Twenty years ago I read my first Peter Ackroyd novel: Hawksmoor. It flitted between now and the seventeenth century when architect Nicholas Hawksmoor, somewhat in the shadow of Christopher Wren, was building some London churches and incorporating some rather odd occult features. The seventeenth century portions of the book were written in a brilliant pastiche of the then style. I thought it was a wonderful book.
The House of Doctor Dee bears many resemblances. Matthew inherits a strange house in Clerkenwell. With his friend Daniel, a transvestite who has some strange connection with his dead father, Matthew discovers that the house was once owned by famous Elizabethan magician and alchemist Dr John Dee. The narrative jumps back and forth between the sixteenth century doings of the strange doctor and the increasingly haunted Matthew.
But it just didn't work for me. The ramblings of Dr Dee are so interleaved with his occult imaginings that I found it hard to read. There are dream sequences that are not much different from day reality. Matthew also has dreams and it is difficult to decipher whether the ghosts are in his head or real. The story seems to have little structure and there are a lot of events that just don't seem to fit: why does Matthew defecate in his own garden and who is the tramp with the dog who seems to defy time?
Perhaps it was just a little too weird for me. June 2013; 277 pages
- I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57