Saturday, May 12, 2012

Merely Mystery Reading Challenge: The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

Thank you Project Gutenberg Australia! It's thanks to this site that I managed to find a copy of The Daughter of Time to read (my interest was piqued after reading an article about Josephine Tey). And this book does not disappoint.

Simply put, it's attempt by Inspector Grant to find out the truth behind the murders of the Princes in the Tower, and he ends up exonerating Richard III of the crime (although he is popularly thought to be the murderer). What is most interesting about this book is that it doesn't take place during that time itself, and in fact, Inspector Grant is confined to a hospital bed, which means that the book essentially uses research and third-parties to find information.

While I know nothing about British history (save what I read in historical fiction novels - which I take with a pinch of salt so large I may get kidney failure), the arguments in the book are quite easy to follow. There are references to people and places like the Tudors, War of the Roses and Scotland that the reader is expected to know, but the conversations do provide enough background information that those completely in the dark can follow along. So while I can't say that she makes a valid argument, I will say that she writes a very convincing and entertaining case.

Apart from being a mystery, the book also looks into the question of What is History? I've heard it said, that history is written by the winners (or if you're feminist, by men). And it's true that for every event, depending on what educational system you're in, you'll find a certain version of history. And let's not go into the different schools of thought like Revisionist History. But back to the topic; I think that it's interesting how a good portion of the book was spent on discussing the accuracy of history books (and the part the writers play).

Of course, my favourite from the book is "Tonypandy". It's a reference to the Tonypandy riots, but sounds as though it's a slang term.

All in all, this is a very interesting book. And a very unusual mystery one too. Although I'm reading it for the Merely Mystery Reading Challenge, I can't seem to put it into any of the categories. I think I shall just classify it as a "cozy" since it is tame (but then again, what can you expect when the protagonist spends the whole book in the hospital unable to move?)

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