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Old 04-15-2019, 03:50 PM   #16
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Stuck on your back, with no stimulation except ceiling tiles and the contemporaneous equivalent of Maeve Binchy, and you'd be a cranky patient too.
Lol ! Yes I would be too. He needed some Mickey Spillane books instead.
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Old 04-15-2019, 04:03 PM   #17
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I had to look up what" tonypandy " meant I've never heard of it before reading this book. I was also surprised how angry Grant was at Thomas More. He seemed to single him out above the others. Although I think it was because not many would doubt him.
He singled him out because he is this "sainted" figure, whose scholarship is supposed to be above reproach and unable to be coerced or bought. And to find that he was repeating the same unsubstantiated falsehoods as others, with no critical thinking about the source of the gossip, felt like a betrayal. And those are always the most biting.
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Old 04-15-2019, 04:06 PM   #18
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Plus there is his major offence: “I see that you have managed to read at least one of the books I brought you—if the rumpled jacket is any criterion.” A rumpled book jacket! No trial is needed, put him up against the wall. Now. We won't bother waiting for dawn.
In fairness to Grant, he is stuck on his back at this point, not even able to sit up in bed to read, but having to prop things up to read at all. I'd probably rumple a dust jacket in that scenario too.
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Old 04-15-2019, 05:37 PM   #19
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This is one of the greatest mysteries ever? No, I don't think so.

Despite the high praise for it, I didn't have especially high expectations, but I was still disappointed. I simply don't see much that's truly special here.

It was thankfully short, and mostly held my attention, though with my limited knowledge of English history, it was hard for me to follow who was who and their tangled relationships. I didn't especially dislike Grant, but the way he put such stock in faces was ridiculous. Perhaps I'm jaded, but I also didn't see the impossibility of the mother of the princes continuing to seem to maintain a good relationship with Richard. Why not? Is it impossible to imagine that (1) she acted one way for her own survival and thought another, or (2) she did not care about her children?

The "tonypandy" was interesting (I'm going to have to find an opportunity to use that word on Facebook!), but it's hardly surprising that history is written by the winners.

I was annoyed that Grant didn't know Sir Thomas More belonged to the time of Henry VIII--even I knew that. Of course, it's possible I know that only because of A Man for All Seasons, which certainly influenced my view of Sir Thomas, and made me annoyed by the ad nauseam use of the phrase "the sainted Sir Thomas."

My intention is (was?) to read Alison Weir's The Princes in the Tower as a follow-up--since the prosecution always gets the last word--but I don't think the defense made much of a case here for that book to refute.
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:47 PM   #20
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Just to revert back a moment to gmw’s point about Agatha Christie et al: the cases are different. In this book we are privy to Grant’s thoughts. In Christie, we are told about Poirot and hear his conversations.

All those books are absolutely dripping with class distinctions. Sayers positively fawns over Wimsey, who is of course a Lord, being the son of a Duke.
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:56 PM   #21
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I agree with a lot of what’s been said, both positive and negative. I found the book engaging, and I’d give the book 3.5. In school, history was ‘dead kings, despots and wars’, so I tuned out. But Tey sparked my interest, and I spent more hours looking up English history than I did reading the actual book.

But I do agree with gmw that Grant is very poor investigator! I kept reminding myself that Tey didn’t have the internet at her fingertips. But Grant seemed like an apologist for her position, than a trained investigator. His language is loaded with positive adjectives for everything Richard, and pejorative for the opposing side. And Carradine omits the evidence that goes against Richard.

Like CRussel, I try to take sexist language with a grain of salt. I think it’s inevitable that some of the sexism, racism and classism of the day will creep into older books.

But I’m not sure it crept in here. I thought Tey deliberately used sexist language to portray Grant as a hardened police office. But the descriptions of the nurses felt clumsy and overdone, so it wasn’t very believable - more like a stereotype than a person.

And it wasn’t consistent with Grant’s character anyway. His housekeeper, cousin and friend wouldn’t all be so fond of him, if he was really that dismissive of women as people. So I think she does Grant a disservice with the language.

Sorry for the long ramble. It was interesting, with some flaws. I bought the other Grant novels, but am hoping Tey will let Grant be more objective when he’s investigating crime, and she’s less personally invested in the outcome.
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:59 PM   #22
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Just to revert back a moment to gmw’s point about Agatha Christie et al: the cases are different. In this book we are privy to Grant’s thoughts. In Christie, we are told about Poirot and hear his conversations.

All those books are absolutely dripping with class distinctions. Sayers positively fawns over Wimsey, who is of course a Lord, being the son of a Duke.
Yes, I agree. (Sorry, I didn’t refresh before posting so didn’t realize this point had already been made - and so well
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:02 PM   #23
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This is one of the greatest mysteries ever? No, I don't think so.

