Pub. Date:
University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
The Scapegoat

The Scapegoat

by Daphne du Maurier


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"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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812217254
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
Publication date: 02/14/2000
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 192,698
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 8.50(d)

About 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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The Scapegoat 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Kasthu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Scapegoat is the story of two men, identical in appearance, who meet by chance in a train station one day. After a few drinks too many, the Englishman, John, wakes in the morning to find that the Frenchman, Jean, has stolen his identity¿and that John must take his doppelganger¿s place, as the Count de Gue and the master of a failing estate, family, and glass making company.I¿ve read I believe six of Daphne Du Maurier¿s novels now, and I can honestly say that this is different from the others. It¿s not an historical novel, nor is it a novel of suspense. There¿s no real feeling of terror that the reader feels (except maybe for one scene at the end) while reading this book. There¿s no real mystery, here, either, except for the one of Jean¿s past that John tries to piece together bit by bit. So what kind of novel is The Scapegoat?It¿s a brilliant novel about human nature, which pits two men who are in appearance very similar; but in other ways are very, very different. John¿s life may be going down the tubes, too, but he doesn¿t ever contemplate running away from his troubles the way that Jean does¿therein lies the difference between the two men. I have to think that Jean de Gue (the real one) is a bit of a coward, running away from his responsibilities. But on the other hand, John is also a bit cowardly. I find it hard to believe that anyone, after making such an impact on a family in the space of the week, would just be able to walk away at the end. Also, I found it hard to believe that John could react so calmly to what Jean reveals about John¿s life at the end of the book.Still, this novel shows how amazing it is that people will believe anything you want them to, if it¿s in the realm of possibility. After all, nobody would believe that two men, identical in appearance, would meet by chance one day and switch places¿it¿s just too fantastical to contemplate (which is why the chauffeur believes ¿Jean¿ to be drunk when he picks John up at the hotel at the beginning of the book). It¿s a brilliant novel, as I¿ve said about the way of human nature. It¿s not my favorite of Daphne Du Maurier¿s novels, but it¿s pretty good all the same.
carka on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I bought this a few years ago at a used bookstore. It was a very old paperback copy, but for a while it was out of print, so I picked it up. I first read this in junior high and decided to reread it this month after finishing Rebecca. I got all the way to the end only to discover the final pages were missing!I picked up the book from the library yesterday, so I will soon see what happens in the end.
Misfit on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Two strangers, identical in appearance, a chance meeting and 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.
CaptainsGirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Daphne du Maurier. Even if the premis is a cliche and a bit silly, which this one is, she did such a wondeful job of building and keeping suspense. Her descriptions are lush.
lois1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a fine book to read during Christmas vacation. I'd hurry back home from skiing to sit by the fire and go back to the chateau. Yes, unpredictable and brilliant right to the end, which left me aghast. Nice to come to librarything and see that others had similar experiences with this novel. Now I look forward to indulging in more of Du Maurier's writing!
Bookmarque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Doppelganger. Isn¿t that a great word? Many stories have been written about doppelgangers and what happens to them when they switch places, but none so well as this one. du Maurier is known most for her novel Rebecca, but she could easily be known for The Scapegoat instead, it¿s that good. In a way it might be better than Rebecca. The opening is shorter and the plot gets underway much quicker which means I get a lot more `quality time¿ with the characters and the scenario. It¿s that quality time that really hooked me. At first I found John, Jean and Jean¿s family to be remote and difficult to connect with; everyone seemed deliberately odd and cartoonish . Then, through John¿s careful management of his bizarre situation, I began to connect with them and see how they¿d been used and abused by Jean. Eventually you start to root for John and how he tries to set right all the damage his wayward double has created. All the while knowing it can¿t last. You hope though and that¿s what sets this novel and du Maurier¿s talent apart from others. The way the unknowns are revealed is masterful; you feel as lost and at sea as John must feel, stepping into the role of pater familias. A few of them were relatively easy to guess, particularly the gulf of silence between Jean and Blanche. After a few mentions of Mr. Duval it was pretty clear what happened and Jean¿s rationalization of it made it all the more heinous. In the end, Jean went from a mere selfish cad to a violent psycho and I wonder if his family will survive his return. I have to keep in mind what Bela said to John at his leave-taking, that now John has acted so well and nobly that from now on Jean¿s family would look for John¿s character inside Jean¿s, not the other way around. Going forward Jean will have to try to live up to John¿s precedent and the family will have to stand up to him if he doesn¿t. A word of warning for the hyper-literal ¿ yes, it¿s a stretch. There¿s probably no way two complete strangers can exchange lives even for a few hours never mind a few days. Yes, people would be suspicious and many, many things would give each person away. That¿s not really the point of this novel. It¿s the vehicle only. The point is to see what good can happen to John (and maybe even to Jean in the end) and how he can save himself. During the set up, we come to understand that John is nearly crushed under the weight of ennui and dissatisfaction with his life. He considers himself to be a failure. He wishes he could set free that part of his personality that he¿s never allowed flight. The one who takes chances and wants real people in his life, not just historical figures and the occasional student to tutor. In his hopelessness, John is planning to visit a monastery in a last ditch effort to find a solution. Little does he know his cure doesn¿t lie in that direction. Instead he is driven headlong into someone else¿s life where he can have the freedom to shake off the crippling insecurity and act like the man he wants to be. In the process he changes Jean¿s family¿s lives, too and that¿s what brings a sense of hope to an ending that could have been bleak. I¿m not sure this book is still in print. I bought a used copy online and still paid something like $15 with shipping for a trade paperback. Find a copy for yourself if you can. It¿s worth it and I know I¿ll be re-reading this one.
Ausonius More than 1 year ago
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-
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laurelg More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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 .