Book Club Spotlight – The Daughter of Time

Cover for The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. On a stark red background a portrait of Richard III peaks out from a decorated frame with a mild and uncertain frame.

With the British Royal Family gossip mill recently abuzz, and as the sun sets on Women’s History Month, now is the perfect opportunity to visit Josephine Tey’s 1951 novel The Daughter of Time, and take a step back to the 15th century to investigate the murderous reputation of Richard III. Holding the top spot in the British Crime Writers’ Association’s list of Top 100 Crime Novels of All TimeThe Daughter of Time is quite the influential novel, leading in part to the discovery of Richard III’s burial site in 2012. Like Nebraska’s own Mignon G. Eberhart, Tey wrote during what is called the “Golden Age of Crime Fiction”, and her novels continue to surprise and delight readers.

Hospitalized from his latest case, Inspector Alan Grant is at a loss for entertainment. Having counted the ceiling tiles and studied the comings and goings of his nurses, he is growing restless. It’s not until a friend suggests he attempt to solve a cold case from his hospital bed does inspiration strike. Examining a portrait of the late King Richard III, Grant (a fan of physiognomy) doesn’t see the ruthless uncle who would kill his two young nephews. He sees a gentle man, lost to time. With the help of the young American Researcher, Grant races across histories written by second hands with ulterior motives. And as the pair work to challenge myths and legends to clear Richard’s name, they can’t help but wonder, what could be gained by besmirching an usurped King?

“The truth of anything at all doesn’t lie in someone’s account of it. It lies in all the small facts of the time. An advertisement in a paper, the sale of a house, the price of a ring.”

Josephine Tey

Chock full of wit and political intrigue, The Daughter of Time is a history lesson like no other. Our copies at the Commission include a 2013 introduction by the late author Robert Barnard whose overview of Josephine Tey (real name Elizabeth Mackintosh) includes her writing style, spot in history, and acknowledgments of prejudices characteristic of her time which are unfortunately present in the text. Book Club groups will enjoy exploring the very real mystery of Richard III and the unknown fate of the two Princes in the Tower against the safe and removed backdrop of Grant’s hospital bed. And the delightful repartee between characters cannot be understated, from puns to inquiring over the ownership of who gets to die in the Thames- Tey is truly a master of the genre.

If you’re interested in requesting The Daughter of Time for your book club, you can find the Request Form here. There are 7 copies available. (A librarian must request items)

Tey, Josephine. The Daughter of Time. Simon and Schuster. 1951

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