Series: Inspector Alan Grant #5
on first published 1951
Genres: British mystery, Historical Mystery
Source: my personal collection
Richard III reigned for only two years, and for centuries he was villified as the hunch-backed wicked uncle, murderer of the princes in the Tower. Josephine Tey's novel The Daughter of Time is an investigation into the real facts behind the last Plantagenet king's reign, and an attempt to right what some believe to be the terrible injustice done to him by the Tudor dynasty.
Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the Wicked Uncle of history. Could such a sensitive, noble face actually belong to one of the world's most heinous villains - a venomous hunchback who may have killed his brother's children to make his crown secure? Or could Richard have been the victim, turned into a monster by the the Tudors?
Grant determines to find out once and for all, with the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, what kind of man Richard III really was and who killed the Princes in the Tower.
The Daughter of Time will make you question everything you thought you knew about Richard III, the humpbacked British king notorious for usurping his elder nephew’s throne and putting the young “Princes in the Tower” to death. Tey presents her case for Richard’s rehabilitation within the framework of a mystery novel, as the hospitalized Inspector Alan Grant, bored out of his skull by forced inactivity, becomes intrigued by a portrait of Richard III and engages a young American researcher to explore source documents in a search for the truth. While Tey’s conclusions have been challenged by later scholarship, she makes a powerful case for Richard’s innocence and in the process, sheds a light on the English monarchy at the end of the Wars of the Roses — and the beginning of the Tudor dynasty.
This has been one of my favorite books since I first read it in high school. It’s the book that introduced me to Josephine Tey (thank you, Mom, for leaving it about for me to read!), and it’s still my favorite Inspector Grant mystery. The Daughter of Time functions on several levels: as a mystery, as history, and as an example of both the process of scholarly research, and the ways in which what we think of as “history” are shaped by who writes that history. For that reason, I think it’s a great book for high school and/or college students, particularly those studying British history or Shakespeare’s history plays. When we were homeschooling, and Robin and I were studying British history in 8th and 9th grade, I had her listen to the audiobook as well as read Shakespeare’s Richard III. Several years later, I overheard her expounding on Richard, Henry VI, and the princes in the tower to one of her younger cousins, so she obviously absorbed and retained quite a bit of it! (And it remains, incidentally, one of her favorite books as well.)
If you prefer audio books, Derek Jacobi’s narration is excellent, though his American accent (for Grant’s young research assistant) is perhaps a hair overdone.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Cruisin' Thru the Cozies 2016