As a teenager, I was enthralled by Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, and I sought out any other Du Maurier that I could find. Some I loved (My Cousin Rache...moreAs a teenager, I was enthralled by Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, and I sought out any other Du Maurier that I could find. Some I loved (My Cousin Rachel, Frenchman's Creek), some I didn't (Mary Anne, I'll Never Be Young Again), but somehow I missed out her penultimate novel, The House on the Strand. Then recently I read Margaret Forster's biography of Du Maurier, where she describes THOTS as one of Du Maurier's "masterpieces" (the others being Rebecca and The Scapegoat), and decided I should give it a go.
THOTS uses an interesting mechanism for time travel; a type of hallucinogenic drug enables our narrator, Dick Young, to partake in the world of the 14th century. But it is a limited type of time travel. Dick can see and hear and smell the past, but he cannot touch it or influence it in any way, and no-one in the past realises that he is there. Despite these limitations, and the drug's dangerous side effects, he becomes increasingly addicted to these time-travel journeys and decreasingly attached to his own present world. Decisions about his own future are put on hold as he digs further into the past. A medieval woman who he cannot touch or talk to becomes more important to him than his own wife in the present day.
Du Maurier's storytelling is as absorbing as I remember. Is there a warning here for the writer or reader about how fantasy can become more absorbing than reality? If so, then THOTS is as dangerous a drug as any, sucking you into its world and not letting go until the very end.(less)
This was so promising. I love the idea of a modern retelling of Hansel & Gretel. Unfortunately, the brief flashes of creepiness weren't enough and...moreThis was so promising. I love the idea of a modern retelling of Hansel & Gretel. Unfortunately, the brief flashes of creepiness weren't enough and the promising characters weren't on stage for long enough to save the creaking plot.(less)
Argh, I hate giving such a low rating to an Adichie book. I loved Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus, and I loved her TED talks on The Danger of...moreArgh, I hate giving such a low rating to an Adichie book. I loved Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus, and I loved her TED talks on The Danger of a Single Story and Why Everyone Should be a Feminist. But this is a review of Americanah the novel and not Adichie the person, so a 2-star it is. Americanah has a lot to say about race, nationality, and immigration. In a blog or a series of essays, this would be great. But Americanah bills itself as a novel, and a love story at that, so I expect plot and engaging characters, all that stuff that I know Adichie can do but that she sadly fails to deliver here. The characters (too many to count) exist to illustrate a point or deliver a view. The plot goes nowhere. The main character is self-absorbed and judgemental; not a problem in itself, flawed characters can be great; but I think we're supposed to see her as the heroine and admire her "honesty". The love story lacks passion or meaning, and left me with a bad taste in the end. Don't let Americanah turn you off Adichie's writing. Every writer is entitled to a damp squib, and this one is hers. Half of a Yellow Sun is a great book and I'll certainly read her next effort. (less)