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on April 19, 2002
Never having heard of Josephine Tey, I purchased this book and another, "Brat Farrar" on the strength of the description.
I have since read several other of the Tey collection, and I find them wonderful. Not a "mystery" in the usual sense, this is a novel which contains a so-called mystery. In other of her works, her Inspector Grant follows more conventional lines of investigating crimes. If you like one of Tey's books, I think
you will like them all. I highly recommend them.
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on March 25, 2002
What happened to Richard III's nephews? Josephine Tey takes a look at the tales of Richard, his nephews, and what happened at the Tower of London. Starting with the Richard of Shakespeare and Thomas More, Tey, (through her bed-ridden detective Grant) dissects the stories of Richard III and finds a few problems with the Richard III most people are familiar with. Whether this revisionist view of Richard stands up to scrutiny is up to those with more background in this area than me, but I thoroughly enjoyed Tey's portrayal of the search for truth in the face of legend.
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on August 22, 2002
I first read this book 25 years ago and after re-reading it recently, I realize that the view of history as put forth by "Daughter of Time", is the view I have carried with me for the last 25 years. After reading the above reviews, I wanted to put my 2 cents in and say that this is the BEST of the Tey books. It is a mystery for history lovers and leaves an impression that other "light reading" does not. Josephine Tey is unfortunately gone from us, but this book remains a True Classic.
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on August 2, 2000
I'm a Ricardian. I don't think Richard did his nephews in. Neither do I think that this book is a classic. It has a rather simple premise, and Tey seems completely set upon raising Richard III to a sort of divine pedestal. The guy had flaws. He was responsible for beheading people, and was a king. He is one of my favorite characters in history, and Tey tries, she does...but it falls flat. Carradine got on my nerves as well. Sorry.
If you want an admittedly romanticized (but far more interesting) book about Richard III, I would wholeheartedly suggest "The Sunne in Splendour". It is a finely crafted novel in which Sharon Kay Penman goes to show you that it is indeed very possible that Richard III was not the brute Will Shakespeare makes him out to be. Penman stays well within the historical boundaries (her reasearch is almost without boundaries).
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on February 10, 2002
What thoughtful reader hasn't experienced Shakespeare's Richard III and wondered about the accuracy of the Bard's portrayal? Thus did Josephine Tey, near the close of her authorial career, delve into some of the lost nooks and crannies of English history in an effort to recover "the real Richard."
The well-known hurdle for all would-be Ricardians is, of course, the utter absence of source material contemporary to Richard's reign, and most of all anything that discusses the fate of the "princes in the Tower." All that is generally counted as "authoritative," it turns out, is the product of Tudor dynasty information factories. Tey, however, very likely had in her possession the writings of Sir Clements Markham, a late Victorian-era civil servant, whose careful revisionist argument is here unfolded in a lively, compelling narrative of incremental discovery.
Prompted by a reproduction of a famous portrait of Richard, Tey's laid-up sleuth, with the help of an American researcher, marshalls from his bed an archival assault on the estimable Sir Thomas More, Henry (the VII) Tudor, and the entire phalanx of worthies who have reported, for the last half a millennium, that Richard was the demonic crookback murderer of Shakespeare's characterization. Happily for us, there's more (sic) to the story than the traditional record, and those not already sucked into the revisionist Ricardian argument may very well be converted. Tey's engaging "fiction" is not only a great boon to all Ricardians--who, with Richard III Societies on both sides of the pond, must surely win hundreds if not thousands of new converts yearly as a result of this 50-year-old work--but the perfect place to begin your own exploration of this great historical proto-conspiracy.
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on September 16, 1999
A pleasant little historical screed, Daughter of Time seems to be in love with revisionism for its own sake. To the detriment of its thesis, it presents all arguments against Richard III's villainy as good arguments, and all arguments for his villainy as bad arguments. While the factual arguments set out in the book, such as the unreliability of More's account of Richard III's reign and the lateness of the accusations against Richard, are persuasive, Tey also places great reliance upon her (and her characters, Grant and Carradine's) ability to judge a man's character and motives from his face and his actions after 400 years. This kind of "a person like X would never have done Y" argument counts for beans with me -- people are way too complex for such simple and subjective judgments.
When it is not writing in full-out polemic mode, Tey's dialogue is urbane and fun to read. If she had only had the sense to separate the good arguments for her thesis from the bad ones, she would have been convincing as well as entertaining.
