Find
10 South Emerson, Mount Prospect, IL 60056 | 847/253-5675
Font:

Check It Out!

MPPL's staff blog about books, movies, music and the talent behind them.

Book Discussion Questions: The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier

House on the Strand book cover

SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

 

Title: The House on the Strand
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Page Count: 298
Genre: Literary fantasy, Gothic fiction, Time travel
Tone: Mysterious, Atmospheric, Suspenseful

 

1.  Were you caught up in the book right away? Did you find it hard to follow?

2.  How did you feel about the narrative moving back and forth between time periods? Several critics have commented on the immense skill with which du Maurier keeps tension on both levels. Would you agree?

3.  Which time period /storyline did you find more interesting?

4.  What was your opinion of Richard, the narrator?

5.  Being the straight-laced man that he was, why did Richard try Magnus’ drug in the first place?

6.  How would you characterize the relationship between Magnus and Richard?

7.  What differences were there in the ways Magnus and Richard approached the experiments?

8.  Why do you think Roger was used as the link/guide/alter ego?

9.  Why did John Willis corroborate Richard’s testimony at the inquest?

10.  How important to the story is Vita? Why so?

•  Did you like her? Feel sorry for her? Were you increasingly annoyed by/with her as Dick was?
•  How would you characterize Richard and Vita’s relationship? Why is this so?
•  Why didn’t Richard tell Vita about the drug, especially after she became suspicious of him having an affair and acting so erratically?
•  In Latin, “Vita” translates as “life”. Do you think this was an intentional choice for du Maurier? What might this understanding add?

11.  Did you trust Dr. Powell? Was he right to release Richard when he did?

12.  What was the allure for Richard to keep going back to the past?

13.  Would you agree that this is a “story of addiction”? If so, was he addicted to the drug itself or to the stories he witnessed?

14. Was Richard actually time-traveling or merely hallucinating?

•  Were you satisfied with Dr. Powell’s theories at the end of the book?
•  If it were the drug, why did Magnus and Richard travel back to same period?

15.  Would you say the tone of the story is approving? marveling? objective?

16.  What did you think of the end of the book? Was it satisfying to you?

•  What really happened to Richard?
•  Du Maurier once wrote, “What about the hero of The House on the Strand? What did it mean when he dropped the telephone at the end of the book? I don’t really know, but I rather think he was going to be paralysed for life. Don’t you?” Does her statement surprise you?

17.  This book was written in 1969. Is the subject still topical? Would you recommend this book to others?

18.  How do du Maurier’s descriptions deepen and reinforce the themes in the novel?

19.  Growing up, du Maurier disliked the expectations and limitations of being a girl. How well does she write the male perspective? What other attitudes toward society are revealed in her story and characters?

20.  Du Maurier’s only disappointment with The House on the Strand was that a film version was not made. It was her favorite of all her books, and she had written it almost as a film script. Do you think it a story that could be successfully adapted as a movie or miniseries?

 

Other Resources

Daphne du Maurier author site
author interview from Kilmarth, a central location in The House on the Strand
BBC article:  “Walking in du Maurier’s Footsteps”
“The Cornwall of Daphne du Maurier”, originally published in British Heritage magazine

 

If you liked The House on the Strand, try…

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Distant Hours book coverThirteenth Tale book cover    Outlander book cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staff Pick: Little Murders

John staff picks photoAdapted from Jules Feiffer’s play, 1971’s Little Murders is a pitch-black paranoid satire which follows a couple and their supremely dysfunctional family through an absurdly (and disquietingly) chaotic New York City.  Don’t miss Donald Sutherland’s legendary extended cameo as an unorthodox wedding officiant.

Fiction: There Is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton

There Is No Lovely End book coverIt all begins with Hester Garlan, a spitfire outlaw who sees the dead. After a mid-jailbreak encounter results in an inconvenient pregnancy, her sensitivity to rogue spirits is transferred to her child, a son she can’t abandon fast enough. When she discovers her second sight is gone, Hester sets off to trade the boy’s life for her gift’s restoration. Meanwhile, a young woman unsuited to expected society roles is thrown together with the founder of the Winchester rifle empire, and though there is a mutual attraction, happily-ever-after may not be in their tea leaves. There Is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton is a debut that drips with acid-tongued banter, tintype settings, and otherworldly imaginings. It’s a modern take on an old-fashioned tale, and you’ve never read anything quite like it.

New: History, Current Events, and Popular Culture

Every Friday the Library will bring you short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.

For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.

New: History and Current Events

Redeeming the Dream book cover

Double Agent book cover

Dog Who Could Fly book cover

• Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality by David Boies and Theodore B. Olsen
Double Agent by Peter Duffy
The Dog Who Could Fly by Damien Lewis

Spy Among Friends book cover

Virtual Unreality book cover

America_Imagine a World Without Her book cover

• A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal by Ben Macintyre
Virtual Unreality: Just Because the Internet Told You, How Do You Know It’s True? by Charles Seife
America: Imagine a Life Without Her by Dinesh D’Souza

New: Popular Culture

Greta Garbo the Mystery of Style book cover

Yeah Yeah Yeah book cover

Brandos Smile book cover

Greta Garbo: The Mystery of Style, edited by Stefania Ricci
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyoncé by Bob Stanley
Brando’s Smile: His Life, Thought, and Work by Susan L. Mizruchi

Stand Up Straight and Sing book cover

Not to Be Missed book cover

Man on the Run book cover

Stand Up Straight and Sing! by Jessye Norman
Not to Be Missed: 54 Favorites from a Lifetime of Film by Kenneth Turan
Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s by Tom Doyle

Fiction: The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

The Girl With All the Gifts book coverDescribed “as fresh as it is terrifying” by Joss Whedon, The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey is not your average post-apocalyptic story. Every day 10-year-old Melanie wakes up in a prison cell, gets a gun pointed to her head while she is strapped into a wheelchair, goes to class, and then is taken back to her cell. This life is all Melanie knows until she is thrust to the outside world and learns answers to questions she never thought to ask. A study of humanity, power, and making hard decisions, anything can and will happen in this lyrically-written, tense novel.

More...