A novel of psychological suspense. This took me a while to get into. The beginning was slow and a little boring. It's the story of Richard Young who is spending his holiday at the vacation home in Cornwall of his closest friend, Magnus Lane. Richard has arrived at the house a few days ahead of his wife and stepsons. He has recently quit his job in London and is casting about for some purpose. He's been offered a similar position in NYC which his wife Vita is hoping he'll accept. Magnus convinces Richard to take advantage of his few days alone to help Magnus with some experiments he's been doing with a psychotropic drug he's developed. (The book was written in 1969, LSD was a big thing.)When he takes the drug, Richard is transported to the same Cornish village, in its earlier configurations of the 14th century.
As I said, the book was slow to catch my interest. I didn't really care for Richard so had a hard time caring when he was the only character (not counting those he encountered while under the influence). I wonder why du Maurier did not make him a more likable character? It would have leant so much more to the suspense. Once Vita and the boys arrive the pace picks up, echoing Richard's increasingly frantic and erratic behavior. This was well done. I couldn't figure out why Richard was so worried that Vita might guess what he was doing. Hmmm, I bet Richard is timetraveling and that's why he's so off! I should mention that when he's off on one of his trips, it's just his mind that travels. So while he thinks he's parading around ancient Cornwall, his actual body is walking around current Cornwall. This leads to some awkward and potentially dangerous situations. New roads, a railway line, changes in bodies of water.
As Richard flipflops between the two worlds,he begins to have a hard time keeping them separated in his mind. He also feels more drawn to the old world and is less invested in his own life. He justifies his increasing distance from his wife, insisting she's pushing him towards a life he doesn't want. He minimizes his role in his stepsons' lives, after all he's not really their father.
So is he hallucinating or is he really able to visit another time? du Maurier is at her best here. A great read. I only wish I had liked Richard more.