In this haunting tale, Daphne du Maurier takes a fresh approach to time travel. A secret experimental concoction, once imbibed, allows you to return to the fourteenth century. There is only one catch: if you happen to touch anyone while traveling in the past you will be thrust instantaneously to the present. Magnus Lane, a University of London chemical researcher, asks his friend Richard Young and Young's family to stay at Kilmarth, an ancient house set in the wilds near the Cornish coast. Here,... read more
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful: Compelling Tale of Addiction, May 16, 2003 Reviewer: reneofc from Kenner, LA USA Imagine that after ingesting a simple chemical liquid, your brain somehow connects the genetic memory it has inherited and suppressed with the actual reality experienced by your ancestors. The result, as Dick Young, narrator of "the House on the Strand" discovers, catapults Dick's mind back into the depths of his genetic memory where modern Cornwall transforms to a battleground where a bloodthirsty struggle between 14th century landowners rages at a slightly accelerated pace from that of the present. As intriguing as the reader may find this premise, Dick Young finds it all the more so. For with each dose of the drug, Dick's body and mind become addicted to this otherworld, so much so that he ignores the responsibilities of his present life and places his marriage, livelihood and life in jeopardy. As in other Du Maurier tales where she employs a male narrator, Dick falls prey to an older mentor, in this case biochemist researcher and designer of the genetic memory drug, Magnus Lane. (Oddly, although not biologically related, both Magnus and Dick conjur up the same historical characters as they 'journey' back to the Cornwall of the 14th century.) Interlaced within their perfect and insular relationship lies the same exclusionary sense experienced between Philip and Ambrose (My Cousin Rachel) and John and Jean (The Scapegoat)that no outsiders are welcome, particularly women---as in all these stories, the major woman character is either murdered or harmed in some dire way. If the reader is expecting a time travel tale where the voyager entangles himself in the past, find another book. Dick serves as a guinea pig in this plotline; he observes the past through the conduit of the drug. The main gist of the novel revolves around Dick's all-consuming addiction rather than his experiences in another time. Du Maurier uses real historical personnages in her depiction of Dick's "trips". The 'House on the Strand' was a house she actually lived in and whose past she researched. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys Du Maurier's knack of transporting the reader into the head of her narrator, eliciting both sympathy and emotional terror simultaneously.