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The Scapegoat Paperback – Jan 1 2000

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (Jan. 1 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081221725X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812217254
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #79,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'This book is one of her best' TIME AND TIDE --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Dame Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) wrote more than twenty-five acclaimed novels, short stories, and plays, including Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, The House on the Strand, Frenchman's Creek, and "The Birds."

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I left the car by the side of the cathedral, and then walked down the steps into the Place des Jacobins. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Misfit TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 30 2009
Format: Paperback
...lives are forever changed. English John meets French Count Jean and share dinner and drinks as they discuss the remarkable likeness the two share. But Jean's financial problems drive him to render John unconscious, switch identities and leave him in his place to deal with his failing glass factory and fractious family. John soon finds himself in the midst of a mine-field dealing with a pregnant "wife", a couple of mistresses (one of those being his sister-in-law), a "sister" who won't speak to him, a precocious "daughter" and an ailing "mother" with a bad habit.

Despite all the pitfalls, John comes to care for this new family and strives to find ways to make the glass factory a success - until a tragedy strikes that brings an unexpected financial windfall to the family's fortunes - but news of that windfalls also brings back...... More than that I'm not telling - you know I'm not into spoilers and book reports. As with all Du Maurier's books her writing and characterizations are subtle and sublime and I'm once again left with an enigmatic ending that kept me guessing just a little bit more. Four stars.
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By B. Morse on July 11 2004
Format: Paperback
While exploring a theme that is a soap-opera staple, the 'evil twin' scenario that introduces two beings who are so alike one another in appearance that they can conceivably switch places undetected, it is a rare author who can give it an original spin, such as Daphne Du Maurier has done, with a novel written 50 years ago.
Du Maurier is easily becoming one of my favorite authors, with her novels of brooding sentiment and sense of foreboding. Her characters here are no less haunted than those of Rebecca, which is, thus far, my favorite of her works, but are haunted in a much more tangible sense.
John, the protagonist, encounters his 'twin' on a chance meeting in France. Jean, the 'evildoer' of the two, plies him with alcohol, then leaves him to fend for himself in a hotel room, where he awakens and is instantly taken for Jean. Having no money, none of his own clothes, and no means of doing otherwise, John assumes the life of Jean, the Comte De Gue.
Arriving at St. Gilles, John; who muses at the beginning of the novel what it would be like to indeed be a man other than himself, is easily duped into assuming this role, more so than those that he fools with his masquerade. John finds himself intrigued by all the relationships he encounters, with Jean's wife, brother, sister, mother, and child, and a household and glass foundry full of employees. Setting out only to learn about them, he quickly insinuates himself into their lives in a way to undo the years of emotional abuse and suffering that Jean has inflicted upon them, as he grows more and more fond of them all.
Each of the characters he encounters has their own spectre to bear; Francoise, the pregnant wife of Jean De Gue, carries a child knowing that her first born prefers Jean over her...
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Format: Paperback
How anyone can say that "The Scapegoat" is slow leaves me dumbfounded. The week in the life of British historian and lecturer, John, posing as Jean, the impoverished Comte of the chateau de Gue is a journey of the mythic hero, going off into unknown territory and accomplishing a mission where he is thereby transformed. Before the switch, John feels like a voyeur, reading and studying people from a distance rather than actually living in the midst of them. Once he is immersed in Jean's life, he cannot help but feel---as the comte, every decision he makes, effects numerous lives. Like other Du Maurier male characters, John finds as a male he holds the power; the woman flutter about him, allowing and acquiesing to his indisputed control. John believes he becomes a newer,better version of Jean as he interacts with Jean's mother, sister, wife, brother and wife; what he doesn't realize is that in enacting this transformation he can never go back to the life he once knew;his newfound strength sacrifices the 'scapegoat' of the title; with this death, the chateau and its remaining personel are revitalized with a new life.

Du Maurier's undertaking of having John speak in a first person narrative succeeds on every level. The reader experiences all the surprises and revelations through John's eyes and tender heart. Her portrayal of Marie-Noel, Jean's eleven year old daughter, borders on genius; the character springs off the pages, a concatenation of cartwheeling free spirit and religious waif, confused by the seemingly nonsensical activities of the adults around her.
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Format: Paperback
The Scapegoat is certainly a very curious novel. Its premise (two physically identical strangers met and change roles) is in no way believable. And Du Maurier's writing style can be described as elegent yet a bit dull. However for some inexplicable reason The Scapegoat is a memorable read; I found myself completely taken in by the story despite its silly premise.
To understand why, I think the answer lies beneath the surface of the story. After the two physically identical men switch roles, Du Maurier focuses attention on the lonely, nice professor who is suddenly forced into the role of a French landowner, businessman and ... cruel monster. It's fascinating how he pulls off not only the role reversal but digs into the twisted hearts of the people (spouse, family and friend) around him. I found the emotional, humane side of the story to be most compelling.
Bottom line: a ridiculous story made fascinating and memorable by the ever talented Ms. Du Maurier. However I fear the author's style in slowly building the story might turn people away before they reach page 50.
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