The Daughter of Time
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2003
Oddly enough I've had Ms Tey's The Daughter of Time in my own library off and on for years, but just never got around to reading it. Usually it got given away whenever I moved. This time I actually took a moment to read the cover introduction and decided to buy it once more, fully resolved to reading it immediately. Once I got into it, I couldn't put it down. The lady justly deserves her reputation as a gifted writer.
As the commentator Robert Barnard opines at the beginning of the book, Tey's style is difficult to pigeon hole. I'd read one other book by her (Miss Pym Disposes) and this story was not remotely what I expected. The Daughter of Time (a title taken from an old proverb, "Truth is the daughter of time") is a wonderful medley of history, mystery, and theatrical. One can easily see the author's grounding in the world of the stage.
The entire story takes place in a hospital room and in the imagination of its occupant. The action, if you can call it that, comes through the introduction of information by various other characters who aid the invalid, an injured detective from Scotland Yard, in his attempt to discover the true story of Richard the Third-yes that nasty fellow who murdered his nephews in the Tower of London.....or did he? He pursues the evidence as he would a modern day crime, believing nothing until he can validate it by a primary source. Slowly but surely he builds his case.
From the beginning the author has complete control of her reader's attention-I read the entire book in about 2 hours. After creating the image of the hospital room and the ennui of its occupant, she wastes very little verbage on descriptions beyond creating the personalities of the walk on characters. Most of the focus is on solving the puzzle of the murders and the reality of the time in which all the historical figures lived. One almost has the sense of a stage with the main character addressing his audience with his thoughts when alone or his guests when they make appearances. A spotlight may fall on the actions of the past and their participants briefly, then dissolve as the story progresses to the next fact and how it fits into the tale of the young princes and their uncle. This makes it a rapid and enjoyable read. I'd love to see it done as a play. It's set might be very nearly as economical as that for Our Town.
A tightly written, well researched work of art. For anyone with an interest in history, mystery and/or the stage, this is the book for you.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2002
This novel is nore of a historical investigation than a murder mystery. The novel starts out with Inspector Alan Grant recovering form a broken leg. While perusing reading materials he is intrigued by England's last Plantagenet, King Richard III. Did he murder or arrange the assasination of his two young nephews? Most of the text which he reads say this is true. He wants to investigate further into the matter. Grant enlists the aid of an American researcher, Brent Carradine.
What they find is available to the public. This particular mystery is not so interesting in the conclusion; but how and why they reached their results. The information is available at all public libraries.
Miss Tey has apparent sentiments for Richard III. For myself it was refreshing to read such sentiments. In school years we were taught that King Richard was the "wicked uncle". While studying Shakespeare, there was THAT overdone line beaten like a dead horse (no pun or whatever intended). It was hard to reconcile the historical caricature with the picture on my mother's book jacket of the biography of Richard III. The drawing seemed to be of an ascetic fine featured and calm intellectual. The book invites us to reasearch and draw our own conclusions.
This may not be germane to the novel, but I appreciated Josephine Tey's portrayal of the American character. Many British writers characterize Americans as loud and slow witted. Carradine is portrayed as a bright and eager assistant.
I read this book in the course of 2 days during my beach vacation. It was time well spent.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 1998
This remarkable book deserves credit for not only being an intriguing story, but also a novel that is able to make the intricacies of history and medieval politics accessible to the reader. Instead of focusing on long and boring lists of sources, Tey goes into the whys of the mystery as well as the whats. Tey clearly challenges the long (and unfairly) established perception of Richard the III by asking one question: Why? Why would Richard have committed the crime? Why is he painted as villainous and grasping when all the evidence shows otherwise? Why did Tudor, who villified Richard mercilessly, never actually accuse Richard of the murder? Tey argues these points and backs them up superbly with evidence rather than hearsay from Tudor historians. She fully explores the motivations of the historians as well as Richard's supposed motives. Tey asks the questions which historians always ignore, such as Why the supposedly ruthless Richard would act with such restraint against proven enemies? These questions are every bit as valid as the traditional arguments, perhaps even more so, because they go into the very heart and nature of the deeds and the people involved
Incidentally, the title comes from the saying: "Truth is the daughter of time."
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 1999
"The Daughter of Time" is an excellent look into the reign of Richard III and the controversy surrounding the Princes in the Tower. Ms. Tey presents her analytical analysis under the guise of a modern detective story, but in truth this book is an historical analysis of Richard III, his life and his actions. Ms. Tey's presentation makes this work especially accessible to those who are normally turned off to history. When I read "The Daughter of Time" I was struck by her great charecterisations, and the conversations between Grant and Carradine are excellent. For all of you who are only familiar with Shakespeare's rather diabolical Richard III, this is the book that will cause you to re-assess your opinion of Richard III.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2009
This was a fascinating read by Josephine Tey. It is the story of Alan Grant, a policeman with Scotland Yard, who is laid up in the hospital after being injured on the job. A friend brings in a portrait of Richard III and he has a hard time believing that the man in the picture is the horrible, nephew murdering hunchback that he is familiar with. This sparks his interest and to relieve his boredom he takes up the 400+ year old case of Richard III - did he or did he not murder his nephews in the Tower? He and an American researcher working in the British Museum sort through all the evidence they can get and look at the case through a policeman's perspective - considering motives, opportunities, written accounts from the times, looking for breaks in the normal routine of the main players, etc. Grant becomes convinced that, based on the evidence, that Richard did not murder his nephews. In fact, he had absolutely nothing to gain and quite a bit to loose if he did.

