S.A. Bolich's Reviews > The Daughter of Time

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
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May 30, 12

Read in May, 2012

I have long been interested in the Wars of the Roses and Richard III, who seemed to have gotten a bum rap from history. If history is truly the daughter of time, then Tey has done a wonderful job of extricating Richard's reputation from the hands of the chroniclers who were swept along by the flood of it in time's endless and relentless rush toward the future.

This is a mystery, and purely an intellectual one, being devoid of guns and chases and shoot-em-up finishes. Alan Grant is a Scotland Yard detective laid up in hospital with a bum leg and bored out of his mind until a friend dumps a load of portraits on him to amuse him. Being proud of his ability to read faces, Grant is shocked to discover that a man he instantly categorizes as a judge or a great administrator turns out to be one of the most notorious murderers in history. And the hunt is on to find the truth of the infamous Richard III, who killed the little princes in the Tower, his own nephews. Or did he?

I just reread this book after many years and it was as good the second time as it was the first. Tey is relentless in deconstructing the web of myth and outright malice built around Richard's reputation by his usurping successor, Henry VII. She makes a good case for who might have been the real murderer, and a convincing job of proving that the boys were alive after Richard was killed at Bosworth. Her contempt for the "authority" on the subject, Sir Thomas More, is deep and clear, as is her incredulity for the gullibility and lack of deductive reasoning applied by some historians to the material they are supposedly experts in. She is not the first to delve in and try to clear Richard's name, but she is probably the most entertaining.

My only quibble with the book is stylistic, in that Tey seems averse to dialogue tags and it is sometimes difficult to tell who is speaking even in a conversation of two people. That does not at all detract from the pleasure of the read, however, as the content is so darn interesting.

I have not read anything else by Tey but I certainly will be looking out for her work as I poke through used bookstores. I may even go shopping for them, though I am not a great mystery fan. I like an intelligent writer who can teach me something, so here's to "The Daughter of Time" and its author.
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