The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier

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  Remember the ridiculous Krystle/Rita storyline in Dynasty?  If your child, sibling, partner or parent had been replaced by a lookalike, do you not think you’d notice the difference?  And Rita had at least been coached by Sammy Jo in Krystle’s history, the family history and Krystle’s mannerisms.  In this book, we are expected to believe that a British history professor is tricked into taking the place of a French count who drugged him a short time after they met by accident at a railway station, and that the count’s mother, wife, brother, sister and daughter all failed to realise that this wasn’t actually their guy, just someone who looked like him?  I mean, seriously??!!

The dog realised that it was the wrong guy.  So, eventually, did the guy’s mistress.  But no-one else did.  The said count had got his life in a mess.  The terms of his wife’s dowry were that the money would only be released if she either produced a male heir or died before the age of 50.  One daughter, one miscarriage, now expecting again but terrified that something would go wrong.  He was supplying his mother with morphine, his sister didn’t speak to him because he’d had her fiance murdered during the war, and his young daughter was having some sort of religious crisis.  Also, his finances were a mess and putting a lot of people’s livelihoods at risk.

Our friend, John, did his best to sort it out, but the wife committed suicide.  Meanwhile, Jean, the real count, was in London, helping himself to John’s money.

Why didn’t John just go to the police and say that he’d been drugged and kidnapped and he wasn’t actually Jean?!  Did he enjoy being caught up in this very messy life, just because his own was so boring?  And how on earth did even Jean’s closest relatives fail to notice that he was the wrong person?   Even if he genuinely looked very like Jean, he wouldn’t have sounded like him, and the fact that he knew nothing about Jean’s life must surely have been obvious.   The story of Jean’s family was interesting, but the idea that no-one would have realised that John wasn’t Jean was just too silly.

 

6 thoughts on “The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier

  1. I enjoyed this a lot more than you did, I think, but I understand your problems with it. It does need a lot of suspension of disbelief! I did wonder for a while whether John and Jean could somehow be the same person with a split personality, which would make more sense to me, but I couldn’t quite make that fit with the plot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It might have made sense, because we didn’t find out to the end that Jean was actually in London, in John’s flat, and for 95% of the novel we had no idea where he was. But then he turned up!

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  2. I haven’t read this one, but now I think I’ll look into it–problems and all. I’m a huge fan of du Maurier. So, even if the plot creaks a little, at least I know the writing is first rate. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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