A secret experimental concoction, once imbibed, allows you to return to the fourteenth century. There is only one catch: if you happen to touch anyone while travelling in the past you will be thrust instantaneously to the present.
Magnus Lane, a University of London chemical researcher, asks his friend Richard Young and Young’s family to stay at Kilmarth, an ancient house set in the wilds near the Cornish coast. Here, Richard drinks a potion created by Magnus and finds himself at the same spot where he was moments earlier-though it is now the fourteenth century. The effects of the drink wear off after several hours, but it is wildly addictive, and Richard cannot resist traveling back and forth in time. Gradually growing more involved in the lives of the early Cornish manor lords and their ladies, he finds the presence of his wife and stepsons a hindrance to his new-found experience. Richard eventually finds emotional refuge with a beautiful woman of the past trapped in a loveless marriage, but when he attempts to intervene on her behalf the results are brutally terrifying for the present.
Well, Rebecca this aint!
Richard, in between jobs and trying to decide whether to remain in England or move to the US with his wife, spends the summer holiday in the childhood house of his friend Magnus. A Biophysicist, Magnus has been working on a new drug, which he persuades Richard to try on himself. Richard is taken 600 years in the past, following a steward called Roger and the intricacies of large families and politics with land etc.
Richard flips between the present and the past by making continued use of the drug. The side effects of the trips become worse, and add to the already taught relationship with his wife, all the time becoming more addictive.
Like other reviewers, I did find all the 14th Century relationships a little confusing, but this was certainly a different book to read, and well worth the time! As I am reading more and more of Du Maurier’s works I am coming to appreciate her skill as a writer (see also The Glass Blowers, which is once again, another time and subject matter)