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on August 17, 1999
This book's strong point, as other readers have pointed out, is that it attacked what was then universally presumed & taught about Richard III's role in the murders of his nephews. It is indeed instructive and illuminating to think about all the ways historians can blur, misrepresent, and misunderstand the facts in a case. My problem with it is that Tey herself displays an egregious, fervent bias toward all things monarchist-Protestant-English, to the point that as another reader noted, Thomas More is constantly referred to, sneeringly, as "sainted" (really, is Thomas More the villain we want to malign here?). Also, in the course of making her point about the fallibility of historians, she laboriously attacks various stories of Scottish and Irish rebellion against English tyranny as being factually untrue-- as if to say that because SOME such stories may not be historically accurate, ALL incidents of the English oppression of the Scots and Irish people are nothing more than scurrilous lies. (the implication being, "Can you believe those stupid, inferior Scots & Micks we English have to put up with?") Accordingly, she maintains a smug, disdainful, condescending attitude toward "lower-class" characters throughout the book-- not surprising considering the time it was written, but unpleasant to read nonetheless. Finally, her pro-Richard argument, while quite convincing, is put forth so repetitively that it's like being hammered over the head-- okay, okay, WE GET IT already, Josephine! Sheesh! I've never seen a detective character in a mystery novel who behaved in a less professional, detached, detective-like way. This is not so much a mystery as it is a fascinating but one-dimensional screed.
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on September 20, 1998
I enjoyed this novel very much and feel that the English lady from New York and the person who argues for Richard's guilt are missing the point of the novel. Tey's argument is that not only are sources like More not very reliable, but all the evidence argues that Richard simply did not fit the profile of the murderer. In answer to the English Woman, I think that she, not Tey is being naive in assuming that since competition for the throne was fierce, all the victors must be ruthless. History clearly records that King Stephen, only a few centuries earlier released his cousin Maude from any form of imprisonment even though she was a crown rival with a better claim to the throne and one that had rebelled against him. King John also, supposedly one of the most ruthless kings in history, confined, not murdered his throne rival, Eleanor of Brittany. The reader who claimed that the evidence points to Richard as the murderer has failed to understand Tey's point that the murder, done in such a fashion, would not have been illogical, but irrational for the cold blooded monster painted in history books. By having the princes disappear, instead of poisoning them and claiming a fever or keeping them until they were in their twenties and then executing them, Richard would have gained the worst of both worlds. He would have been suspected as a murderer, yet would still not have been cleared as sole claimant to the throne. Also, if he was so determined to claim the throne, he would have also murdered Edward of Warwick, his nephew, who had an equally good claim to the throne.
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on April 17, 1998
For all of you that like English History with a twist of mystery than you will love the novella, THE DAUGHTER OF TIME by Josephine Tey. This is a mystery novel that deals a lot with English History and Old Kings and stuff, whic is something that I just don't mesh with. On a scale of one to ten I would have to rate this book a three. The reading was a bit hard, and I often found myself counting the pages until I was finished. Though I usually love mystery, this one was definitely a disappointment on countless levels. The book was written well and I think that if I had been a tad bit older and wiser on English History that I may have enjoyed it more. Overall I think that I would personally have to give the book two thumbs down.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 8, 2003
This is a wonderful genre bending book...part mystery, part history. Written by Scotswoman Elizabeth MacIntosh, who wrote under the pen name Josephine Tey, it was first published in 1951. It is tragic that the author died in 1952 and was never to know the pleasure that this book would bring to generations of readers and that the Mystery Writers of America would ultimately rank it fourth among the one hundred best mysteries ever written.
The title of the book is derived from a historical source, as it is attributable to Sir Francis Bacon, "For truth is rightly named after the daughter of time, and not of authority." The book itself is not a traditional mystery but rather an application of deductive reasoning to an actual historical event. The event in question is the murder of the princes in the tower, sons of King Edward IV, allegedly by their uncle, Richard III, who eventually usurped the English throne after the death of his brother. It has been widely held that Richard III did, indeed, murder the two young princes, his nephews, in order to secure his claim to the throne.
The reader is introduced to Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant, who is hospitalized and recovering from injuries sustained in the line of duty. While convalescing, he becomes intrigued by a picture of a portrait of Richard III, a likeness with which he is unfamiliar. Grant is puzzled that someone with such a sensitive face could have been such a monster as to murder his two nephews in cold blood. So, our intrepid Inspector decides that he will reconsider the evidence upon which such a dastardly assumption has been based. With the help of an American researcher doing the necessary legwork, Grant compiles enough archival historical fact that incrementally helps him formulate a new theory as to who actually may have murdered the princes in the tower.
This analysis and reformulation is done as though it were being argued to a jury. Indeed, so persuasive is Inspector Grant through the application of some insightful deductive reasoning and clever dialogue that the reader comes away thinking that Grant has solved one of the most intriguing historical mysteries of all time. This is certainly an unusual book conceptually but one that succeeds brilliantly. It should appeal to those readers who enjoy having a mystery unraveled, as well as to those who harbor a love of English history. Bravo!
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