Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tey Time!

One of the authors I've read tons of in the past couple of months is Josephine Tey, a Scottish mystery writer who died in 1952. Tey's primary character is Scotland Yard's Inspector Alan Grant, a handsome poetry-loving detective with an interest in history and a predilection for gut feelings that drive his superior a bit mad. Although Tey is sometimes a little too rooted in her time (mostly to do with social morays), the mysteries are unconventional and a great deal of fun. Each novel is only around 200 pages, and the writing has a very lyrical quality as well as a sardonic wit. (If you know nothing else of me by now, you should know that I love me some sardonic wit.)

I pulled some "speak to Mel" quotes from the novels I returned to the library this week to share here. Enjoy!

To Love and Be Wise, Chapter 6: Lavinia on trying to define the appeal of the disconcerting Leslie Searle: "He has a nice gentle voice and an engaging drawl; but so have half the inhabitants of Texas and a large part of the population of Ireland."
(The Irish-Texan voices in my own household vary in their gentleness, but all are engaging.)

To Love and Be Wise, Chapter 14: Grant on a quiet morning in the countryside: "People who get up at the crack of dawn during the week, and had no animals to get them up on Sunday, must be glad to sleep late. He had grumbled often when his police duties had broken into his private life... but to spend one's life in bondage to the predilections of animals must be a sad waste of a free man's time."
(No, the cat never wakes me up at seven every Sunday. At least, not if the dogs get me up first.)

The Daughter of Time, Chapter 6: Marta on acquiring books: "No T. More in any of the bookshops, so tried Public Library. Can't think why one never thinks of Public Libraries. Probably because books expected to be soupy. Think this looks quite clean and unsoupy. You get fourteen days. Sounds like a sentence rather than a loan."
(Hi, Harris County Public Library and Houston Public Library - thanks for all of the unsoupy books!)


  1. I love, love, love Tey. LOVE! To Love and Be Wise is my favorite, because of all the strangely timeless literary satire. I feel like it makes a great read-a-like with Cold Comfort Farm and Graham Greene's Orient Express books from the same period, because of how they all mock the very mucky depressing country novels that are in vogue at the time.

    Have you read the Farthing trilogy by Jo Walton? They're a series of suspense novels set in a semi-Fascist England that caved to Nazi Germany rather than fighting WWII, and they're inspired by the weirdly ahistorical nature of Brat Farrar. They're pretty fantastic.

  2. Note to self: reread Cold Comfort Farm. Been too long!

    I just put in my ILL request for Farthing; hadn't heard about it until now. Thanks for what is sure to be another great rec!