The Scapegoat by Daphne Du Maurier was published in 1956. This is a filling novel - meaning is stays with you. I thought about the story line a lot while I was reading it, and it has stayed with me since I finished it.
Blurb from Barnes and Noble:
"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.
I find Du Maurier an excellent storyteller. She divulges enough to keep me turning pages, but she generally surprises me with her endings. This is not to say that I always like her endings. I didn't like the ending to this story, partly because I wasn't done reading. I wanted a sequel. I felt attached to this family and wanted to know what happened next after she ended it. I could have keep reading for several hundred more pages.
Du Maurier makes the reader think about human motivation, good verses evil, and the desire to be connected to others. I will be purchasing her other novels. She is that good of a writer. If you liked The Birds or Rebecca, you will probably like this novel.
Read to a child today even if that child is you.