Reading progress update: I've read 43 out of 246 pages.

The Singing Sands - Josephine Tey

This is quite different in tone from Tey's  other books, and I can think of a few reasons for that. The story starts with a pretty realistic description of Grant suffering from the mental health issues / depression that he occasionally showed in some of the previous books, but contrary to the previous books, in this one it sets the tone of the story. 

 

And then there are some other observations of political trends that Tey puts her pen to mock with a delicious viciousness. There are reasons for this which Jennifer Morag Henderson details really well in her biography of Tey, such as the divides caused by petty nationalism. 

 

Anyway, so far this is dark, ... but also beautiful, and some of the dialogues are very close to those I have found in her plays:

‘But does it have to be Pat who presents the bouquet?’

‘Yes. If he doesn’t do it, the MacFadyean’s Willie will.’

‘Laura, you shock me.’

‘I wouldn’t if you could see the MacFadyean’s Willie. He looks like a frog with elephantiasis. And his socks are always falling down. It should be a little girl’s business, but there is no female child of the right age in the glen. So it rests between Pat and the MacFadyean’s Willie. And quite apart from Pat’s looking nicer, it is right that someone from Clune should do it. And don’t say “Why?” and don’t say I shock you. You just see what you can do to talk Pat into it.’

‘I’ll try,’ Grant said, smiling at her. ‘Who is his Viscountess?’

‘Lady Kentallen.’

‘The dowager?’

‘The widow, you mean. There is only one, so far. Her boy isn’t old enough yet to be married.’

‘How did you get her?’

‘She was at school with me. At St Louisa’s.’

‘Oh: blackmail. The tyranny of auld lang syne.’

‘Tyranny nothing,’ said Laura. ‘She was glad to come and do the chore. She’s a darling.’

‘The best way to bring Pat up to his bit would be to make her attractive in his eyes.’

‘She’s ragingly attractive.’

‘I don’t mean that way. I mean, make her good at something he admires.’

‘She’s an expert with a fly,’ Laura said doubtfully, ‘but I don’t know that Pat would find that very impressive. He just thinks that someone who can’t fish is abnormal.’

‘I suppose you couldn’t endow her with a few revolutionary tendencies.’

‘Revolutionary!’ said Laura, her eye brightening. ‘Now that’s an idea. Revolutionary. She used to be a little on the pink side. She did it “to annoy Miles and Georgiana”, the used to say. They are her parents. She was never very serious about it; she was much too good-looking to need anything like that. But I might build something on that foundation. Yes. We might make her a revolutionary.’