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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey This book was not at all what I had expected. After having this book pop up as a recommendation in several Plantagenet arenas, I decided that I had to have it. It is not, however, really a novel about Richard III in the traditional sense.

I was disappointed at the outset of this novel when the first several chapters were about Grant, a detective who is laid up in the hospital with a broken leg. (Did they truly keep patients in the hospital for weeks with a broken leg at the time this was written?) I was not much interested in the characters of Grant, Marta, or anyone else who was introduced at this time and wondered why the book had come with such high recommendations.

Soon I realized that Grant was to investigate, as fully as he could from his hospital bed, the mystery of Richard as the murderer of his nephews, the Princes in the Tower. After studying a picture of Richard III, Grant decides that he has the face of a judge not a criminal and is determined to fill his time while bedridden with learning as much about the man as possible.

Brent Carradine is introduced as Grant's partner in this investigation, and most of the remainder of the novel is dialog between the two of them weighing different sources of contemporary information regarding Richard. The revisionist argument for Richard's innocence is very clearly laid out through Grant and Brent researching his case. They quite thoroughly consider each person involved before and after Richard's death and become irate that accepted history could be so obviously distorted. Their conversations reminded me of similar rants that my poor husband has had to endure whenever I read about Richard.

Tey also includes other quips about historical falsehoods that are readily accepted as fact which helps aid the reader in believing that we could be wrong about poor Richard as well. So the book that I was anxious to read but disappointed in at the beginning ended up captivating me in the end. I read it within 24 hours. Though I was familiar with the information presented, I think that it would be a great introduction to anyone who is interested in the Ricardian revisionist theories. This is a novel but reads like well written non-fiction, an excellent presentation of Richard's character and the case against him.