Believably Unbelievable

*My intention was to comment on my “currently reading” list, at least when I have something positive to say. I wrote this blog entry just before my computer died a couple of weeks ago and have now recovered it from the old hard drive.*

Daphne du Maurier is one of my favorite authors, one of the few I discovered AFTER seeing a movie made from her book. Rebecca, both the old Hitchcock version and the newer Masterpiece Theatre version, fascinated me. I read the book—and loved what I read. So on my many trips to the used book store, I’ve searched out her other novels.

Du Maurier is a master at first person storytelling. She draws the reader in from the first sentence with the voice of the character and the insinuations of something mysterious. I love the way history and suspense are woven together in most of her books.

I just finished The House on the Strand. The premise is kind of out there: “On vacation at an ancient manor house, a young man takes an experimental drug that transports him 600 years into the past—while leaving his body in the present.”

Can you imagine pitching that to an editor? It sounds crazy! And yet she makes it work. From page one, the reader is drawn into a past world, wondering why this modern man is in it and is he really in it and how did he get there. Interspersed between his trips to the past are snippets of his present life. Each era has its own problems. Each provides a kind of escape from the other. Each is filled with its own suspense, its own plot. And complications ensue when the worlds threaten to collide.

This book stretched the limits of my imagination. An unbelievable premise turned into a believable, enjoyable book, told by a credible first person. Books like hers inspire me to strive for a level above my current storytelling, my current level of craft. I can’t wait to find another Daphne du Maurier gem in the musty stacks of some used book sale.