The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

An exceptionally well crafted mystery that moves between the last days of the First World War and modern day Edinburgh, The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing by Mary Paulson-Ellis is a densely layered story that slowly unfurls and reveals the tragedy at its heart. 
The titular character, Solomon Farthing is a down on his heels professional Heir Hunter, a man who makes his living tracking down lost family members of those believed to have died without an heir, in exchange for a percentage of the inheritance. When a large sum of cash is found sewn into the lining of an elderly man's burial suit, the hunt is on, and this hunt will take Solomon back almost a hundred years to an abandoned farmhouse in France, in the last weeks of the so called "Great " War where a group of men are waiting for their orders and passing the time by gambling away what little treasures they possess. As Solomon chases down various leads he finds a more personal connection to the case than he ever expected.
The author has a great skill in bringing the settings of her story to life on the page, be it the hustle of Edinburgh or the sleepy French countryside, and her characters are all well crafted. I found the sections of the story set in the past particularly emotional, seeing the scars of what the men , some no more than boys had already been through, their acceptance of their fate, and their simple hopes and dreams for the future. There is a real eloquence in the way she tells their story that makes it incredibly moving. The pacing is definitely a little on the slower side, especially in the first part of the book, but I think that is necessary to set up the rest of the story , and once the story starts to unravel it is gripping. While the character of Solomon is not exactly likeable , there is still something appealing about him, and his hunt for the truth. 
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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This is a really good book executing dual timeline perfectly. The idea is also very interesting and well written. It's set in present day, but we go back to the times of First World War as well. 
It looks at the actions of a man against his soldiers and their families, and the consequences of those after 100 years. 
If you like historical stories, dual timelines, literary fiction, I'd recommend this one. 

Thanks a lot to NetGalley and the publisher for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Heir Hunter Solomon Farthing is in his sixties and having a very hard time. His family came from money which is all gone and Solomon's gambling debts are mounting, when he gets a heads up about a recently deceased Male with no apparent heirs to his fifty thousand pound fortune he is straight on the case with only a pawn ticket from his grandfather's old shop found on the dead man,Solomon is going to have to use all abilities and favours to figure this one out. 
Little did he know that it would take him back to 1918 to a group of men waiting in a farmhouse in France just weeks before the armistice.
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I enjoyed this and would definitely read again to get the maximum enjoyment. Set in the present day, but also spans the time from the first world war, it deals with the way a man copes with his duty to his soldiers and their families and the repercussions of his actions 100 years later.  A story of debts owed,  debts unpaid and debts outstanding.
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A book about war.  Not just the Great War and the 2nd World War - and Suez gets a mention - but the war everyday people face everyday.  The ups and the downs of life.  We follow eleven men through end of the Great War, and interwoven is the life of the grandson of the captain Solomon Farthing  

Well written, well woven and moving.

I read a free advance review copy.  This review is voluntary, honest and my own view.
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The two timelines in this book work together to produce a compelling story of family, comradeship and even love in times of severe hardship. Solomon himself is a difficult character to get to know, but as you move through the story, you start to understand his past and what has led him to a shady profession, accruing debts despite his genuine desire to help others as well as himself. The present day storyline was an engaging mystery, very complex and a bit hard to understand at times without a family tree of all the characters, but where the book shone was the setting of 1918. The soldiers were well-drawn and sympathetic characters, but what really stood out for me was the quality of the writing. I felt like I'd been drawn back in time and it was a very moving look at what soldiers went through. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!
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Mary Paulson-Ellis writes a historical piece of fiction about a group of soldiers billeted in a abandoned French farmhouse at the cusp of the armistice in 1918, documenting the horrors of the WW1 and the losses, families, links, mementos and legacies of this group that echo through the years to the present in 2016 Edinburgh. Solomon Farthing is an old fashioned heir hunter in the age of the internet, he is desperate and in the gutter, owing debts everywhere, to his aunt who isn't his aunt, and more pressing to the ex-fence Freddy Dodds. He is in a police cell having lost his lucky silver charm, which does not bode well for the future, hoping DCI Franklin will get him out of his current predicament. Franklin wants him to find the next kin of the recently deceased Thomas Methven within 4 days. Methven worked as a clerk at the Edinburgh Assurance Company for all his life, his burial suit has £50 000 stitched into it, and a pawn ticket thrust in his pocket, the only clue to his past.

Solomon embarks on a twisted journey into Methven's past, with Colin Dunlop, another heir hunter working with the better resourced firms utilising computer based searches, snapping at his heels for a slice of the inheritance that Solomon is depending on to lift him from his financial nightmare. What he uncovers are links to his own family history through the years, that reach back to WW1 and a group of soldiers in France, led by Captain Godfrey Farthing, a man determined to protect his soldiers, particularly a new boy recruit, after the unbearable loss of another boy soldier, Beach. He has his work cut out, his second in command, another boy, is a commissioned officer, second Lieutenant Ralph Svensen, has no experience of war, unlike the rest of the group, such as temporary Sergeant Haws, who had previously worked in an abattoir, can longer bear the sight of blood after all the horrors he has seen and experienced. Ralph wants nothing more than to fight on the front, wreaking devastation amongst his own group, engaged in gambling and machinations. Solomon goes on to prove what heir hunters all know and understand, that in the oddest of ways, people turn out to be connected, especially in a city like Edinburgh.

