TO SLEEP NO MORE by Dinah Lampitt


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Lampitt's US debut (her three previous novels were published only in the UK) is a murky blending of supernatural fantasy and historical romance, covering three different time periods: the 14th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The glue that holds this book together is its setting, a Sussex village, site of a castle belonging, circa 1330, to John of Stratford, Archbishop of Canterbury and Edward Ill's right-hand man. John marries off his young brother, a half-wit named Colin, to lovely Oriel de Sharndene, then arranges a romance between her and a young Gascon squire. The arrangement produces an heir for Colin (who is assumed too dim to father his own child) and tragedy, with Oriel dying in childbirth and the Machiavellian prelate doing the Gascon in. The fraught romantic triangle is repeated in the early 1600's, during James I's reign, though this time its chief player is a witch, Jenna Cassilowe; and again in the 1720's, when the aristocratic Henrietta Trevor falls in love with a dashing red-haired highwayman and runs away to Virginia with him. In the third act of this drama, there's an inquiring local surgeon who experiments with hypnotism, thus bringing to light all the players' prior incarnations. Lampitt gets the atmosphere right, but her characters remain obscure forms in the historical tapestry. No sooner does she populate one world than she moves on to another, all in the service of spinning out the supernatural. The result: an unenthralling hybrid.

Pub Date: May 27th, 1988
Publisher: St. Martin's