Wednesday, May 14, 2008

2008 Book 40: The Scapegoat

Book #:40

Book Title:The Scapegoat

Author:Daphne du Maurier


Pub. Date:1956


Started:May 11, 2008

Finished:May 13, 2008

Time to Read:3 Days

Back Cover / Inside Flap:(The dust cover to this book, if it ever even existed, is long gone. Synopsis from Amazon.)

"Someone jolted my elbow as I drank and said, 'Je vous demande pardon,' and as I moved to give him space he turned and stared at me and I at him, and I realized, with a strange sense of shock and fear and nausea all combined, that his face and voice were known to me too well.

I was looking at myself."

Two men--one English, the other French--meet by chance in a provincial railway station and are astounded that they are so much alike that they could easily pass for each other. Over the course of a long evening, they talk and drink. It is not until he awakes the next day that John, the Englishman, realizes that he may have spoken too much. His French companion is gone, having stolen his identity. For his part, John has no choice but to take the Frenchman's place--as master of a chateau, director of a failing business, head of a large and embittered family, and keeper of too many secrets.

Loaded with suspense and crackling wit, The Scapegoat tells the double story of the attempts by John, the imposter, to escape detection by the family, servants, and several mistresses of his alter ego, and of his constant and frustrating efforts to unravel the mystery of the enigmatic past that dominates the existence of all who live in the chateau.

Hailed by the New York Times as a masterpiece of "artfully compulsive storytelling," The Scapegoat brings us Daphne du Maurier at the very top of her form.

Review:This book came with my house. Seriously. When my husband and I bought our house in early 2007, we discovered that the previous owner, a sweet old lady, had deliberately left behind quite a few trinkets for us to find, including a couple dozen books. (The books were mostly dated editions or pop culture from decades past, so quite honestly, we more enjoyed the trinkets of the silver candlestick and bowl variety, of which there were several. Neat stuff!)

You probably recognize this author's name from her more-well-known book, Rebecca. You know...the one that starts with that most-famous of famous first lines, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." You know - the one with the creepy housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers? Read more classic fiction! (I'll add that book to my list to read and review later this year.)

Anyhow, if I was expecting anything along the lines of Rebecca in cracking the spine of this particular tome, I was in for a shock. This book is just odd. Although the story line is somewhat interesting - two men randomly meeting who look to be identical twins and unintentionally swap lives - the plot itself fails to compel and carry interest. First, the book is terribly dated. I'm not just talking about technologies that were native to that decade and not to our own - I'm talking the whole she-bang. Second, there were entire portions of the book that were simply irrelevant. Quite honestly, I skimmed parts of it. And you might die of old age while waiting for the next chapter break!

If you're interested in reading a lesser-known title by a decently well-known author, give this one a try. But if you're looking for a riveting read, pass on by.

If you have read or are planning to read this book, please make sure to stop back by and leave me a comment to let me know your own thoughts!

From my library to yours,


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