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The Scapegoat Paperback – Jan 1 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (Jan. 1 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780812217254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812217254
  • ASIN: 081221725X
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #314,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

"A good original novel, well tinged with nightmare."--"Times Literary Supplement"

"A good original novel, well tinged with nightmare."--"Times Literary Supplement"

"A good original novel, well tinged with nightmare." "Times Literary Supplement""

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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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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I have always been a fan of DuMaurier, her writing style and her personal insights in to her characters. I had read this book many years ago and have started to read all her books again. The Scapegoat is one of my favorites but House on the Strand is certainly top of my list. The Scapegoat is an intriguing story of two people, total strangers who meet by chance and exchange lives for one week. They didn't intend for it to be one week but probably for much longer perhaps a lifetime but circumstances change and events arise that cause these two strangers to revert to their own lives. It is incredible to read a book written in the 1950's in 2013. It takes you back to the simple life of the times after the 2nd World War in France. No cell phones, no t.v. or any electronic devices...just basic life. In fact the characters create the entertainment and even without modern electronics this book proves that people were the same in thought and personality. Decades of time do not change that. This book is classic DuMaurier. She was a great writer and her books will live forever. Incidentally Hichcock thought the Scapegoat such a good story he made a movie of it. That speaks volumes....and I do mean to use a pun here! I recommend the book but remember it is written very differently than books of our day. It relies on the characters and their intricate lives and circumstances, not fluff and cotton candy stuff.
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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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