Despite the fact that the entire central premise of this novel is not the slightest bit believable, du Maurier's skill as a story teller enables her to pull it off. While it's conceivable that a person might so closely resemble another as to fool almost everyone on sight, surely their voices and speech patterns could hardly be identical, especially considering that one is French and the other born and raised English. But it's such a good yarn that one is prepared to accept the possibility and after that, the story goes merrily on its way. Having John stumble onto Bela, whose identity he could not have known and effortlessly waltz right into her welcoming arms is also far-fetched, but if we're going to accept the entire idea in the first place, well we might as well accept that as well.
This book lacks some of the gothic, brooding gloominess of du Maurier's Cornwall novels -- and I guess that's a good thing. Her language, albeit very literate, is straightforward enough to not get in the way. The characters, although lightly drawn, are convincing. Her portrayal of the overly precocious 10-year-old is fascinating despite being exaggerated for effect.
One minor quibble: The author's tidying-up of the new roles for all the family members is a bit too neat. And finally, a major quibble: For my taste, du Maurier's choice to end the story the way she did was a bit disappointing, especially after Jean had played not just one but two dirty tricks on him (to avoid spoilers, I say no more about that).
An Englishman travelling in France meets a duplicate of himself on a country railway station. After a night of drinking at an hotel,the Englishman discovers that the Frenchman has left him to take over his identity and all his responsibilities.. Most enjoyable and very,very clever.There is a tiny glitch towards the end but I won't elaborate and it is hardly noticeable. A film was made of the same name but set entirely in England in 1952. The end was completely different and it worked.
It's a slow start, but once you get past the first few chapters you won't be able to put it down. Another favorite from Daphne du Maurier.
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