1483 AD The Daughter of Time

(This book was not written in 1483, nor does it take place then, but it deals with the events of Richard III's reign, so I placed it there.)
"For the love of Mike, find me a copy of Thomas More's History of Richard III."
 
That’s my favorite line from Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time.  For some reason it strikes me as completely hilarious, but we’ll leave off my sense of humor for now and discuss the book.

This is my last jaunt into Ricardian history at present, and it’s not actually a history, but a novel.  A detective novel, in fact.  A policeman, Alan Grant, is laid up in a hospital with a broken leg and undertakes in his recovery hours a thorough investigation of Richard III, his character and whether or not he was responsible for the murder of the princes.   This book is short, fun, and entertaining, and it brings up some good points.

But here is the winter of my discontent:  First, after reading a few biographies on Richard III, it was obvious that Tey had deliberately fudged several facts in order to streamline her case.  While not outright lying in most cases, she was allowing one interpretation of the events to be published as fact.  There were a few cases, though, that were close enough to the line that I believe most would consider it lying, and unfortunately these were cases that are pretty clear as far as the history goes.  Tey could not have misunderstood the events, so she lost some points with me there.

The second letdown for me was the consistent dragging of Thomas More through the dirt.  Just about everyone agrees that More’s history is not entirely accurate, though to what extent, people’s opinions vary greatly.  More got his version of the story from a man very much connected with the events (and who also happened to hate Richard).  There is some evidence that this account was even written by this man and not More.  But whether More wrote it or was just copying out another’s words (no printing press back then), he certainly wasn’t writing the history to purposely deceive the world.  Grant, however, takes More’s inaccuracy very personally and has to give a jab of disgust every time his name is mentioned.  It gets a little old.

Grant’s final conclusion is that Richard is innocent, and this is followed by a somewhat hasty jump that the murderer must be Henry VII.  Henry doesn’t get an investigation, or at least not one such as Richard got, and historically it’s a little more complicated than that.  Personally, I’m kinda leaning toward Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham at the moment, but he’s not mentioned as a suspect.

But I feel like I’m being harsh.  It is a novel afterall, and I did enjoy reading it.  Tey obviously did quite a bit of research to write this book (and used her research to her advantage).  It is a fun book to accompany some more serious historical reading, but I could  not recommend this book on it’s own because the history is so biased.  Plus, I’m not really sure I would have been able to fully follow all of the conversations between the characters had I no prior knowledge on the subject.

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