Shades Of Words

The House on the Strand


After having read ‘Rebecca’ some 3 years ago I have always been very apprehensive of trying any other Daphne De Maurier (DDM)  book. I did not want to spoil the memory of that lovely haunting book. But I had been reading a lot of reviews on DDM’s work on blogs and so,off I went to the store to chose my second book. “Time travel” and “fourteenth century england” were the key deciding factors in picking up “The House on the Strand” -I love period books and this seemed like an interesting concotation of contemporary and old England.

Well here for my review – I really enjoyed reading it. It was not an ‘unputdownable’ like Rebecca but it was gripping enough. The main characters are Richard Young ( sitting idle , between jobs) and his best friend Magnus Lane  ( slightly eccentric biophysicist). The story is set in Cornwall and the geographic layout is quite essential to the central plot of the book. Magnus offers Richard and his family his country  house, Kilmerth for the summer. Richard arrives early to set things in order and that is where our story begins – Magnus has persuaded Richard to try out a new experimental drug before his family joins him at Kilmerth.

Well, Richard takes the prescribed dose and is transported back to 14th century England.  Gone is his house and in place stands a much humbler dwelling, half the village has also disappeared , to replaced by the river and expansive green fields. DDM drags Richard and in turn the reader, into the lives and stories of people who lived and breathed six hundred years ago.Roger Kylmerth, steward to Sir Henry Champeroune, is the connecting link – it is through his eyes that Richard observes the ups and downs of the lives of the lords of Cornwall – Sir Henry, Sir Oliver Carminowe, Lady Isodola Carminowe, Sir William Ferrers and others.

There were times when I felt a chill up the spine thinking what if this was really possible, what if I , where I was standing could go back to the same spot , six hundred years ago…what would I see.

The story is not just about Richard’s journey into the past – its also about how it starts effecting his present life. Richard is so infatuated by Lady Isodola that he must know what is her fate. He keeps on taking ‘trips’ in the past inspite of negative side-effects of the drug showing up. Things nearly come to pass when Magnus who has been self-administrating the drug walks into a moving train under its influence.But Richard must go back. Isodola is trapped by her husband and is plotting to escape under Roger’s protection – he must know what happens to her. Richard takes one more trip  and this time the past and present are so intertwined that he attacks his wife mistaking her for the ghost from the past.

There are sevaral themes in this book – friendship and  loyalty, marriage and betrayel, homosexuality, drug addiction.Two elements really made the book gripping – the parallel story line of  England of  the Middle Ages and Richard’s discovery of the truth behind the events that happened in the past.DDM’s vivid description of Cornwall terrain added to the whole mood of the story and really did make you feel as you were a part of that book.

Verdict : A must buy if you enjoy reading Daphne De Maurier


Author: Vipula

Before talking about who we are, we’d like to tell you a bit about how and why Shades of Words came into being. It all started with the idea of “A place where we could share with likeminded people about things we enjoy. From books to music to movies to travel; Shades of Words was to be a place about the best of our experiences” We thought about why should anyone read us? The answer was that whatever we review would be a mix of our experience of the thing along with interesting and useful information about it. So in case you are reading us regularly or even checking us out once in a while then we have succeeded in our efforts someway somewhere. Who are we? Known as Kapil Sood and Vipula Gupta, we thought of Shades of Words on one fine Sunday afternoon. Tired of writing interesting RFP’s and project documentation; we decided to give this a shot. Yes! We work in Indian IT industry. Cupid struck us while were innocently slogging together on the highly intricate job of formatting and beautifying documents! And since then, we have been working together to establish Shades of Words as a place that we can claim as ours. (Because buying a house is still years away!) What else? Kapil also writes some blogs which you can read here and here.

7 thoughts on “The House on the Strand

  1. I’ve read a few books by DDM, and like you I am always a little apprehensive knowing they are not likely to surpass what she managed to do in Rebecca. I’ve enjoyed her other books, but Rebecca remains my favorite. This is one I haven’t read yet, but now I will have to go and dig out my copy! I’ve never been to Cornwall but I expect I would love it there, and am always interested in books set there (she’s a good person to read for that fact alone). I like the idea of time travel, too, especially when it’s well done!

  2. I’ve read Rebecca and its sequel which is equally haunting. But the rest of DDM’s books seemed to have an air of tragedy about them.

    When you mentioned drugs here though, it got me wondering if it was a drug meant to induce hallucinations. I mean its impossible to time travel standing at a point in space 🙂

    As for Cornwall, most British authors I’ve come across seem to base their stories in Cornwall.

  3. Danielle – welcome to our blog! In ” The House on the Strand” time travel is all without the sci-fi jargon which is really refreshing. And ofcourse all the feudal drama is really gripping. Its a good weekend read!
    Zoya – I believe the sequel is by Susan Hill. I have not read any other DDM so cant say if agree with you on that. Yes it has been implied that the drug was hallucinogenic but it does not why explain whatever Richard saw were facts of the past

  4. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one. It’s one of my favourite DdMs, partly because the plot is really quite original. Once I’d started I couldn’t stop reading.

  5. Cath – I would say that “Rebecca” is still my all time favorite but yes “The House on Strand” is very original in its concept. I am now wondering which DdM to try next – any suggestions?

    • I think Frenchman’s Creek is my all time favourite DdM, although I haven’t read it in years. Jamaica Inn is also good. There’s also a lovely autobiographical book by her called Myself When Young, which is an absolute gem.

      • Cath – I have been planning to read Myself when Young – I think thats going to be my next buy. I will also try out Frenchman’s Creek

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