Paulson-Ellis writes eloquently of men and boys in war, their lives and families through the years, mental health, losses, grief, love in all its forms, of secrets and silence, the ever present ghosts, the differing debts of Solomon and Godfrey, and a haunted past resurrected in the present. The cost and horror of war permeates the entire novel, with the author acknowledging the influence and inspiration of Pat Barker's The Ghost Road, with literary references littered throughout such as Wilfred Owen's Dulce et Decorum est and Anthem for Doomed Youth, TS Eliot's The Wasteland, and many others. Excellent read. Many thanks to Pan Macmillan for an ARC.
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I enjoyed this story very much. Construction of a Story within a story worked really well moving between past and present. Intriguing mystery. Most satisfying ending which I didn’t see coming. Beautifully told and compassionate without being mawkish or over emotional. I shall now read anything else written by the same author. Thank you #netgalley for a book I may not have come across otherwise. #TheInheritanceOfSolomonFarthing
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This is an absorbing and well written book which covers two lines of time - WWI and 2016. Solomon Farthing is an Heir Hunter but one who isn't doing well out of it. We meet him down on his luck until his friend from the police tips him off about a possible fortune which brings him not only to chasing around the country looking for family relatives but also revealing his own family secrets.
The small intimate finds link  back to Captain Farthing and his troop of soldiers waiting in a French farm as the final days of the war approach.  All the men reveal their own problems and ways of survival but will Captain Farthing be able to hold the remains of his regiment together or will the basic human desire of jealousy and survival cause future fall out?
There is good atmosphere of the seedier parts of Edinburgh and the underbelly of pawn shops over the years alongside the realistic portrayal of life in the final days of the war in France.
Loss, secrets, childhoods disrupted and lives upturned because of the consequences of actions all filter through this novel.
Loved it immensely.  Totally drawn in by the characters and felt the burden, distress and sometimes happiness of Solomon himself as he seeks to unravel the whole mystery.
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This was an intricately woven story and whilst I did find the telling of it a little unclear in some places, it was intriguing -  I certainly wanted to discover what had happened to Farthing and his men. I found the characters in 1918 far more engaging than the characters in the present, and for me, the past was the stronger part of the novel. I liked having glimpses of those characters later on in their lives, reminding us that the men thrust into those extraordinary circumstances returned home to very ordinary lives, but were unable to escape the long shadows cast by the war. All in all, a very engaging read.
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This book confused me.
On one hand there was a modern day mystery to be solved, on the other a war time story. The two tales intertwined in a tangle of threads that needed unraveling.
Unfortunately, the way it was written, jumping between the two stories, just didn’t work for me as it has done in other books. Perhaps there was too little story established before it started jumping around? Perhaps there was just too much that didn’t seem believable/“real” (eg the young boy jumping in the car & the attitude of “keep him for the day, his parents won’t mind”)? 
I can’t pinpoint the exact reason, and others will undoubtedly find something that I missed, but I found the book confusing & my overall feeling was frustration. 
Disclosure:  I received an advance copy of this book  via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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Quirky and intriguing story switches between present day Solomon Farthing, desperately down-at-heel Edinburgh heir hunter trying to avoid penury by tracking down the lost heirs of Thomas Methven and his grandfather a Captain in the First World War trenches trying to keep his men safe as the fighting finally grinds to a halt in 1918. I found it a little difficult to follow in places and kept going back to re-read bits as the tenuous links between the two slowly unfolded but the characters and events were so well drawn I couldn’t put it down. Paulson-Ellis pays homage to Pat Barker’s Ghost Road at the end of the novel and I know it will appeal to her fans as it’s written in a similar vein in tribute to the ordinary soldiers who gave so much for their country.
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The Inheritance Of Solomon Farthing by Mary Paulson-Ellis is a contemporary and historical novel showing the legacy of war.
The novel is set in 1918 France and modern day Edinburgh. The reader sees the camaraderie between a group of soldiers. We see items and lives that link down the ages.
A modern day search for relatives reveals secrets that have been kept through the ages.
War alters people. There are different rules to play by.
The Inheritance Of Solomon Farthing was an epic read. I did not always follow the action but I think that is because I had an e-book. I recommend buying a paperback copy to be able to flick backwards to confirm links checking facts and action. It was a great read for the social historian in me.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.
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Slow paced, full of meaning and emotion - these are words that describe Pauldon-Ellis's novel. You feel the struggles of the past as well as the struggles of the present and even more so one can identify with the characters. Something I find very important when reading any book. You want to know what's coming next, and I found it hard to put the book down. 

Heir hunter Solomon Farthing in a race against the bureaucracy to find a living relative of a dead man's fortune. It feels like a puzzle where the reader is taken through different timelines to learn about the present. Momentos kept keeps the memory of the men (and the War) alive. The lives of the late Thomas Merhven and Solomon Farthing are intertwined and together with Solomon the reader ge to find out how and how much.
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