Thursday, July 01, 2010

Daughter of Time

The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages.

Grant lay on his high white cot and stared at the ceiling. Stared at it with loathing. He knew by heart every last minute crack on its nice clean surface. He had made maps of the ceiling and gone exploring on them; rivers, islands, and continents. He had made guessing games of it and discovered hidden objects; faces, birds, and fishes. He had made mathematical calculations of it and rediscovered his childhood; theorems, angles, and triangles. There was practically nothing else he could do but look at it.

What is a man like Inspector Grant supposed to do in bed all day long? He's got a broken leg. And he's bored, bored, bored...until he becomes interested in Richard III. In the 'mystery' of what happened to Richard's two nephews. Grant reads quite matter-of-factly in the history books about this murder. But something doesn't feel right to Grant. He's looking for answers. He's looking to investigate this case for himself. What really happened to those two young boys? Why did Richard III get the blame? And why has history turned this man--who was quite well liked at the time--into a vicious monster?

I loved this one. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. Grant is a great narrator. You might think it would be boring since a) Grant never leaves his bed, let alone his room b) the mystery is a historical one, an academic one. But. This book is anything but boring! Hate reading history books? So does Inspector Grant! So whether you love or hate "history" I think you'll find much to appreciate in The Daughter of Time.

One of the reasons I loved The Daughter of Time was I thought it was unique. The book is about a man becoming fascinated with history, with a mystery within history. And how he goes about "solving" the case since he can't very well go about interviewing the witnesses and investigating the crime scene. Most of his research is done by reading. But he doesn't accept everything he reads. No, he questions everything. He thinks, really thinks, about everything closely. And I loved that. I loved how Inspector Grant pulls others in on this investigation. I loved how enthusiastic everyone becomes while 'working' on this case.

I enjoyed Josephine Tey's The Man in the Queue. I enjoyed this one even more. Grant is a great character. (I just love him!) And Tey is a great writer. I love her descriptions, her observations. She has quite a few to share on books, on authors.
Did no one, any more, no one in all this wide world, change their record now and then? Was everyone nowadays thirled to a formula? Authors today wrote so much to a pattern that their public expected it. The public talked about "a new Silas Weekley" or "a new Lavinia Fitch" exactly as they talked about "a new brick" or "a new hairbrush." They never said "a new book by" whoever it might be. Their interest was not in the book but in its newness. They knew quite well what the book would be like. (14)
Here is his description of Silas Weekley's "new" book, The Sweat and the Furrow:
The Sweat and the Furrow was Silas Weekley being earthly and spade-conscious all over seven hundred pages. The situation, to judge from the first paragraph, had not materially changed since Silas's last book: mother lying-in with her eleventh upstairs, father laid-out after his ninth downstairs, eldest son lying to the Government in the cow-shed, eldest daughter lying with her lover in the hayloft, everyone else lying low in the barn. The rain dripped from the thatch, and the manure steamed in the midden. Silas never omitted the manure. It was not Silas's fault that its steam provided the only uprising element in the picture. If Silas could have discovered a brand of steam that steamed downwards, Silas would have introduced it. (13)
You might also be interested in: The White Queen by Philippa Gregory, The Tudor Rose: A Novel of Elizabeth of York by Margaret Campbell Barnes, Richard III by William Shakespeare, The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham, Sent by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Other reviews of Daughter of Time: Booklust, Things Mean A Lot, Shelf Love, Adventures of An Intrepid Reader, Between the Covers.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Anonymous said...

Already?! Thanks for reviewing it so quickly! - loved the review! and loved the excerpts you chose (I'd add an exclamation mark here as well, but even I think it would be just a tad "too much":)). L.

Aarti said...

I really enjoyed this one, too! I LOVE the way she proves that sometimes historical "fact" isn't really fact at all.