Susan Crosland


The House on the Strand


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Written in the late Sixties, du Maurier’s last successful novel is deeply disturbing. Dick Young, bored with his job as a publisher, has just resigned. His tiresome American wife, Vita, is away. Though Dick loves Vita, he welcomes her absence. Since university twenty years ago, the stimulus in his otherwise grey life has been his close friendship with Professor Magnus Lane, a sardonic biophysicist. ‘He called the tune, I danced.’ Magnus has lent Dick his large house in Cornwall while using him as a guinea pig for a drug he has created. The house is built where a medieval town once stood; that town’s most influential family were the Carminowes. Marcus’s drug moves one into the past. Dick finds himself in the fourteenth century, entranced by the beautiful young Lady Isolda, wife of Sir Oliver Carminowe, whom she is cuckolding. Carminowe enjoys holding his enemies’ heads under water. On one of Dick’s visits a plank floats by on the river, Isolda’s lover strapped to it, dead. Increasing the dosage of the drug as Magnus suggested, Dick becomes obsessed with the past reality, where love and hate are vivid and violent. Michael Maloney is spellbinding as he reads this increasingly gruesome story with its terrifying ending.

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