating Patrick Ashby, who is about to turn 21 and formally inherit the Ashby family estate. After many lessons, he takes his place among the family and is eventually able to win them over, all except Simon, the younger twin brother deprived of the inheritance by the return of “Patrick.”

It’s rather nice to read a story about an imposter where he is actually the protagonist and not an enigma. Brat is a very likable character who’s had a hard life and can be forgiven for being swept up in the promise of a peaceful and comfortable existence surrounded by horses. I also really love the Ashby family, particularly Aunt Bea and Eleanor, and how genuinely Brat comes to love them and they him. The best parts of the novel describe the growing warmth and affection Brat feels for these people; their goodness makes him feel that much worse for deceiving them.

The main problem with Brat Farrar is that I guessed almost immediately what had happened to Patrick and who was responsible. The wait for my suspicions to be proved correct was definitely pleasant, since the scenery and characters are so nice, but the ending was an anticlimactic one and I think Tey neglected to reveal some of the realizations Brat made about the crime.

All in all, I liked the book very much. Predictable? Sure, but that didn’t really put much of a damper on my enjoyment.

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