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The House on the Strand

The House on the Strand - Daphne du Maurier I have to admit that I started reading this with the excitement that this would be a gothic novel like Du Maurier's [b:Rebecca|12873|Rebecca|Daphne du Maurier|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327871977s/12873.jpg|46663]. However, if it was meant to be a gothic novel, it's not a conventional one since the novel's ghosts aren't conventional ghosts. There's a Cornish slang phrase that describes people going mad and walking across the Bodmin Moors like ghosts. Such people are said to have "gone bodmin". And there's definitely no better phrase to describe Richard's and Magnus' obsessive roamings across the Bodmin Moors under the influence of a hallucinogenic drug that caused them to see into another time while remaining bodily in the present. And hallucinogenic drugs definitely come with their own perils without going bodmin and wandering blind across the moors.

The more I think about the premise of the novel, the more I want it to have been a great novel. Surely the bottles of embryos that Du Maurier found in the basement when she moved into the house that inspired this novel also inspired the mad scientist aspect of the novel. But I wish that Richard Young, the "mad" scientist in the novel, had been more eccentrically mad than pathetically obsessed. Actually, come to think of it, he was just a scientist's assistant and not really a scientist at all. The real scientist, Magnus, is mainly present in the novel through phone calls and letters. And he was the character that seemed as if he could be the most interesting if ever fleshed out.

I have to admit that I had very little interest in the world that Richard and Magnus were able to view in the 1300s. It was hard to care about the ever-changing marriages, children, lovers, and alliances of the past in characters with very little personality. I guess you really had to be there to become obsessed with them. I was glad that most of the their "trips" to view the past were short.

I don't regret having read this book so much as I'm disappointed that it wasn't so much more. There's a depth here that just wasn't fully mined. At least the ending is a just one for our Pathetic Dick.