This is an old classic. I was unable to obtain a copy from my local library and was unsuccessful at requesting it via Inter-Library loan as well. So, I found a great deal on this book through Thrift Books. What a great website and bookseller – if you are looking for used books they have them at quite reasonable prices.
The plot of this book involves a time travel theme. The extraordinary thing about the “travel” is that Richard Johnson, our subject and traveler, doesn’t physically leave his present. Only his mental state travels.
The travel is induced when Johnson takes a potion, a liquid elixir that appears to be LSD as described in the book. He drinks it and suddenly he’s in a time period near the 1300’s where he observes, hears and smells all that goes on around him. He walks in their time period but is physically in his own time, so if he connects with a solid force, such as a barn or window, he is brought back to his time.
It sounds silly but it’s well written using the language of the Middle Ages. He gets emotionally vested in what is going on with Roger and Isolda and many people, now 600 years dead in his own time. In the meantime, his wife Vita and her children arrive for a holiday where Richard Johnson is staying in Cornwall. Obviously he can’t confide to Vita about the experimental trips he is taking and has to find ways to send her off on excursions without him.
There are naturally misunderstandings between them, hurt feelings and angst which lead you to conclude they can not possibly stay together. Richard’s compatriot in these experimental trips is Magnus, an old friend from Cambridge who is also dabbling with the time travel. Can’t reveal what happens to Magnus as it’s a definite spoiler but it’s important.
Daphne du Maurier is wonderful novelist, her biggest success, in my humble opinion, being Rebecca. What a story teller. Great language, wonderful descriptors, you can immerse yourself in the scenery and story.