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The Scapegoat ❮BOOKS❯ ✺ The Scapegoat ✰ Author Daphne du Maurier – Alternate cover hereBy chance two men one English the other French meet in a provincial railway station Their resemblance is uncanny and they spend the next few hours talking and drinking until at las Alternate cover hereBy chance two men one English the other French meet in a provincial railway station Their resemblance is uncanny and they spend the next few hours talking and drinking until at last John the Englishman falls into a drunken stupor It's to be his last carefree moment for when he wakes his French companion has stolen his identity and disappeared So John steps into the Frenchman's shoes and faces a variety of perplexing roles as owner of a chateau director of a failing business head of a fractious family and master of nothingGripping and complex The Scapegoat is a masterful exploration of doubling and identity and of the dark side of the self.

10 thoughts on “The Scapegoat

  1. Candi Candi says:

    My only complaint with reading a Daphne du Maurier novel is that every book I pick up for some time afterwards pales in comparison The depth of the characterizations the richly described settings and the undercurrent of suspense throughout never fail to enthrall me No less so with this one The Scapegoat I found myself once again under du Maurier’s spell John is an Englishman well educated in everything French – the language the history and the culture He passes on all his knowledge as a lecturer at a university; he travels in France with ease What he lacks however is a connection with the people At the tail end of a tour in this country John has fallen victim to a feeling of melancholy of failure He feels as an outsider both in his own country of England as well as in France He yearns to feel a part of the people a kinship with his fellow human beings Years of study years of training the fluency with which I spoke their language taught their history described their culture had never brought me closer to the people themselves I was too diffident too conscious of my own reserve My knowledge was library knowledge and my day by day experience no deeper than a tourist’s gleanings The urge to know was with me and the ache The smell of the soil the gleam of the wet roads the faded paint of shutters masking windows through which I should never look the grey faces of houses whose doors I should never enter were to me an everlasting reproach a reminder of distance of nationality Others could force an entrance and break the barrier down not I I should never be a Frenchman never be one of themAnyone that has ever hungered to be a part of a group but yet always felt as a stranger will relate to John here What should happen however if you had the opportunity to take someone’s place? Would you do it? When John bumps into an exact likeness of himself in a tavern he is given precisely this chance While John is a lonely man with a feeling of emptiness inside Comte Jean de Gué claims to have only the problem of having too many ‘human’ possessions Jean wants to play a clever game – that of switching identities with John and assuming each other’s lives When John wakes the next morning stripped of his own clothes and everything he had on his person what choice does he have but to put on another man’s clothes take his suitcase and assume this new life? Just as an actor paints old lines upon a young face or hides behind the part he must create so the old anxious self that I knew too well could be submerged and forgotten and the new self would be someone without a care without responsibility calling himself Jean de Gué If only life were this simple If only human relationships were straightforward with little or no difficulties no web of intricacies to disentangle John as the new Comte Jean de Gué finds himself taking on a failing business and a family with secrets and complex feelings John will come to know Jean through this family and his interactions with them Jean may not be the kind of person our narrator would wish to emulate if given a choice But isn’t he somehow responsible for these people now that he has allowed himself to be an accomplice to this deception? Does he want Jean to fail because he feels a victim in this charade? Perhaps John is Jean de Gué’s scapegoat or maybe another is fulfilling this role in the drama that plays out in this wounded family I was completely absorbed in this book The psychological complexities and moral dilemmas the Gothic like atmosphere and the superior writing that I have come to expect from Daphne du Maurier left me thoroughly satisfied You really must read this if you have not There’s so much to this author than just her masterpiece Rebecca and you would be missing out if you didn’t immerse yourself in every last bit she had to offer – I know I will

