The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

The Daughter of Time by Josephine TeyThe Daughter of Time (Inspector Alan Grant #5) by Josephine Tey
Published: Touchstone Books (1951), eBook, 206pg
Source: Scribd
Genres: Fiction, Mystery

Voted greatest mystery novel of all time by the Crime Writers’ Association in 1990, Josephine Tey recreates one of history’s most famous—and vicious—crimes in her classic bestselling novel, a must read for connoisseurs of fiction, now with a new introduction by Robert Barnard.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 usurpers of England’s throne? 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 Plantagenet really was and who killed the Little Princes in the Tower. The Daughter of Time is an ingeniously plotted, beautifully written, and suspenseful tale, a supreme achievement from one of mystery writing’s most gifted masters.

The only thing I knew previous to this book about Richard III was that he was maybe in some Shakespeare play somewhere. Now I know LOTS of things! And most of those things make me sad.

Kudos to Josephine Tey for making me care about a dude who died hundreds of years ago, who I’d previously never even thought of, and who now I can’t stop thinking about because it’s so UNFAIR. He wasn’t a villain! He was popular and a good king and now just because some crappy guys bad-mouthed him after he died (and because Shakespeare wrote that play), everything thinks he murdered his young nephews.

It was hard to sleep the night I finished The Daughter of Time. SO UNFAIR.

This was my first Josephine Tey book! I’ve been meaning to read one of her mysteries for ages, particularly because she gets lumped into the Christie-Marsh-Sayer set. I wasn’t sure where to start, exactly, so when Scribd’s algorithm thing recommended The Daughter of Time, I decided to go for it without even reading the summary.

Good thing I didn’t read it, too. The Daughter of Time doesn’t seem like something I’d enjoy reading. The mystery is scholarly and about some historical person nobody cares about. The detective is bed-ridden and conducts his investigation through books and a research assistant. It’s a thinly-veiled historical treatise by the author! Nothing happens except a lot of discussions about motivation and facts.

Seems super boring, right? Well, it’s not.

I don’t know how she did it, but Tey took all the things that SHOULD have bored me to tears and turned them into a wonderful book. I was fascinated with the history of Richard III and his family, with Grant and his methods of detection, with the other characters (who don’t get nearly enough screen time), with EVERYTHING. I fairly blazed through The Daughter of Time, reading it all in one day. I just couldn’t put it down.

I’m not sure if this is necessarily the best place to start with the Grant mysteries (it’s #5 in the series), but I DO think it’s a good introduction to Josephine Tey’s writing style. She can make anything enthralling, especially the boring stuff! And I very much look forward to reading her other books.

Read: September 9, 2014

Quotable Quotes
“Weights meant nothing, apparently, to The Midget. She tossed mattresses around with the absent-minded grace of a plate spinner.” Pg 10

“It was shocking how little history remained with one after a good education.” Pg 31

“He was so disgusted that he flung the precious book on to the floor before he remembered that it was the property of a Public Library and his only by grace and for fourteen days.” Pg 78

8 thoughts on “The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey”

  1. And now you must read Elizabeth Peters’s The Murders of Richard III. Partly because it is a delight, but partly because it references The Daughter of Time.

    I AM WITH YOU ON EVERYTHING. My mother gave me this book when I was eleven or twelve, and I have never faltered since then in my loyalty to Richard III. And maybe I have a portrait of him in my apartment. Who can say if I do or don’t.

  2. I really need to go back and do a full JT catalog reread. I read them all during a couple of months probably 15 years ago. I think I’ll start with Brat Farrar. I remember that one being totally messed up (in a good way) but luckily I don’t remember everything about it.

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