The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
Series: Inspector Alan Grant #5
Published by Dell on 1968 (first published 1951)
Genres: Vintage Mystery
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Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant is intrigued by a portrait of Richard III. Could such a sensitive face actually belong to a heinous villain — a king who killed his brother's children to secure his crown? Grant seeks what kind of man Richard was and who in fact killed the princes in the tower.
I picked up The Daughter of Time at the local used bookstore a year or so ago. i had no idea what it was about and had never read anything by Josephine Tey before, but it’s one of those mysteries – the ones that make it onto the “best” lists, the ones that any true mystery lover should read.
The title refer to a quote from Francis Bacon: “Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.” It’s the same idea as history is written by the victor. Not all “history” is strictly truth, it’s a version someone has told that has stuck. I wish I knew more about British history, particularly Richard III, or that I had read Shakespeare’s play. If I go back to read this again, I may do a little research first. That being said, it is truly an enjoyable book on its own.
Our detective, Alan Grant, is laid up in the hospital and a friend, Marta, brings him a bunch of pictures including one of Richard III to help soothe his boredom. He becomes fascinated with the portrait, not seeing in the face the murderer that Richard III is known to be.
King Richard III by an unknown artist, late 16th century. Image from the National Portrait Gallery http://www.npg.org.uk/
What follows is a mystery unlike any I’ve read, at least as far as I can remember. Grant, along with the help of a young historian, sets out to learn the truth about whether Richard was truly responsible for his nephews’ deaths. We never leave the hospital room, no one is ever in danger, the players in the mystery are all long-dead, but it still grabbed my attention. It’s a fascinating story and Tey does an excellent job at presenting the evidence. It’s also a good reminder that not all facts can be taken at face value. I don’t know if he killed the nephews or not, but I don’t know that it matters to this particular story.
I don’t pass mysteries onto my mother very often, but I think this is one that I’ll send her way. It’s that good. Really, it’s amazing how engrossing a story it manages to be for nothing really happening, except lots and lots of research and reasoning. I did get a little confused with all the names and positions at times, but there are several times when Grant reviews everything which always helped straighten me out.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
We visited Kenyon College again yesterday. The Admissions office is in Ransom Hall, named after Kenyon poet John Crowe Ransom. Across the top of the building are a set of crows, the work of Peter Woytuk, a 1980 Kenyon graduate who is considered one the foremost sculptors of animal forms in the world. I wanted to share a photo of the crows, so I found a crow story to go along with them today. “The Crow” is a Polish fairy tale that Andrew Lang included in his Yellow Fairy Book, 1889.
A king has three beautiful daughters, although the youngest of them is the most loveable. And as we know, the youngest is almost always the hero/heroine of a fairy tale. While walking in a garden near the ruins of a nearby castle, the youngest princess comes upon a crow that has been badly wounded. Noticing that the princess pities it, the crow reveals to her that he is a prince enchanted into taking the form of a crow for seven years. However, should the princess agree to live in the one remaining habitable room of the castle and sleep on the golden bed each night without making a sound, she might free him. He warns her that if she does not obey this, his suffering will be doubled.
The princess agrees and moves into the ruined castle without hesitation. Every night at midnight, wicked ghosts appear and threaten her until dawn, yet in spite of her terror she makes no sound. Each morning the visitor disappear when the cock crows. The crow visits her daily, telling her that his suffering is less and less. One of her visiting sisters attempts to sleep in the golden bed with the youngest princess, yet is so terrified by the apparitions she screams; the youngest princess insists on being alone after this incident. The princess continues on with her silence.
After two years, the crow tells her he will soon be free of his spell, as seven years is almost over. However, before he can regain his form, the princess must find work as a servant for one year. She succeeds, but is treated poorly by her new master despite her youth and beauty. As the year comes to an end, the prince regains his human form and marries the princess. They return to live in the ruined castle, which has now been fully restored. “And there they lived for a hundred years, a hundred years of joy and happiness.”
Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.
My Favorite.. is a weekly meme hosted by Maureen’s Books. In this meme we share every week something we love with each other. Because let’s face it.. The world can be a dark place and it’s time to share something positive. For more info: My Favorite Meme.
I don’t use bookmarks. I’m one of those monsters who dogears the pages. The cute fuzzy kind of monster.
I do own lots of bookmarks though. Below are some of my favorites. My brother brought the one on the right for me from one of his vacations. Amber made the one in the middle years ago, and I bought the one on the right for myself. (Sorry the picture isn’t great but I was in a hurry.)
What’s your favorite bookmark? Join in at Maureen’s Books.