  2. Elyse Walters Elyse Walters says:

    Thank You to the MANY readers who came before me I'm no longer a virgin to author Daphne Du Mauier Special thanks to Jean Sara and Candy Two menone English John the narrator the other French Jean de Gue meet by chance one evening It's like looking into a mirror they look almost identical other than the color of their eyes At the start of the novel we learn that John on holiday in France was a historian and gave lectures in England about his country and it's past Not married and has no children And even though he was English he studied French for years He taught their history and described their culture however he felt like an outsider an alien He wasn't one of them but wished to be He wished to be bound by a family share their laughter and sorrow Due to his depression he walked the streets at night in the rain and knew he must get drunk He also was thinking of spending a few days at a monastery in hopes of finding the courage to go on living before returning to England Over drinks in a bar John shares with Jean de Gue how as an individual he feels like a failure Jean de Gue tells John that we've all 'failed' everyone has He tells him The secret of life is to recognize the fact early on and become reconciled Then it no longer matters John says It does matter I am not reconciled During this evening the men continue drinking and talking Jean de Gue takes John to a restaurantdriving John's car after all he knows it city best and brings them to a shabby hotel and says Sometimes these places can be useful USEFUL FOR WHAT??? After the fourth drinkthe men let down their guards John continued to talk about loneliness death and the empty shell of his personal world Jean de Gue master of a chateau and director of a failing business says You complain that your life is empty to me it sounds like paradise An apartment to yourself no family no business worries Jean de Gue's voice changed its clear he had personal problems too felt resentment He said he had a sister who only thinks about religion and nothing else He thinks the only motive force in human nature is GREED People in Jean de Gue's life were never satisfied from his point of view So I ask if you have read this farwhich of these two men's life sounds most attractive to you? Would you rather be without a family with no responsibilities but also feel lonely depressed and empty? Or have many people counting on you wife mother daughter brother sister in law friends with benefits business associates and feel resentful? And if you could step into one of these men's lives by trading places as a stranger actor taking over the role how do you think you might make a difference? And how might you do harm? In THIS storywe get the opportunity to watch how the entire scenario this crazy game so to speak affects each person As this story plays out we watch how brilliantly John steps into Jean de Gue's lifeFunny transition scene had to chuckle a little Jean de Gue had acted wrongly He ran away from his life he escaped the emotions that he himself created John brought forth 'his' emotions and whether right or wrong I think even the most skeptical readers can suspend disbelief in this masterfully written fiction novelI had faith that what John was searching for would somehow transform not only him but heal bruised family members with empathy and love But how? And at what cost? When John first stepped into Jean de Gue's life he noticed that his mother looked frightened His sister silent His brother hostile His sister in law angry His wife crying and his daughter threw a tantrum The dog ignored him There are some OH BOY situations sticky as taffy Also this story is simply a compelling fantasy ride with marvelous prose to boot The ending of this story calls for discussion Personally I think it fits Off to join my group and read what others are saying A book so much richer than many of the newer fiction books I often read Just sayin A DELICIOUS BOOK At least one of my top 20 favorites of all times

  3. Fergus Fergus says:

    ‘WHO KNOWS WHAT EVIL LURKS IN THE HEART OF MEN?’‘The SHADOW Knows’with assorted Backstage Evil Cackles WWII Era Radio ShowBack in the JFK Era my grandmother belonged to the Book of the Month Club Is that still around? Anyway one December she got a new book everybody was raving about back then The Scapegoat The deal was if you didn’t mail the book back in time it was yours But to her it seemed the perfect Christmas gift for my young self I never knew WHY until I finally started to read it sixty odd years later thanks to my friend Sara’s recommendation on GRJohn is leading a drifting meaningless life Until he meets his Shadow the evil Frenchman Jean his Exact Double Evil Jean conks him out with booze changes John's identity into his own privileged noble one then exits stage right John is left to himself in a strange château with a strange new identity and even stranger new family Will John fool them all and turn his madcap Shadow's Evil plans into Good and finally give his own life purpose in the process?Okay Now the reason why my grandmother gave it to meI was like John as a kid a reader; a dreamer; an underachiever What was I worth to the world at large?Perhaps uite a lot You see the evil In this world never sleeps but we’ll never know it if we’re hypnotized by all the glitz glam of the entertainment worldNo we won’t know But the world knows US And it wants to exchange identities with us And totally assimilate our innocence into its own cynical essence Some folks call it coming of ageAnd that’s the trick the worldly sophisticate Jean plays with his naïve lookalikeDon’t believe me? Take a look around you at all those vast legions of cynical weary burnt out souls lost in their private hellsYes there was a wise warning in my Grandmother’s gift on the last Christmas of my preteensBe careful HOW you matureAnd keep your DREAMS IDEALS ALIVEThis classic gem is a piece of riveting edge of your seat suspense in the best tradition of the ueen of CliffhangersWith all kinds of deeper meanings for EACH of usAnd NOW you know just how wise my dear old grandmother was

