A Shilling for Candles

Every time I read a new Josephine Tey novel, I end up saying “this is the best one she wrote.” In order that has been – The Franchise Affair, To Love and Be Wise, The Daughter of Time, The Man in the Queue, Brat Farrar (just last week) and now A Shilling for Candles.

Tey writes stellar characters and then writes effortlessly engaging dialogue for them. Other writers also do that; Christie in “Why Didn’t they ask Evans?” and Hammett in The Thin Man, of course. But Tey’s charming witty banter floats on air in a magical way. She’s just so good at it. Grant seems to be a catalyst for that sort of writing from her.

This novel – this needs to be a movie. Or a miniseries. It’s topical for one thing; the meditation on crushing levels of fame is particularly timely. The characters sparkle in a way that just begs to have real humans saying their words aloud.

This particular reprint I have is awful. I bought it years ago when it was the only one available on Amazon. It’s a print of a photocopy, reduced to fit a trim size such that the print is way too small. There are errors in the back cover copy and the biography. The cover art has nothing whatsoever to do with the book.

And despite the almost unreadable typographic problems, the story shines.

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