It should be mentioned that Tey is writing a work of fiction here so I'm sure some things that didn't fit into her story were most likely left out. But that aside, it is an intriguing look at a man who history has made out to be a horrible monster. One of the points Grant realizes (and probably the biggest) is that, basically, history is written by the victors. Anything that might make them, the victors, look bad is going to be changed and anything that can discredit the vanquished will be trumped up as much as possible.

Some of the evidence/points that Grant comes across:

1. The accepted history of Richard III was written by Thomas More who was about 8 when Richard was killed AND he was writing for a Tudor King. He certainly wasn't going to publish anything that would make Henry VIII's father look bad. Also, a lot of his information apparently came from a certain John Morton, who hated Richard. (It should be noted that Shakespeare used More's account of Richard's life when writing his play Richard III, which most people today base their idea of Richard on.)

2. Richard had declared all of Edward's children illegitimate but there were still several heirs in line ahead of him and they continued to live happy lives during his reign. No reason to do away with just two of the heirs between him and the throne and leave all the others.

3. When Henry VII was having all of Richard's crimes laid out never once was the murder of the Princes mentioned. He wasn't even accused of it.

4. After Richard took the throne, Elizabeth Woodville came out of sanctuary, her daughters went to Richard's court, and she wrote to one of her Grey sons in France to come home because Richard would be kind to him. Would she have done this if she thought Richard killed her sons?

5. Henry VII, to bolster his claim to the throne after killing Richard, married Elizabeth of York, the sister of the Princes in the Tower. To make her claim to the throne valid, he had to make her (and ALL her siblings) legitimate. Once he did that, her brother was the rightful King again.

These are just a few of the points Grant considers when he finally comes to his verdict at the end. Some of the information Tey puts into her story certainly will make you think about what you accept as history, especially in a case such as Richard's. I do wish the story had been longer and more detail given about some of the evidence presented but I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Richard III.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2009
In reading the negative reviews here it is clear that there is a great deal of disregard for the facts those same reviewers seem so determined to champion. You will notice that The Daughter of Time is classified as fiction because that is what Tey intended. To criticize its lack of historical veracity is to require that all fiction adhere to some historical yardstick of verifiable fact. Leaving aside the impossibility of "verifying" history before allowing anyone to write stories about it, restricting literature to such ridiculous standards misses the very joy of creation--and disqualifies virtually all fiction ever written.

Those who criticize Tey for disregarding Alison Weir's stellar research might benefit from this bit of research: Weir was born in 1951, the year The Daughter of Time was published. Moreover, if I were to criticize Weir's characters and events as implausible, I would rightly be ridiculed for attempting to review her work as fiction instead of scholarship. How foolish would that be?