  4. Bionic Jean Bionic Jean says:

    Have you ever wanted to run away from your life? What would happen if you suddenly had the chance to; would you grasp the nettle? Or what if a new life was imposed on you whether you liked it or not? Such is the premise of Daphne du Maurier's 1957 novel The ScapegoatThe Scapegoat is reminiscent of novels such as The Prisoner of Zenda and according to one of Daphne du Maurier's biographers this rollicking adventure was a favourite story of Daphne's when she was a little girl But it also owes a great deal to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as Daphne du Maurier also explores how two selves begin to feel as if they are part of the same person the viewpoint character In fact it is neither a straightforward adventure story as in Anthony Hope's tale nor a dark study of two individuals; personalities within the same body as in Robert Louis Stevenson's classic horror story It lies somewhere between the two yet is also an unsettling tale full of suspense sometimes even having a dream like uality Daphne du Maurier had the idea for The Scapegoat when she was in France in 1955 to research the lives of her ancestors the Busson Mathurins who were glass blowers She did subseuently write the novel for which she intended this research entitling it The Glassblowers 1963 But before writing it she became distracted by a number of incidents that happened to her in France which inspired the plot of The Scapegoat published in 1957 She apparently wrote it at record speed finishing within six months and then collapsed with nervous exhaustionOne of the triggers was that while out for a walk in a suare in a French town Daphne du Maurier saw a man who looked identical to someone she happened to know According to one of her biographers Judith Cook she then watched a family scene through a window and began to put the two incidents together in her feverish imagination Typically she began to wonder about the people; who they were and what their secrets might be She imagined herself suddenly transported into their midst listening to their conversation perhaps even becoming one of themand so the seeds of The Scapegoat were sownAnother instance provides part of the novel's setting Houses often seem to take on a life of their own in Daphne du Maurier's novels For example Manderley in Rebecca seems to be imbued with as much of a presence to be as much a character as any of the actual people in the book Indeed in her own life she seems to have had an almost obsessive love for her Menabilly the house she rented for so many years Here in France as part of her research Daphne du Maurier discovered a house that had belonged to one of her ancestors two hundred years earlier Exploring the derelict buildings she saw fragments of the glass they had made still there scattered by the wind She used these impressions and experiences drawing on them to create an atmospheric dramatic suspense novel set in France In The Scapegoat her ancestral glass blowing foundry became the failing business of the de Gué family They in turn were depicted as grand in fact minor aristocrats the Comte and Comtesse And instead of writing herself into the story the author took on the guise of a male narrator one of five occasions in major novels when she did thisThe narrator and viewpoint character is an Englishman named John At the start of the novel we learnt that John is dissatisfied with his life as a university lecturer and tending to become depressed with what he sees as a futile life It is evident that he is travelling through France where he meets a man who eerily is his double in looks; a confident French count Jean de Gué Intrigued despite himself John plays along with the Count's wishes indulging in a night of drinking and staying in an anonymous downbeat hotel overnight On waking he discovers that the man has disappeared taking all John's own clothes and belongings and leaving him to play the role of the Comte Jean de Gué Thus we have the novel's basic premiseAt first confused John then becomes angry filled with an intense desire to get away from that dingy shabby hotel and never set eyes on it again and as my anger rose and self disgust took possession of meAnd a little later he describes being possessed by a reckless feeling I had never known before the sensation that I myself did not matter any no one could call me to account for any action For the first time I was freeHe thus become his double's scapegoat and the events which follow enmesh him further in deceit and duplicity which at first he considers to be in itself wrong but uickly comes to regard as a means of basic survival My sense of power was unbounded I felt my bluff to be superb and it must have worked My self confidence mounting every moment I recalled my success the night before little scraps of family history fell on my ear what I gleaned would have to be sorted and sifted at leisureJohn learns about the idiosyncratic family he has been thrust amidst He learns how his doppelgänger had influenced the destinies of these individuals mercilessly twisting their lives to his own purpose Gradually John begins to feel sympathy for the family who have accepted him John totally at face value They have treated him variously with the emotions he has seemed to lack in his life so far; that is with love or hatred but rarely with indifference And as the novel proceeds we become aware that John has become emotionally committed to this family within the space of seven days He determines to use his family position as a tool to influence both the workers in the factory and his individual family member's lives for the better Although a scapegoat he is desperate to learn everything about the family intrigues deceptions jealousies and murders both the events in the past and also those in the presentIndeed there are at least two other contenders for the description of scapegoat Either the daughter or the wife could be seen in these terms Marie Noel seems over eager to sacrifice herself for her father as does Françoise the Count's wife The intensity of the little girl Marie Noel's relationship with her father is clearly a reflection of that between the author Daphne du Maurier and her own father the charismatic actor manager Gerald du Maurier But Daphne du Maurier's descriptions of the little girl's religious fervour as well as that of her aunt Blanche serve well to heighten the tension at various points It borders on the macabre and makes the novel seem almost a gothic tale All Daphne du Maurier's novels are tightly plotted and this one like My Cousin Rachel is full of suspense coincidence hints and dark secrets The narrator continually suspects various members of his family including his doppelgänger of not only duplicity but also of some evil deeds in the past The whole novel is driven by the narrator's desperate desire for knowledge and understanding He never reflects back on what has led him to this point or what his life has been so far but always concentrates on remaining undiscovered and as the novel proceeds on influencing the future of his adopted family for their goodAs with many of Daphne du Maurier's novels there are so many elements of mystery that it is sometimes rather like reading a detective story She often drops hints to the reader; clues carefully planted so that the reader is able to puzzle out the various roles and relationships before the viewpoint character John does We suspect Renée's behaviour for example before John