Siria's Reviews > The Daughter of Time

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
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Jun 04, 07

bookshelves: 20th-century, british-fiction, historical-fiction, crime-fiction
Read in December, 2006

This book had the potential to really engage me--it deals with Richard III and all the various permutations of the Yorkist, Lancastrian and Tudor factions in late medieval England, and it's not badly written at all. Unfortunately, there were so many little things in it which frustrated me that I was completely soured to the author's argument--that Richard III was innocent of the murder of the Princes in the Tower--by the time I finished reading.

Though there are elements of her arguments with which I agree, even the main hook of her novel--that the most famous surviving portrait of Richard III shows the face of a man who could not possibly commit such a murder--is flawed. Every portrait ever made has been the portrait of not one person, but at least two--of the sitter and of the artist--and the practice of reading a person's character through their portrait is an interesting one, though it must always be seen as very dubious.

There are a number of other points in the book which show clearly that the author is not a historian. I'm sure, given what is stated in the book, that this is regarded as a plus point, but there are some facts with which it is worthwhile to become familiar before writing a book which purports to solve a centuries old mystery--for instance, stating that to die at the age of forty in the Middle Ages was to die young. Really, not so much. Similarly, Tey veers between being incredibly cynical and incredibly naive about political motivations. It all makes for an interesting, if ultimately unrewarding, read.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Charlene Vickers Oh, it's worse than that. Even in Tay's time it was suspected that the portrait of Richard in the National was not a faithful portrait. It wasn't known if it was painted in his lifetime, but there is evidence that the portrait was retouched in the 16th century to change the lower face.


Charlene Vickers Incidentally, forty wasn't really that old an age for men in those years. If a man made it to 18, he'd likely make it to 50; the danger years for males were in childhood. Between 50% and 90% didn't make it to 18!


message 3: by Ruozeh (new)

Ruozeh Thank you for your opnion. I read this novel years ago, and I regarded it as a door opened for me to step into a new stage where I could see history in a different angle. The other day I recommended this novel to my classmates and maybe I kind of belauded it. Later I thought to myself, you can't conclude that history is written by the winner only by a novel! Sometimes, subconsciously, I think and speak like I am still 14 years old. Those old ideas are still around. Your opnion is just in time. I need to read this novel again to find out how it shows that Tey is not a Historian. Sorry for my being wordy and my poor English. =}


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