Despite the high praise for it, I didn't have especially high expectations, but I was still disappointed. I simply don't see much that's truly special here.

It was thankfully short, and mostly held my attention, though with my limited knowledge of English history, it was hard for me to follow who was who and their tangled relationships. I didn't especially dislike Grant, but the way he put such stock in faces was ridiculous. Perhaps I'm jaded, but I also didn't see the impossibility of the mother of the princes continuing to seem to maintain a good relationship with Richard. Why not? Is it impossible to imagine that (1) she acted one way for her own survival and thought another, or (2) she did not care about her children?

The "tonypandy" was interesting (I'm going to have to find an opportunity to use that word on Facebook!), but it's hardly surprising that history is written by the winners.

I was annoyed that Grant didn't know Sir Thomas More belonged to the time of Henry VIII--even I knew that. Of course, it's possible I know that only because of A Man for All Seasons, which certainly influenced my view of Sir Thomas, and made me annoyed by the ad nauseam use of the phrase "the sainted Sir Thomas."

My intention is (was?) to read Alison Weir's The Princes in the Tower as a follow-up--since the prosecution always gets the last word--but I don't think the defense made much of a case here for that book to refute.
Yes, it’s hard to project ourselves back to the time of the book, to understand what a sensation it would have been at the time.

Also of course a time before the information we have so much more readily available to us now, plus memories of Paul Schofield as Sir Thomas More. Try reading Hilary Mantel for a much less flattering portrait of him!

Tey had also made the point that we tend to link people with one particular reign, but that it is perfectly possible for them to live through several. So More was a child at the time Richard was king, and his document, on which much else hangs, including Shakespeare’s play, was someone else’s version of events. In Tudor times it was the only version.
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:11 PM   #24
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I think you make a good point in Grant’s favour, Victoria. I can’t see his housekeeper or his Sergeant coming to visit him in hospital if he wasn’t someone they both liked and felt comfortable with.

I think the comments about the nurses, and Grant’s amusement over things like Mrs Tinker’s reference to “me blue” (her best outfit) are there as comedy which just isn’t funny to us.
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Old 04-15-2019, 09:19 PM   #25
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I think the comments about the nurses, and Grant’s amusement over things like Mrs Tinker’s reference to “me blue” (her best outfit) are there as comedy which just isn’t funny to us.
I think you're right, what might have seemed funny to a contemporary English audience, doesn't work for us.

And I agree with both you and Victoria -- if Grant were as dismissive as stated, he would not have been visited by those who did choose to visit.
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Old 04-15-2019, 09:51 PM   #26
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All true of course, but I kept thinking that Tey wanted to demonstrate how everyone just accepted the history that they were taught. I don't think Grant thought they were stupid but just too accepting. He was a grouchy patient that's for sure.
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I think the reason the book was voted to be the best mystery ever, or whatever that title was, is because it was such a different approach, and a very successful one, in getting a lot of people interested not only in the question of “Did he or didn’t he?”, but also in the idea that there are many different versions of history. Also of course the need to go back to original documents, rather than relying on one person’s version of what happened.
I agree with these points. I think that Tey wanted to explore both "how" history is constructed (e.g. myths, propaganda, biases, through the winner's eyes) as well as the "sources." She makes a point of Grant progressing through several different types of sources in his investigation as his interest in solving the mystery grows, i.e. children's history, popular history and scholarly history. Also, the title of the book asserts that time may separate fact from fiction in the future in its reference to Francis Bacon's quote: "Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority."

I am surprised that it is so high at the top of the best mystery ever lists. However, I can appreciate Bookpossum's statement about its unique approach that made history seem more reachable to the average non-scholarly person. When I read this book the first time, it certainly made me more interested in history and prompted me to do more research on the topic.

I too was annoyed by the he just "looks" like a man of integrity, but I suppose the pictures allowed her to have a decent method to introduce Grant's bed-side detecting. I read that Tey taught physical training and worked at a convalescent home as a V.A.D. I wonder if her experience in this area influenced her choice of setting and sparked the idea for this book.
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Old 04-15-2019, 10:03 PM   #27
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More soon, but a solid four stars. Though the Derek Jacobi narration was a bust. But this wasn't a great book for audio anyway, if you don't already know a lot about the English kings and their offspring.
I agree. I think the audiobook would have been more difficult to follow if I had not previously "read" the book rather than just listened to it.

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It was thankfully short, and mostly held my attention, though with my limited knowledge of English history, it was hard for me to follow who was who and their tangled relationships.

