e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

30 Day Book Challenge – day 9: A book I’ve read more than once

I don’t often read books more than once, but lately re-enjoyed one I’d read years ago.

The book is Josephine Tey‘s Daughter of Time. It was first published in 1951, but in my 77661opinion has aged well and is still relevant and fun.

A detective, Alan Grant, is convalescing in hospital and is bored. A friend suggests that he puts his skills to work on a historical crime. Grant selects Richard III and the question of whether or not he murdered the princes in the Tower.

With friends doing any actual legwork, Grant reassesses the evidence and comes to the conclusion that Richard has suffered from a bad press and was probably not as evil as history (and Shakespeare) has painted him.

I think that today there’s enough doubt about Richard’s wickedness for most people to regard him as possibly maligned. But this is a recent happening and he has been held up as an example of evil for centuries.

As a revelation of the effect of ‘PR’ this book is shocking. Those who get to write history (not Richard who died before he could write his version) get the last word and can condemn someone to be blamed for something horrible that they never did. I doubt if Richard III’s reputation is the only one that has come down to us distorted, and it certainly won’t be the last.

As a work of scholarship the book is light and easy to read but appears to be historically accurate. As a detective story it works well with several suspects and an satisfying ending. Would that all history books were so easy to read.

I think I can safely say this is one of my all-time favourites and I may well read it again sometime.

Cover art from Goodreads.

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6 thoughts on “30 Day Book Challenge – day 9: A book I’ve read more than once

  1. Su Leslie on said:

    Mine too. I read it while I was at high school, then again a couple of years ago. A gap of thirty odd years, and I still loved it.

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  2. I’ve read that too and it’s a good book which has been very influential in rehabilitating Richard III (even before he arose out of the car park!) but I have also read The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir (non-fiction) which if I remember correctly casts doubt on some of Josephine Tey’s conclusions. But that just goes to make it all the more interesting! And Sharon Penman’s novel The Sunne in Splendour also very much takes Richard’s side.

    Josephine Tey was a great discovery for me too. I once listed her book the Franchise Affair as one of my top ten favorite novels! I recommend that one too.

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    • I doubt if, after all this time, we’ll ever know the truth about Richard. As you say the debate is interesting. Thank you for reminding me of The Franchise Affair. I read it a long time ago, but really enjoyed it and I can remember it quite well – unusual for me and detective stories which I tend to forget quite quickly – I guess that says something about the quality of Josephine Tey’s writing. I’m not surprise you listed it as a favourite. Is it now less of a favourite with you?

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  3. Chris Mills on said:

    Reblogged this on Tales From the Landing Book Shelves and commented:
    I’ve shared this post, from a great blog that I follow, as it’s nice to see that someone else is a fan of a book previously featured on The Landing (http://talesfromthelandingbookshelves.com/2012/06/25/a-centuries-old-mystery-josephine-tey-and-richard-iii/).
    Maybe one day I’ll get around to a few more Josephine Tey re-reads!

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