Nancy Oakes's Reviews > The Franchise Affair

The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
900340
's review
Feb 12, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: crime-fiction-uk, classic-mystery-fiction, crime-fiction
Read in November, 2015

Actually, this is my second time with this book after having read it eons ago, and I enjoyed it much more this time around, since I read it now with more of a focus on character and postwar issues.

The Franchise Affair is just a perfect gem of a novel, based on the real-life case of Elizabeth Canning in 1753 which you can read about here. Moving the case into contemporary times, Tey updated this story to reflect various postwar concerns, as Sarah Waters notes, looking at the "moral panics - about 'problem' children and juvenile delinquency, for example - of postwar life."

For plot you can click here; what I will say is that
The main focus here is on the young Elisabeth Kane (Betty - 15), who had gone off to a suburb of Larborough to visit an aunt over a school vacation and disappeared for four weeks, bringing an accusation of kidnapping against two women (Mrs. Sharpe and her daughter Marion) of a much higher class upon her return, and their lawyer's search for justice as well as his need to expose Betty for the liar he believes she is.

To say that The Franchise Affair is a good book does it absolutely no justice. To me, it is one of her very best works, and I've read them all. Not only does it shine in terms of plot and plot turns, but Tey is also examining postwar British society here. I can't really divulge much about Betty Kane without ruining things, although what Tey has to say about her in a cumulative way reflects the dangers someone of her sort represented to the social order of the time. The English public is also looked at here -- the tendency for tabloid readers to believe what they read and make judgments based on their impressions with no real facts strikes a chord with our own times of sleazy tabloids in print and online, as well as the non-questioning sheep who believe everything that comes out via social media. Tey's novel also reflects the tendencies of those same judgmental people to make trouble for those under media scrutiny. And then there's Robert Blair, the attorney who is "usually so placid, so lazily good-natured," but discovers that with the Sharpe case, he has a "focus of interest," changing "the pattern of his life." Used to a somewhat prescribed lifestyle "without hurry and without emotion," he finds himself actually feeling alive with this case, quite possibly for the first time. The Sharpes live in a big house that once upon a time had seen better days; now they barely scrape by without servants or money but there are still certain forms that need to be maintained for the sake of appearances. There's so much more to talk about with this novel, but well time and all of that.

The Franchise Affair can be read by mystery/crime fiction readers across the board, except perhaps for those people who trend toward kickass thriller stuff ... it is so well done that it should appeal to pretty much everyone. Tey was a gifted writer, but in this book, she's gone beyond her norm and given readers a book that should, in my opinion, be considered a classic. It is an incredibly superb book that all aficionados of British crime fiction/mysteries should read.
24 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Franchise Affair.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

03/21/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Cindy I think this is my favorite book by her.


Nancy Oakes This one is really good -- I really liked Brat Farrar as well.


Donna Robbins Thanks for the link to the Sarah Waters' piece; it really sheds light on the book.


Nancy Oakes Donna wrote: "Thanks for the link to the Sarah Waters' piece; it really sheds light on the book."

You're welcome! I found it after I'd read her The Little Stranger and added it to my mega hundreds of bookmarks for things I want to remember. It definitely was a plus having it in the back of my head while reading.


Eleanor Thanks very much for the link to the interesting article by Sarah Waters, whose "The Little Stranger" I enjoyed very much indeed. I'm just embarking on a reread of "The Franchise Affair" after more years than I care to consider!


Nancy Oakes Eleanor wrote: "Thanks very much for the link to the interesting article by Sarah Waters, whose "The Little Stranger" I enjoyed very much indeed. I'm just embarking on a reread of "The Franchise Affair" after more..."

You're welcome. I'm going to be rereading Brat Farrar in the near future -- I love Tey's books!!


back to top