My intention is (was?) to read Alison Weir's The Princes in the Tower as a follow-up--since the prosecution always gets the last word--but I don't think the defense made much of a case here for that book to refute.
I am very glad that I chose to read Weir's book. You are correct that it makes a very strong case that Richard did it. It also will help me to remember more of the history in the future. For example, I think that I could now read Shakespeare's Richard III and have a greater chance of understanding it.

I too find it very difficult to follow this period of history, especially as an American. I don't think we get as much instruction in English history as others, and we don't get to go on fun school trips to castles and English museums. Although, I thought it was funny that Grant made fun of English school boys wanting to skip past this confusing era of Yorks and Lancasters so they can get to the Tudors.
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Old 04-15-2019, 10:18 PM   #28
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[...] But I do agree with gmw that Grant is very poor investigator! I kept reminding myself that Tey didn’t have the internet at her fingertips. But Grant seemed like an apologist for her position, than a trained investigator. His language is loaded with positive adjectives for everything Richard, and pejorative for the opposing side. And Carradine omits the evidence that goes against Richard.

Like CRussel, I try to take sexist language with a grain of salt. I think it’s inevitable that some of the sexism, racism and classism of the day will creep into older books.

But I’m not sure it crept in here. I thought Tey deliberately used sexist language to portray Grant as a hardened police office. But the descriptions of the nurses felt clumsy and overdone, so it wasn’t very believable - more like a stereotype than a person.

And it wasn’t consistent with Grant’s character anyway. His housekeeper, cousin and friend wouldn’t all be so fond of him, if he was really that dismissive of women as people. So I think she does Grant a disservice with the language.[...]
I like that you point out the inconsistencies; I think they go some way to explaining my reaction (to both books I've read by Tey). It was never the sexism and dismissiveness on its own - I've read enough older fiction to get along well enough - it's the total picture of the character. And now I realise that part of the problem is that the picture is inconsistent. I dropped the first book because almost every interaction with Grant jarred heavily, I thought the awkwardness might have just been first book jitters, but hit it again in this book. But at least with this book the topic kept my interest despite my distaste for the character.
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Old 04-15-2019, 10:23 PM   #29
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I agree with these points. I think that Tey wanted to explore both "how" history is constructed (e.g. myths, propaganda, biases, through the winner's eyes) as well as the "sources." She makes a point of Grant progressing through several different types of sources in his investigation as his interest in solving the mystery grows, i.e. children's history, popular history and scholarly history. Also, the title of the book asserts that time may separate fact from fiction in the future in its reference to Francis Bacon's quote: "Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority." [...]
I see it as a case of the wrong character for the story. She needed a poor investigator in order them to stumble over all the parts of history that she wanted to lead her audience across - and I think she did this very well - the problem is that an inspector of long experience should not make a convincingly poor investigator.
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Old 04-15-2019, 11:08 PM   #30
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I agree. I think the audiobook would have been more difficult to follow if I had not previously "read" the book rather than just listened to it.
I thought the audiobook was just fine; I like Derek Jacobi. The problem I had was with so many names and relationships and sources, which I suppose couldn't be helped.

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I am very glad that I chose to read Weir's book. You are correct that it makes a very strong case that Richard did it. It also will help me to remember more of the history in the future. For example, I think that I could now read Shakespeare's Richard III and have a greater chance of understanding it.

I too find it very difficult to follow this period of history, especially as an American. I don't think we get as much instruction in English history as others, and we don't get to go on fun school trips to castles and English museums. Although, I thought it was funny that Grant made fun of English school boys wanting to skip past this confusing era of Yorks and Lancasters so they can get to the Tudors.
I did decide to read Weir, even though I actually have to READ and not listen!

I think so much of what I know of English history came from movies--Becket, Lion in Winter, Anne of the Thousand Days, etc. I never got into Shakespeare's historical plays much, though I did see Richard III on Broadway with Al Pacino; he overpowered the play with a scenery-chewing performance. But I digress.

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I like that you point out the inconsistencies; I think they go some way to explaining my reaction (to both books I've read by Tey). It was never the sexism and dismissiveness on its own - I've read enough older fiction to get along well enough - it's the total picture of the character. And now I realise that part of the problem is that the picture is inconsistent. I dropped the first book because almost every interaction with Grant jarred heavily, I thought the awkwardness might have just been first book jitters, but hit it again in this book. But at least with this book the topic kept my interest despite my distaste for the character.
Grant seemed like my stereotypical idea of a rather snooty, entitled Britisher who looked down on underlings because they're underlings. But I didn't find it especially offensive. It did annoy me that the American did all the legwork but Grant gets the credit.
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