Tuesday, June 28, 2011

232 (2011 #37). The Daughter of Time

by Josephine Tey,
read by Derek Jacobi

I was helping my son pack up his stuff at college about a month ago, and, lacking suitcase space, this was one of the few books he decided to keep.  He said it was good and he thought I might like it.  My university library owns the audiobook, so it seemed like a good time to listen.

Scotland Yard inspector Alan Grant is stuck in the hospital (after being injured in the previous book in the series), so he uses his free time to evaluate 500-year-old evidence in one of the most intriguing mysteries in history-- who really murdered (or had murdered) the "Princes in the Tower," the sons and heirs of Edward IV?  Was it really their uncle, Richard III, or was it their brother-in-law, Henry VII? (Or were they even murdered?) Grant gets friends, hospital staff, and acquaintances, including an American researcher at the British Museum (the "B. M.") to help him in his quest to find preferably-primary sources, and uses critical thinking, logic and reasoning to come to his conclusions.  Keep in mind, though, that Grant's conclusions aren't necessarily the truth, either--no one knows what really happened.

My son was a history major, and I believe the reason he read the book was that it illustrates the premise that history is written by the victors, and how certain versions of events come to be widely accepted as the truth, despite a lack of evidence.  The title is from a quote by Francis Bacon: "Truth is rightly named the daughter of time, not of authority."  Josephine Tey (a pen name, along with Gordon Daviot, for Scottish author Elizabeth Mackintosh) also touches on some other historical myths, such as the story of the 1910 Tonypandy Riot (I love that word Tonypandy!).

I was already familiar with the Princes in the Tower in fiction, from Philippa Gregory's The White Queen, about their mother, Elizabeth Woodville.  I love historical fiction, partly because it encourages me to read some nonfiction about the same era or event. I found that to be true of this book as well, once again borrowing Alison Weir's The Princes in the Tower to check for more facts. Although The Daughter of Time is not strictly speaking a historical mystery, it has made me interested in that subgenre.

Well-known British actor Derek Jacobi spoke a little too fast for the audiobook, and employed outlandish accents (not in the text) for many characters, particularly female ones.  Both the audiobook and a paperback version have helpful family tree charts for the major characters.

© Amanda Pape - 2011

[I borrowed the audiobook from my university library and the paperback from my son.]

No comments:

Post a Comment