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madbkwm

madbkwm

The House on the Strand - Daphne du Maurier I read Rebecca in high school and remember it as one of my favorite books. I came across this in the library a few days ago and thought I would pick it up.

The writing was good and the story was mostly compelling. There are some conveniences (as always) and the plot was a bit transparent at times, but overall it was a worthwhile read.

My biggest complaint was duMaurier's lack of feminist perspective in her writing. As a woman in 1969, I would have expected more from her for her female characters. She begins (page 32) with a pithy comment about how women were valued only as possessions to be sold in the 1300s, but then her descriptions of the modern day Vita are fabulously unappealing. She has lots of snide comments and marriage and overall does not paint a believable picture of Dick's relationship. If Vita is so overbearing (and she is) why did he marry her (after all it is a relatively new relationship).

My other complaint was the unexplained nature of the time travel. The chemical reaction was never adequately explained (Magnus in his post-morteum letter simply says that they are tapping into cumulative memories in their brain. But wouldn't this be related to each individual's DNA and so Dick and Magnus would see their own relatives, not the same Roger). Also, it seemed odd to me that Dick kept moving forward in time. Certainly he does not have control (and laments this fact) over when he will enter the world, but he is always moving towards his own time. How come he doesn't visit earlier periods ever? How come it doesn't jump all the way to 1600 (for example)? How does the drug know where he is in the story and supply the next series in the chronology? Certainly Dr. Powell explains this a bit with the whole psycho-tropic hallucinogenic revelation, but Dick learns things in the other world that he did not know and could not have hallucinated. Yes, the personalities of the characters from the 1300s could be related to Dick's own repressed views, but their actual birth and death dates and the locations of their homes, etc are things that he is getting somehow through a sort of time travel.

Not at all what I was expecting and definitely worth a read, but not as good as I remember Rebecca having been.