CHARLES AND ELIZABETH by W. J. Burley

CHARLES AND ELIZABETH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Burley, most familiar as a grim student of psychopathic situations, turns occult-ish here--as schoolteacher-narrator Brian Kenyon tells (writing in his mental-ward room) of his visionary experiences at a deserted manse near the sea in Cornwall, into which he wandered one day. At first it was just a silent figure; but, returning again and again and entering a trance-like state, Brian seems to see the entire young lives of the manse's mid-19th-century residents--in particular young Charles Bottrell (who died mysteriously at an early age) and his sister Elizabeth. Furthermore, under hypnosis with a guru-doctor named Gupta, Brian becomes Charles Bottrell. What's going on here? Well, as Brian soon realizes (after seeing vision-Charles in bed with a servant-girl named Kenyon) that he is indeed an illegitimate direct descendant. And ""the ghost of Charles Bottrell must be exorcised if I am to fully recover my own identity."" So Brian sticks with his visions, blending identities--and tunes in on some Charles/ Elizabeth incest: the cause of Charles' eventual suicide (when Elizabeth married). Smoothly written, with a nicely creepy matter-of-fact tone, but really only for occult believers.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1981
Publisher: Walker