seems to have an inkling of why she seems so overly flirtatious and petulant And we know who the woman Béla in the neighbouring village of Villars must beWe see as the novel proceeds a merging of the two JohnJeans The feeling of power of triumph that I was outwitting this little group of unsuspecting people had turned again to shame It seemed to me now that I wanted Jean de Gué to have been a different sort of man I did not want to discover at each step that he was worthless I had exchanged my own negligible self for a worthless personality He had the supreme advantage over me in that he had not cared Or had he after all? Was this why he had disappeared?And later I knew that everything I had said or done had implicated me further driven me deeper bound me closely still to that man whose body was not my body whose mind was not my mind whose thoughts and actions were a world apart and yet whose inner substance was part of my nature part of my secret selfAt this point just less than half way through the dream like uality is notched up a step and we realise that John is beginning to perceive another darker personality hidden within his own self much as the character Doctor Jekyll did but subtly Although Jekyll became subsumed and ultimately destroyed by the malignant influence of Hyde John conversely seems to become self possessed and confident through his exploration of his darker self He seems to become in a sense a complete character and his past a mere shadowThere are recurring themes in this novel Take the motif of a broken ornament for instance In Rebecca the episode where the new wife accidentally destroys a valuable china ornament given to her predecessor Rebecca on her marriage and becoming a particular favourite is powerfully symbolic Here there is a similar event involving Anne Marie and her mother and a porcelain cat and dog the only things I possess and value in this houseReal life dogs are another device There are heart stopping moments where the readers wonder whether the dog will recognise the supplanted character of John in the place of César's master the Count In Rebecca the dog is suspicious for a long time of the new wife In both cases the apprehension devolves on the viewpoint character When César the dog finally accepts John the author says as he wagged his tail I felt that I had scored a triumphThe writing style too feels very like Daphne du Maurier's other novels There is much description to add colour and mood On uite a few occasions she will use personification or even the pathetic fallacy to influence and further heighten the atmosphere such as when There was no break in the weeping sky to give directionAt one point halfway through the novel John feels that he is trapped in a corner He feels impotent and that whatever he does will not work; he is sinking further and further into a morass of his own making The author describes the scene outside the house Immediately beside me was a gargoyle's head ears flattened slits for eyes the jutting lips forming a spout for rain The leaded guttering was choked with leaves and when rain came the whole would turn to mud and pour from the gargoyle's mouth in a turbid stream seeping down the walls swirling in the runways choking and gurgling above the gargoyle head driving sideways like arrows to the windows stinging the panes there would be no other sound for hour after hour but the falling rain and the flood of leaves and rubble through the gargoyle's mouthOn another occasion when the reader is finally about to learn the truth about the mysterious Maurice Duval A fluttering sound by the window made me turn my head It was a butterfly the last of the long summer woken by sunshine seeking escape from the cobwebs that imprisoned it I released the butterfly from its prison and it hovered a moment on the sill then settled once amongst the cobwebsThe novel hurtles to its conclusion within its short compressed time frame as John desperately tries to right the wrongs as he sees them Increasingly he is committed yet contrarily also unsure I wondered how much further I had to fall and if the sense of shame that overwhelmed me was merely wallowing in darkness I had played the coward long enoughWhen the dog César drags him at reckless speed through the woods it is as if John's own darker side is dogging him I dragged myself to my feet and with my hell hound in tow started off once through the vastness of the wood feeling as the poet did before me that my companion would be with me through the nights and through the days and down the arches of the years and I should never be rid of him Even the structure of this one sentence gives the impression of hurtling towards doom It does not let up; there is no breakTowards the conclusion the identification or perhaps the confusion or melding of the two characters JohnJean becomes ever apparent Here John refers to an event long past but seems to also draws truths from it about his doppelgänger I knew that what had happened on a dark night nearly fifteen years ago had not come about by chance but was something planned and done deliberately by a man without heart or feeling who saw perhaps in the other someone finer than himself possessing all the ualities he himself lackedYet he still fears discovery she knows at last I've given myself away But I was wrongI could not ask forgiveness for something I had not done As scapegoat I could only bear the faultOn the penultimate page the transmogrification is complete I walked on through darkness undergrowth and moss and now I had no present and no past the self who stumbled had no heart and mindwishing to condemn him it was as if it was the shadow I condemned the man who had moved and spoken and acted in his place and not Jean de Gué at all It's no use I'm not describing the man you knowYou are but you're describing yourself as wellThere was the fear Which one of us was real? It struck me suddenly that if I should now look at myself in a mirror I should see no reflectionThis is a disturbing tale and it comes as no surprise to learn how emotionally drained and disturbed the author was on its completion Events in Daphne du Maurier's own life were mirrored within the novel and the author became increasingly jittery and confused as to which had actually happened first When she wrote about the character Françoise needing a blood transfusion in real life shortly afterwards her daughter Tessa gave birth to a son who needed two blood transfusions Her biographer Judith Cook says of the odd coincidences and connections Daphne began to find it all rather frightening And another biographer Margaret Forster reprints a letter which Daphne du Maurier wrote in the same year of The Scapegoat's publication 1957 just after her Daphne's husband Tommy had had a nervous breakdown She herself was also on the verge of nervous collapse In it she talks about her novel It is my story and it is his also We are both doubles So it is with everyone Every one of us has his or her dark side Which is to overcome the other? This is the purpose of the book And it ends as you know with the problem unsolved except that the suggestion there when I finished it was that the two sides of that man's nature had to fuse together to give birth to a third well balanced Know Thyself view spoilerThe one man went back home having been given a hint that his family in future would be different would be adjusted; the other man went to the monastery for a space of time to learn what to do with love hide spoiler

