D Du M was the J K Rowling of her age. Unafraid to veer off down another track after the huge success of `Rebecca', and with a family history of French glass working, `The Scapegoat', set in the mid nineteen fifties is a deep, intricate moral tale with themes that are fresh and contemporary today. I have just re read it after forty years, following the TV adaption recently aired. This programme took hundreds of liberties with the original story but still managed to create an eminently watchable, intriguing parable about good and evil.
Drug abuse, a failing family business, money worries, infidelity, jealousy, long held grudges, servants who harbour secrets, it's all here. John and Jean are mirror images of each other who have never met and are not related. An opportunity is taken and they exchange lives, something that appeals and excites the imagination. The setting is in France, John is on a research tour, Jean is escaping the enormous burdens of his position as Comte, head of his large and complicated family and master of the family glassworks, an industry that is failing to keep up with the times. Memories of resistance fighting and collaboration during WWII still linger dangerously in the air. John seems the duller of the pair but watch him go when he gets the chance.
With beautiful language, exquisite, elegant imagery, intriguing personal dilemmas, `The Scapegoat' is a superb piece of writing. I didn't truly appreciate it when I first read it so long ago, perhaps disappointed because it wasn't another Rebecca. However now I can see it for what it is; a great story, one that sets you thinking on many levels and linger deliciously in your mind long after the book is closed.