12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A novel polemic,
This review is from: The Daughter Of Time (Paperback)
Certainly a polemical novel. What a curate`s egg this is. I`d long heard of Tey`s two most famous books, this and The Franchise Affair, and have at last read one of them. I am very glad I have, chiming as it does with my burgeoning interest in all things medieval.
Detective Grant is in a hospital bed after an accident, doesn`t fancy the books at his bedside, so - after an actress friend Marta brings him a motley set of photos of notorious people for him to study - he fixates on the only known portrait of Richard III, reads up on his history, and promptly sets out to prove Richard`s innocence of the murder of the princes in the Tower. Or rather, Ms Tey does her utmost to prove it to the reader.
It all depends on how much the reader knows of the period, how much one cares, and how much prejudiced polemic a reader can take in a novel.
I thoroughly enjoyed the early chapters of this 200-odd-page novel, and Tey could certainly write, with a witty, deft turn of phrase. But keeping all the many and various characters of the fifteenth century tale in one`s mind and memory proves a tough task, and ultimately the book simply becomes weighed down by too many names, not to mention the slight repetitiveness of so much explication of historical persons, events and niceties.
By the end, I knew the conclusion Grant would come to (if not its exact details) and found the last chapter or two a touch anti-climactic.
Tey`s character descriptions in this otherwise very readable novel are well drawn, from the women who look after Grant in hospital to the young American he gets to scour the British Museum for evidence, one Brent Carradine. I shall no doubt read more of this unusual writer, and I do recommend reading this admittedly unique novel, though don`t expect anything other than a biased history lesson disguised as a novel.
Tey may well be right about Richard`s innocence (she/Grant makes a convincing case)
and it made me want to find out more - particularly living in York, as I do at present! She certainly gives Richard`s successor Henry VII a lousy press, as well as Richard`s first biographer - or was he? - the `sainted Thomas More` as she repeatedly and sarcastically calls him (a man I`ve never liked much, so that`s fine by me).
Perhaps this intriguing novel is worth four stars rather than the measly three I`ve awarded it, but it more than deserves those three. I`d happily recommend it, with the above reservations.