Jessie J's Reviews > A Cup of Tey: Miss Pym Disposes/The Daughter of Time

A Cup of Tey by Josephine Tey
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May 31, 2011

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bookshelves: mystery
Read in June, 2011

It's interesting what a different pairing can do. In this book are two Josephine Tey books: "The Daughter of Time," which I'd read before, and enjoyed, and "Miss Pym Disposes," which I hadn't read. Reading the two together brought to the foreground some aspects of Tey's writing that I never noticed before and that really...annoyed me.

The first is the idea that you can judge someone's character by looking at their face. Ludicrous. I never noticed it before, but it is a key element in these two books. OF COURSE, she's writing in a different time, but there is one bit of dialogue to the effect of "it surprised me into looking like a goggle-eyed negro." By itself, I would've just bumped over the quote, but it is indicative of this whole idea of being able to determine if someone is a criminal or not by looking at their features. I expected phrenology and Jewish phenotyping next.

The second idea is that an amateur is so much better at determining something about a case or a person than a professional. In "Miss Pym," the main character is an armchair psychologist who writes a book and becomes an "expert." In "Daughter," a police detective becomes an armchair historian and makes "discoveries" about Richard III that the masses were ignorant of, but which professionals had known for centuries.

I have to say that I still enjoy "Daughter of Time," because I've always had a soft spot for Richard III. I love the deliciously evil character of Shakespeare's, but when you know who Shakespeare was writing for, you realize that was all hooie, anyway. Poor Richard.

I suppose the jury is still out on Tey. I have read other books by her, and enjoyed them, but now I'm wondering if I would a second time.
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