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Charles and Elizabeth by W. J. Burley
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Charles and Elizabeth (1979)

by W. J. Burley

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From the dust jacket:
W.J. Burley sets his superbly effective Gothic tale in his native Cornwall: a deserted country house in a combe; a glimpse of a girl where no girl should be; an unconsecrated tomb at the centre of an overgrown maze. And then, the confrontation between past and present: between Charles, who died a century ago, and Brian, his mirror image.

The novel is not so much about 'ghosts', in the traditional sense, as about projections from the present into the past. It's Brian, the young schoolmaster investigating the strange phenomena at Tregear House, who becomes the unseen — or rarely glimpsed — observer of the family who lived there in Victorian times. Rapidly he comes to identify with Charles, sharing his thoughts and feelings, even experiencing with him his passion for his sister Elizabeth, and his seduction of a servant girl (who was to become Brian's great-grandmother).
Brian knows how the story will end, and can only watch helplessly as the tragedy unfolds. But there is much that he doesn't know until he lives through it with Charles, and thus the novel is still a voyage of discovery, its course uncharted: often surprising, sometimes alarming, and always intriguing. With this first novel in a new genre, Mr. Burley reveals himself to be a master.
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The tale is set in Cornwall: a deserted country house in a combe; a glimpse of a girl where no girl should be; an unconsecrated tomb at the centre of an overgrown maze. And then, the confrontation between past and present: between Charles, who died a century ago, and Brian his mirror image. The novel is not so much about ghosts, but about projections from the present into the past. Brian knows how the story will end, and can only watch helplessly as the tragedy unfolds...… (more)

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