Brat Farrar ~ by Josephine Tey

I read Josephine Tey’s most popular and famous book,  The Daughter of Time (1951)  several years ago and very much enjoyed it . It’s often considered  one of the best mystery books of all time and Tey is also known for Bret Farrar which she had written a couple years before The Daughter of Time and I’d been wanting to read ever since.

Brat Farrar
by Josephine Tey
1949 / 288 pages
read by Carole Boyd – 7h  55m
rating:  A+ /8     classic literary crime

The Ashby children,  orphaned by the sudden death of their parents eight years prior,  live at Latchetts estate,  along with their father’s spinster sister Bee.    The Ashby’s have lived at Latchett’s for generations but for the last several years they have been financially strapped.  However  in a few months,  when Simon turns 21,  he will come into his substantial portion of the inheritance,  including Latchetts,  which should ease things considerably.

During the time of hardship Aunt Bea has turned the stables to a profit by breeding and training horses in addition to giving riding lessons.  It’s worked out and much of the novel concerns horses,  training, riding, and contests.

The four children are Simon age 20,  Eleanor age 18 or 19,  and the twins Jane and Ruth age 9.  There used to be another boy in the family,  Patrick,  Simon’s  fraternal twin who was also 13 when their parents died.    Patrick had apparently written a good-bye apology and it was assumed to be a suicide note although no body was ever found.   In the opening chapters Bee and her friend Nancy, a neighbor,  discuss all this background.

Then in Chapter 3 we meet Brat Farrar –  the spitting image of Simon Ashby.  Brat had caught the attention of Alec Loding in London when he’d returned from the US.   Loading is a B-movie actor  figure and  a scam artist who has known the Ashby’s very well for a long time.  Loding offers Brat a deal which Brat refuses,  but the idea is in his head.  So he claims to be Patrick Ashby and approaches the Ashby family in his own way to see what transpires.

Much of the book is kind of slow and almost boring (not quite) but the last few chapters are superb and I just may read a few more of Tey’s books.

The story was based a bit on the real-life story of the Tichborne case:

Josephine Tey: