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The Scapegoat by Daphne Du Maurier
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The Scapegoat (1957)

by Daphne du Maurier

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,1123710,780 (3.9)163
  1. 20
    The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier (BonnieJune54)
    BonnieJune54: The main characters are similar and they are both going through dual lives.
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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
The Scapegoat
by Daphne DuMaurier
1942
PS Library

This is one f my favorite DuMaurier novels, and I am constantly debating myself about if this book is about impersonation in itself, or through psychological idioms..... Schizophrenia, mid life crisis.........The book begins when John , a wealthy Englishman goes on a holiday trip to France. Here he meets a man who is his double, Jean. They go for a drink but John drinks too much and wakes up in a hotel room, eventually realizing that Jean has disappeared, and so has everything he came with, including is identity documents. John cannot come to any conclusions to convince him of what has happened and ends up being chauffered to Jeans home. He is expected to continue his families business of glass making and shooting parties, things he knows nothing about and has no interest in learning. It soon becomes evident that Jean is using John as his Scapegoat; Jeans family and business are both in shambles and John is left with the mess

DuMauriers use of suspense and surprise are evident throughout the novel, and her engaging characters are easy to like and follow. Her use of atmosphere, and her ability to make you feel as though you are part of the book make this, as well as most of her novels, a fantastic story. ( )
  over.the.edge | Sep 18, 2018 |
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 other."

As 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 people.

If 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.
( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
I read this book after three awful classics (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The Awakening, and Death of a Salesman) so I was especially relieved to find I'd picked up an excellent book worth rereading, finally. In this story, a man assumes another man's identity and swaps him places, and both men get to start fresh with just what the other man had, to make a better life for himself than he was living before, or at least to make the best of what he has available. ( )
  JBarringer | Dec 30, 2017 |
Until recently the only book by Du Maurier I had ever read was Rebecca. I think I've read it two or three times since childhood. In the past few months I have read a few other selections and have become a fan. It's a shame she isn't widely read any longer. Published in 1956, The Scapegoat takes place over a week's time. It is set contemporaneously, but is still very gothic in nature. The story is full of characters with shadowy histories and unfolds in the classic gothic style with many twists and turns. What would you do if you were suddenly dropped into someone else's life for a week? You might be surprised by some of the choices Du Maurier's characters make.

( )
  TerryLewis | Jun 12, 2017 |
Book Description
"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.

My Review
I have found Daphne du Maurier to be a master storyteller. Her complex characters with engrossing dialogue kept the pages turning until the very end. Her fantastic prose allows you to feel what the characters are feeling and you can immediately imagine that you are in every scene along with the characters. I found the plot to be tension-filled, fascinating and soul searching. I have read Rebecca before and found this one to be just as intriguing. I look forward to reading more of du Maurier's books and highly recommend this one to those who have read Rebecca. ( )
  EadieB | Jun 1, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
du Maurier, Daphneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Appignanesi, LisaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cardi, Alma ReeseDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scarpi, N. O.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Scapegoat, Daphe du Maurier's eleventh novel, first appeared in 1957.
I left the car by the side of the cathedral, and then walked down the steps into the Place des Jacobins.
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Book description
VIRAGO EDITION:
By chance, two men - one English, the other French - meet in a provincial railway station. Their physical 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 is 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 château, director of a failing business, head of a fractious family and master of nothing.

Gripping and complex, The Scapegoat is a masterful exploration of doubling and identity, and the dark side of the self.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 081221725X, Paperback)

"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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:15 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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 ch?ateau, 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 ch?ateau.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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