Hey all! Today I’m reviewing a new favorite book of mine, by a longtime favorite author, Daphne du Maurier, of Rebecca fame. I remember Rebecca as one of those books everyone actually liked to read in middle/high school, and of course she’s the author of the story-turned-Hitchcock-film The Birds (which, incidentally, is ten times more terrifying in print form). I bought a few of her books secondhand a few months ago, and decided to read The House on the Strand.
The House on the Strand isn’t your typical du Maurier novel: there’s no ghosties or murders, no shocking twist, no truly “supernatural” phenomena, etc. It’s about a middle-aged man named Dick Young who is staying in his friend Professor Magnus Lane’s summer house in Cornwall, on the condition that he help Professor Lane with a scientific experiment. Magnus and Dick have been friends their whole lives, and Dick trusts him implicitly, even given how strange the experiment is. Because when Dick takes a draft of a new drug Magnus has developed, he finds himself walking through a different time: his brain has transported itself back to 1300s Cornwall, while Dick’s body remains roaming in the present.
At first, Dick is shocked and scared and hesitant, but as he continues to take these “trips,” he finds that he’s becoming addicted–more and more immersed within this other world, and especially with one woman named Isolda. On the contrary, his own life is fraught with anxiety and panic; He recently lost his publishing job in London, and his overbearing American wife is pressuring him to take another job in New York. Dick uses his trips as an escape from his own stressful world, to his extreme detriment.
This book was utterly engrossing. Dick’s voice is very attractive as a narrator and he’s a vivid character. On the other hand, his wife Vita is painted almost stereotypically, of the nagging wife who can do no right. But I loved the theme of living in another world to escape your own, and the consequences that can have. And even though this book isn’t a mystery or thriller or a typical du Maurier novel you’d think of, there’s still a shocking end that left me with my mouth hanging open on the train back home. 🙂
I really loved this new foray into du Maurier’s mind, and this book has utterly cemented her in my book as one of my all-time favorite authors! Definitely check it out.
Fans of Rebecca, fans of historical fiction, fans of classic authors, those who like a touch of the fantastical in their reading!