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The Scapegoat

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Overview

"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 ...

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The Scapegoat

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Overview

"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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

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

NY Times Book Review
What a magnificent thriller this is.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812217254
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 251,030
  • Product dimensions: 0.78 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

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

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2004

    Amazing!

    When I happened to come across this hard to find book in a used bookstore, I leaped at the chance to own it, simply because it was a du Maurier. But when I picked it up, I could no sooner put it down until I had finished the entire story! It's a fabulous novel of coincidences that switch the circumstances of two men, identical in appearance but in little else. By the final pages, I could hardly breathe for fear or what would happen, and I was never more upset when I had indeed finished, yearning for more.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    One of many good titles for a review of Daphne du Maurier's 195

    One of many good titles for a review of Daphne du Maurier's 1957 fantasy thriller THE SCAPEGOAT might be the words of its narrator, 38-year old unmarried English scholar of French history John (no last name ever given): "The self I knew had failed. The only way to escape responsibility for failure was to become someone else. Let another personality take charge" (Ch. 12). ***

    Some years after the German occupation of France in World War II, through Fate or Divine Providence, utterly depressed, self-pitying John falls into the hands of Jean de Gues, a dissolute French count. The count's looks, size, intonations of French-speaking John are identical. Count Jean has been hoping for a way to desert his family, his responsibility for a 300 year old glass foundry and live for pure self-indulgence. On meeting John by chance in Le Mans, he tricks John into assuming his identity, while he drives off to London in John's car and with his identity papers. ***

    The novel plays out over less than a week, with John being driven by Gaston, a faithful family retainer, to the chateau where he meets mother, wife, 10-year old daughter Marie-Noel, brother, brother's wife and others who know the Count intimately. All accept John as the real Count. It is as if none see the well known Mr Hyde as Dr Jekyll. ***

    Are these two different people? Offhand it seems so. John narrates the novel and the real Count Jean appears only briefly at beginning and end. On the other hand John recalls a blow to the head in a seedy hotel room in Le Mans before the identity shift. Perhaps the Count is the one knocked out and a concussion caused him to face up to a latent version of his cruel, cynical persona. For all his faults English John is kind to a circle of family, business, friends and servants to whom Count Jean was often cruel. ***

    THE SCAPEGOAT can be read as profoundly religious as anything by novelist Graham Greene, as sociological as Margaret Mead, as probing of human relationships as Jane Austen and as much a man's man's book as much of Rudyard Kipling. A fantastically good read! -OOO-

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    This book will hold your attention--a creative plot.

    Scapegoat is a book that I have read a few times. I have also loaned my copy to many others to enjoy. It has such an unusual plot, that even my husband who is not an avid reader, picked it up and was lost to the adventure found between the covers of the book! Even if Scapegoat does not become one of your favorite books, it will be one that you find yourself recommending to others to read. It will keep your attention.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2005

    Great Read!

    I had just finished Rebecca when I picked up this other Daphne du Maurier title. I LOVED it. I had no idea what it would be like...and it was amazing. read read read! very good.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2005

    perhaps her best

    A period , the fifties, which Heinrich Boll treats so well , here much more within texture and not without humour : Jean speaking to gathering of hunters for instance to the broad sweep of story which is as little real , tentative, assessed as conceptual thought may commonly be and certainly as delusively entertaining .

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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