Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

The Franchise Affair: Josephine Tey


Is that all?

You see I was expecting a last minute bouleversement that would flip the characters like fish in a skillet and it never came.

In other words, I was expecting Tey to be Christie and she ain't.

Robert, our narrator, is a small town solicitor, solid to the core, who is called to the assistance of a shabby genteel woman who has recognised him as one of her "sort". If this were Christie there'd be dry rot behind her panelling. As it's not Christie she and all the other middle class persons turn out to be thorough-goingly and unironically nice and it was the oik what done it.

The oik is a sixteen year old schoolgirl. She looks innocent enough but- O my God- there's a lipstick in her pocket.  None of the nice characters are taken in by her for a second because, with their finely tuned social antennae, they know uppityness when they see it. Sarah Waters- in an excellent article I've stolen from liberally- calls The Franchise Affair "hysterical" - and so it is- a shuddering reaction to the changes of the post-war world- to liberal bishops and poetry that doesn't make sense and the Attlee government and the servant problem. Our shabby genteel heroine is too poor to engage a maid and has to do the washing-up herself.  Robert is horrified. He contemplates not going to dinner at her house in order to spare her the shame. The simpler solution- that he might offer to wield the dish cloth himself- just doesn't arise.

Oh- and by the way- aren't our policemen wonderful!
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