Now and then you come across an author or a book that simply floors you by it’s style and simplicity, powerful play. Such books are a delight to read, savored in every sense. The richness woven is hard to find in other books.
Daphne Du Maurier is one such novelist. I should thank my local librarian for keeping her works in an accessible area and in good condition. I started with The Scapegoat and am now in Birds. It is a captivating, interesting world that Maurier presents us.
The Scapegoat is the story of two men of British and French nationality who are exact duplicates of each other in looks and manners, speech- one a bachelor professor of French history and the other an impoverished count who has a huge family and runs a glass foundry at a loss. John and Comte de Gue to be exact.
They exchange places on a whim and the story moves forward from the POV of John in the count’s persona. He discovers that all is not as it seems. He has a plethora of problems to handle, satisfying every one of his family’s whims. He finds that the count is not what he seems-he is far more sinister and cunning in his designs and has no responsibility towards anything. In fact, he had made John a scapaegoat for his troubles.
John is forced to meld in with the count’s family and starts to unravel the mysteries behind every knot presented to him in his own inimitable way. He is most taxed by the count’s daughter, who is religious by nature and has a fierce attachment to him.
As all falls into place and John has turned things around, a tragedy strikes-and a surprise waits for him with an end that nearly destroys his whole life.
The human element is strongly played throughout the novel as is evident in each of the characters with their own agenda and designs. The fierce attachment that the count’s daughter feels towards him, the laments of his neglected wife, his estranged sister, his often humiliated brother who is a real management talent, his mistress who is a silent spectator to all that happens and his driver, sympathetic, yet friendly.
One is presented with the option of enjoying the book leisurely or to finish it in one go.