Having said this, I must admit this is probably my least favorite of Tey's novels. Once was enough. The others I can consume again and again, discovering fresh nuance and subtlety with each read. The Singing Sands and Brat Farrar are special favorites. The best thing about her small collection of mysteries is that each tells a unique story that transcends the genre's typical formulas. Nothing pleases the lover of mysteries more than the unexpected.

Tey wrote fiction, not history. The sloppy, reckless comments posted here reflect only on those who write them, but those critics should note that Tey still has them talking more than half a century after her death. Unless they consider their writing a bit more carefully, one doubts anyone will be reading them next month.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2000
I recently found myself at SMSU's library with a few hours to kill and an overwhelming desire to read some fiction. The SMSU library's collection was not created with fiction readers in mind. So this is what I wound up with.
For the most part, I found Tey's approach to solving the mystery of Richard III intriguing. It could have been much better, however. The "frame" of the recuperating police detective researching, with the aid of his hospital visitors, the documentation of the allegedly murderous king does not have enough character of its own to sustain a few hundred pages of rather dry, repetitious examination of history texts. And it does get repetitious, though I'll allow that the repetition was sometimes necessary to get the confusing assortment of nobility straight. (And this is considering that the book had two genealogy charts in the front, both of which had been annotated in pencil by some kind soul who recognized their vagueness.)
I thought Tey made a number of interesting points, both regarding the reputation of Richard III and the concept of intellectual integrity as it relates to the study of history. But I didn't need to be repeatedly bonked on the head with said points.
I would not recommend this book for anybody seeking a light tale of mystery fiction. I might, however, recommend this to a high school student or undergraduate who is studying Richard III, as it may provide a new point of view on the subject.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This book, under the guise of being a traditional crime story, unravels one of Britain's biggest mystery: who--if anyone--killed the Princes in the Tower? Shakespeare's play has led people to believe for nearly 400 years that it was King Richard III, perhaps literature's most enduring villain. Josephine Tey has done her homework on this, and the answers will astonish you. I must confess that I am biased, being a member of the Richard III Society; also, I have not checked each of her sources, so I am perhaps being lazy in assuming her facts are accurate. Nonetheless, this book is a perfect antidote if one has seen the superb version of Richard III with Ian McKellan(unashamed plug--I really love that movie!), and you can make up your own mind whether or not old Dickon was the most unfairly villified man in history. Also, being 200 pages, and a real page-turner at that, it is a quiet afternoon's read. Pick it up--I promise you won't be bored!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2002
I first read this book in 6th Grade based on a teacher's recommendation and loved it (thank you Mrs. Ewing). Ms. Tey's conclusions about the inaccuracy of history written by the victors stuck in my mind then and continue to influence my view of history today. The questions she raises about the murder of the princes in the Tower remind us that there are two sides to every story and that history as we know it is not necessarily factually accurate. I highly recommend this book and the other Alan Grant novels.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Truth is the daughter of time, and Alan Grant of Scotland Yard cannot abandon his relentless pursuit of truth. Even when he is flat on his back, convalescing in a hospital bed, staring at the ceiling and desperate for something to occupy his mind and his time.

To amuse him, a friend brings him prints of portraits from the National Gallery -- men, women, and children -- since Grant has a reputation for being able to read a person's character in his face. Grant is successful in distinguishing offenders from victims, until he reaches the last portrait. A judge? A soldier? A prince? he wonders. The name on the back of the print: Richard the Third.

Grant refuses to believe that the man's face can so belie his reputation as a murderer. And so, still on his back in bed, Grant becomes determined to find out the truth about Richard the Third for himself. With the help of those around him (characters who are also intriguing in their own right), he assembles information from historical documents to help him decide the 'case.'

It is remarkable enough for Tey to have put together the evidence she assembles for Richard the Third's case. Her research, logic, and common sense are impeccable. But to present that case in the hospital -- where the quiet, white, solemn setting is in stark contrast to the story of compassion, courage, suffering and betrayal that Grant's investigation reveals -- is inspired. Tey literally resurrects Richard and his story. Admiration, pity, and outrage are aroused in the reader for a man who has been dead for centuries.

And Grant, in his meticulous and painstakingly logical way, arrives at a conclusion that you are sure must close the book on the question of Richard's innocence forever.

All this (not to mention the subtle commentary on what is truth) in just over 200 pages. A book worth reading and re-reading.
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