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Friday, August 19, 2005

Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

As the old saying goes: 'this is an oldie but a goodie'. Daughter of Time is an excellent defence of Richard III and a much more entertaining way of learning some history than reading a dry textbook.

Tey's hard-working detective, Grant, lies in bed in hospital at the beginning of the book with a leg injury. Bored and missing his police work, when his bright actress friend, Marta, gives him some portraits to study concerning historical mysteries, he becomes intrigued. The portrait of Richard III surprises him. He has long been told, like the rest of us, that Richard was a monster who would do anything to claim the throne including murdering the little Princes, his own brother's children.
When he looks at the portrait, however, he sees the face of a 'judge', someone of integrity.

The two nurses who are entertaining characters - the bossy 'Amazon' and the timid 'Midget' - agree with him and decide to help him discover the truth about Richard. One of them lends him a book by Sir Thomas More, the book on which the legend about Richard was based. As he reads this he remembers that More lived during Henry VIII's time and never knew Richard at all. He determines to discover the truth.

Marta enlists the aid of her young American friend, Carradine, who wants to make his name by writing a historical book. Carradine loves all this and Grant's discussions with him help him greatly in his development of a new theory about Richard.

Although Tey's detective is ill which rather limits the action in this book, she manages to fill the novel with interesting characters and tell an excellent story.

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