Exciting, engagingly narrated tale of the “search to discover the real Richard III,” co-authored by screenwriter Langley and historian Jones (Total War: From Stalingrad to Berlin, 2011, etc.).
What would drive Langley to spearhead a quest to dig up a car park in Leicester, searching for the remains of Richard III? The author credits her initial inspiration to Paul Murray Kendall’s biography Richard III, which refutes the Shakespearean image of the king. However, it was after reading her co-author’s Bosworth 1485: Psychology of a Battle (2002) that she found the story she needed to tell. During her research, she was drawn to a car park across from the supposed site of Richard’s grave. A strange sensation, pounding heart, dry mouth and a cold chill convinced her that she was at the correct site. On her second visit, she discovered a newly painted “R” (for a reserved parking spot) in the same spot where she knew the king’s grave would be found. The book is woven cleverly with the story of the author’s drive for funding, archaeology details and permission requests, alternating with Jones’ strong biography of Richard. This much-maligned king reigned only two years, but there was no sign of an evil character in the courageous warrior who was devoted to his father and brother. While no one can defend the death of the two princes in the tower, the authors note that Richard’s nephew and grandnephew, his legitimate heirs, each disappeared during the two subsequent reigns. “[W]e put a stop to the stigmatizing and vilification and allow for complexity,” write the authors. Compelling throughout, this unlikely story of a three-week dig in an obscure car park is simultaneously informative and enchanting. Langley and Jones include extensive family trees and a helpful timeline.