I purchased this little book on a whim at my local bookshop last week. I don’t know what made me pick it up. Perhaps it was the cover. Maybe it was the synopsis on the back cover. All I know is that I bought this book and started reading it after I was finished with The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. I am not far into this book. As a matter of fact, I am only on chapter 2. However, I think this is going to be another favourite of 2020.
The little author’s blurb in the little Introduction within the book said that Tey is a Scottish author. So, quite naturally, I spoke to my grandmother about her. My grandmother earned her degree in English literature back in the day, and she’s always been my go to when it comes to talking about English language authors and anything literature related. My grandmother didn’t really know too much about Tey as she’s more of a fan of Agatha Christie and she never studied Tey when she was going to school. However, she is interested in reading the book after I am finished with it to gain more perspective, and to see if she likes the author.
So, one thing that I am slightly annoyed about is that Arcturus published this classic and made it seem like it was a standalone novel. I didn’t think anything of it when I purchased this book, but when I did my own research, I discovered that Tey wrote The Daughter of Time as the fifth book within an established mystery series called the ‘Inspector Alan Grant Novels’. While, I am a little peeved that I am picking up and reading a book that is the fifth book in a series, I find that I don’t really care the more I am reading the book. It is a delightful read so far, and it reads like a standalone without making any reference to any past books. Reading The Daughter of Time doesn’t make me feel like I am missing anything unlike many other book series that I’ve read in the past.
Now, there might be a few reasons for why Arcturus only published this particular book without publishing any of the others first. It could be that this book is the more famous of her book series, and is considered worthier to republish than the others. I can’t exactly blame Arcturus for making this decision when it comes to authors, but I admit to being a little annoyed because I was worried that I would read this book and find references that I’d understand if I first read the other books in the series.
The premise of this book is what got me so interested in adding it to my collection. You see, the book is centred on a mystery- but an old mystery. The mystery of who murdered the Princes of the Tower. However, the person investigating the murder is a man that is 500 years in the future, and is a Scotland Yard Inspector.
You can see why I decided to buy this book, right?
I love history. One of my greatest passions is learning as much as I can about history. I know about the Princes in the Tower, Richard III, and the Wars of the Roses. As a Canadian, my knowledge in English medieval history is spotty, and I admit that I do not know as much as I should when it comes to this period. My knowledge with British history is vast when it comes to how the British affected Canada. Most of my history knowledge is self taught. I grew up in a part of Canada that resented my French heritage to the point that French history was largely ignored in favour of the English Canadian narrative. Since Canada is on the opposite side of the world, we don’t much care for European history unless it directly affects Canada. For example, we know more about the Seven Years’ War (also referred to as the French and Indian War or in Canadian French Guerre de la Conquête) than we do The Hundred Years’ War or even the Wars of the Roses.
So, everything that I know about Richard III, the Princes of the Tower, and the Wars of the Roses is largely self taught. I’ve read books by Dan Jones, Alison Weir, and Desmond Seward. It’s nothing to receiving a thorough education within the classroom, but I would rather read history books than be entirely ignorant of that history.
To bring this back to the subject of this article, I want to say that I always sympathized with Richard III to some capacity. He is one of my favourite historical figures. Nobody will beat my absolute favourite historical figure of all time… Turenne (who has such an endearing personality), but Richard III is high up on that list.
As I mentioned earlier, this book is a mystery. It has a protagonist that is so like me in character and personality that it is scary. Alan Grant is such an interesting character from what I can see of his narrative. He is a Scotland Yard Inspector, living in what I believe is the 20th century. The year isn’t expressly told to the reader, but from references within the writing, I believe that the book is set in the contemporary period of the writer. At the beginning of the book, we see Grant confined to bed within a hospital. He is bored and miserable. As a man of action, he is not used to being confined to a bed.
As a result, his lady friend (who I suspect is a character in the other books?) decides to bring Grant pictures that she copied of famous historical figures that provided a mystery. See, Grant has a thing with faces where he likes to study faces, but he also likes to solve mysteries associated with those faces/historical figures. He’s presented a few pictures and dismisses all of them until he reaches the picture of Richard III. After doing some thinking and researching, Grant makes the decision to ‘reopen’ the murder investigation of the princes of the tower.
I am only on the second chapter so I don’t know how we get through the investigative process, but I can say that I am thoroughly enjoying myself.
Regardless of the direction that Tey takes with the plot. Whether Richard III is found to be the perpetrator or is ‘deemed innocent’, I can’t wait to continue on with the story. The idea that a detective is investigating a crime that occurred 500 years is an amusing one to me. It’s amusing in a good way. It isn’t done as a way to ‘rewrite’ a narrative, but to provide amusement to a detective that is bored in a hospital bed.
But then again, this is coming from a person that tries to sort historical figures into Hogwarts houses… which is my favourite pastimes whenever I am bored.