  5. Mary Beth Mary Beth says:

    45 stars I have read several of Daphne Du Maurier's books and loved every single one Rebecca is my favorite but this book came very close to itI will be reading of her books What would you do if you came face to face with yourself? That's what happens to John an Englishman on holiday in France when he meets his exact double a Frenchman called Jean de Gue John agrees to go for a drink with Jean but falls into a drunken stupor and wakes up in a hotel room to find that Jean has disappeared taking John's clothes and identity documents with himWhen Jean's chauffeur arrives at the hotel John is unable to convince him of what has happened and ends up accompanying the chauffeur to Jean de Gue's chateau where the Frenchman's unsuspecting family assume that he really is Jean de Gue Naturally they expect him to continue running the family glass making business and arranging shooting parties things that John has absolutely no experience in Before long it starts to become obvious that Jean is using John as a scapegoat; Jean's family and business are both in a mess and he wants someone else to have to deal with themThroughout the book I was forced to revise my opinions once or twice about what was really going on If everything in the book is supposed to be taken literally then we need to suspend belief at times could two men really be so identical that even their mother wife and daughter can't tell the difference? There is also another way to interpret the story one which goes deeper into the psychology of identity I won't say any about that here but if you read the book this theory may occur to you too I found the book very thought provokingAs usual du Maurier's writing is wonderfully atmospheric She has a way of making you feel as though you're actually there in the hotel room in Le Mans the grounds of Jean de Gue's estate in the French countryside and Bela's antiue shop in the town of VillarsWhen John first arrives at the de Gue chateau every member of the household is a stranger to him but we and John are given enough clues to gradually figure out who each person is and what their relationship is to Jean de Gue From the neglected pregnant wife and the hostile elder sister to the resentful younger brother and the religious ten year old daughter every character is well drawn and memorableAnother thing I love about Daphne du Maurier's writing is her ability to always keep the reader guessing right to the final page and sometimes afterwards too This was a fascinating and unusual story

  6. Sara Sara says:

    If you have ever read any of Daphne du Maurier’s novels you will immediately recognize what I mean when I say the narrator here is another of her identity free individuals Like the new Mrs De Winter in Rebecca or the tour guide brother in Flight of the Falcon this narrator is a person without any sense of importance sense of self or sense of his own value He is so unloved and disconnected that he can assume another man’s life and involve himself immediately in the other man’s world to the point of burying himself inside the other man’s skin A scapegoat a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings mistakes or faults of others What an inspired title for Daphne du Maurier’s thrilling novel of exchanged identity When John an Englishman whose area of expertise is France meets his doppelganger the Comte Jean de Gue he finds himself unexpectedly tricked into trading places He goes from having no life or ties to being responsible for the complexities of a chateaux and the lives that revolve around it and he finds out that the life he has assumed is one of a dubious and sometimes cruel individual One had no right to play with other people's lives One should not interfere with their emotions A word a look a smile a frown did something to another human being waking response or aversion and a web was woven which had no beginning and no end spreading outward and inward too merging entangling so that the struggle of one depended on the struggle of the otherAs our narrator uncovers the secrets of Jean’s life he begins to insert his own sensibilities into the lives he controls But does he see these people as they are or does he supply his on version of them? Does he help them or does he simply confuse and disrupt their lives? What would they think if they knew he was just a stranger playing at being their son husband father brother lover or master? And what does he discover about himself along the way? Nobody writes romantic gothic fiction like du Maurier She knows how to make something subtle important She has great command of the psychological thriller and weaves her tales to that you are never far from the edge of your seat She writes descriptions that turn buildings into characters and characters that emerge as real peopleIf you have never read du Maurier you are missing one of the great writers If you have not read this book you are missing a treat

  7. Andrew Smith Andrew Smith says:

    I must admit to feeling a little nervous about taking on this book Novels of 'a certain age’ really aren’t my thing I seem to struggle with everything about them If it's not the stilted or overblown language it is a plot that feels horribly tame and dated If there’s a phobia attached to reading these books then I have it I’d never read a book by Daphne du Maurier before so I wasn’t sure uite which I'd get the overblown or the stilted but I was confident the plot would be asinine And guess what I was right But I was also wrongJohn a discontented English academic travelling in France meets an unhappy Frenchman who by chance is his doppelganger They share a drink and then a few Before long John has passed out and when he wakes he realises that his identity has been stolen – Jean his Gallic lookalike has run off with his clothes wallet and car This is the point where the story takes a fairly unlikely turn if it hadn’t already in that John decides to live Jean’s life moving in with his family and picking up the loose threads of the life Jean had left behind Strange unlikely both? Yes But stranger still is the fact that I slowly became drawn into the story and significantly invested in the outcomeThe language is rich and hugely descriptive – all in a good way – and as the tale gallops along and problems seem to crawl out of the woodwork Can John possibly add value here can he right the wrongs and solve some of the problems? He is certainly going to have his hands full as there is much to do if he is to right this particular ship view spoilerBut the uestion that really bugs me is why doesn’t anyone seem to notice that he’s not Jean – not his brother his mother or even his wife and child? hide spoiler

  8. JimZ JimZ says:

    I did not see the ending coming I thought I knew how it was going to endDame du Maurier it appeared to me was right near the end leading me and other readers down the primrose path to the denouement Not so fast 😮I had read two other books by Dame Daphne du Maurier and very much liked them Rebecca 1938 and My Cousin Rachel 1951 I had never heard of this book originally published in 1957 BUT SEE BELOW until several months ago it got a favorable review from a GR friend So I put it on my TBR listgot it from the library and devoured it in one day The edition I got was by the University of Pennsylvania Press and it was already in its 5th printing I wonder why a university press would be publishing Daphne du Maurieron the back cover it was stated that The House on the Strand was also available via the university press The basic plot is that a Frenchman in his early 40s runs into another man an Englishman in his early 40s who is a body double of him doppelgänger By clever means and not to his liking the Englishman finds himself forced to impersonate the Frenchman and inherits the Frenchman’s life and familya brother and a sister and a mother and they’re all messed up to varying degrees and a wife and she is unhappy because her husband has been essentially ignoring her and only married her for a potential buttload of money if she produces a son for him complicated legal arrangement regarding her dowry Oh and that’s just the beginninghe inherits a precocious 11 year old daughter a sister in law who he is having an affair with a valet a mistress a glass factory that is floundering And given this is a du Maurier novel there have been sinister things happening well into the pastthat this Englishman now fake Frenchman is going to have to deal with Perhaps vaguely reminiscent of ‘Heaven Can Wait’ a film from the late 1970s starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie and a gaggle of other good actorsalthough that was a comedylove story when push comes to shove Not a whole lot to laugh at in this novel In fact nothing really Which doesn’t mean this novel is not good — I think it’s pretty damn good And I am glad I read it 😊It held my interest pretty much throughout although maybe about two thirds of the way through my interest flagged but then accelerated again — just a minor bump in the road Otherwise I think I would have rated it as ‘5’ rather than ‘4’but in my rating system a ‘4’ is “a memorable read and if there is anything else the author has written I would be uite interested in it” thank you very much😢I just looked at an Excel database I have kept for some 15 years or so and have discovered I read this in 2001 How could I forget reading this book??? It’s like I read it for the first time today In fact you can see from my review above I was assuming this was the first tine I had laid eyes on this book I know some books are certainly worth reading two timesbut yeesh Maybe I should be taking a buttload of Prevogen After all it contains an ingredient found in jellyfish Or so the ad saysI wonder if jellyfish have good memories? Apparently they have better memories than I🤨ReviewsFrom a blog site a sci fi newsletter a very good review was made into a movie in 1959 starring Alec Guinness and Bette Davis I am not sure it was a hit actually this site said it lost over 300000 when all was said and done Reinforces the truism that the book is typically better than the movie Although it was based on the book the screenplay was written by Gore Vidal and Robert Hamer

  9. Carol She& Carol She& says:

    No idea why this was showing as I had rated this book when I haven't even finished itGee I got so many likes when I was just having a whinge I don't know why I'm bothering to write a review 😁 Well I do know why This is one of the best books I've read this year it is definitely the best fiction that is not a rereadI read it as a straight doppelganger story and still found it wonderfully complex du Maurier's skilled writing made me believe the unbelievable But some of the other people doing this group read in the Retro Reads Group have found deeper spiritual philosophical meaning in the writing and I really want to sit down and read this book all over againI'm amazed I'm gobsmacked this is how classic fiction should make one feel To be trusted with making your own interpretation by a writer is such a gift

  10. Judy Judy says:

    Scapegoat has an intriguing history as a word Originally in the Old Testament book of Leviticus the High Priest confessed the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement over the head of a live goat which was then allowed to escape taking the sins with it From this religious tradition developed the meaning of a person group or thing who takes the blame for the mistakes or crimes of others In Daphne du Maurier's excellent novel an English history professor on his way home from holiday in France is reflecting on his unfulfilling and lonely life when he meets a man in a restaurant The man Jean de Gue is his double but of a very different character By means of alcohol possibly a drug and trickery the main character wakes up the next day with Jean de Gue's luggage and clothes finds that his doppelganger has vanished and that he is being picked up by de Gue's faithful servant Feeling that the police will think him mad feeling in truth somewhat mad he allows himself to be taken to a rundown chateau in the country where he is not suspected by anyone in the family In this post WWII setting the three generations live in genteel poverty amid bitterness and a failing glass factory The man takes up Jean de Gue's life penetrating the several mysteries of the family's past and in a bumbling fashion manages to fix everything and restore the family to happiness All the while though the reader is hoping this man will succeed du Maurier in her inimitable fashion leaves you feeling that it cannot possibly end well Of course it doesn't but the final scenes do support the title and the theme of the scapegoat What makes this book so good is the way the author handles all the improbabilities of the story She had me willingly suspending my disbelief most of the time Even when I could not believe that the family members did not realize it was a different man I was so engrossed in the story that I did not care I also love how this writer always makes some point of wisdom about life in her tales and she did not fail me in this one

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