11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2006
After reading The Scapegoat, and The Flight of the Falcon, set in France and Italy respectively, it is good to be back on familiar Cornish ground with this good-humored yet pointed and poignant work. However, Travanel and its inhabitants are a world removed from the Gothic romance of Manderley or Jamaica Inn. This, Du Maurier's final novel, comes across more as an Orwellian style cautionary tale set in Stella Gibbon's Cold Comfort Farm. While her usual bounds of propriety are never overstepped, she doesn't shrink away from the occasional vulgarity; the bits where the youngest boys in the adopted family are learning to use profanities by way of faltering Spoonerisms are actually charming; and the acronym for the United States teamed with the United Kingdom - USUK - has been appropriated as an epithet by a younger generation(at least in America). Though the mood of hi jinks and good humor is maintained throughout the novel, many serious ethical and political issues are touched upon. It's a pity that this very enjoyable, extremely well-written, and still quite topical book isn't better known!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This 1972 novel by Daphne DuMaurier is a departure from her better known style of suspense (REBECCA or The Birds) it is a tale set in the 'near future', ie the late 1970's, and centers on 20 year old Emma living in a small Cornish fishing village with her eccentric grandmother 'Mad', a housekeeper and Mad's six adopted sons. As the day begins Emma is considering leaving the household but her plans are put on hold when the US Marines invade the village, killing a neighbor's dog in the process. As the story progresses we see Emma, her family and community cope with the occupation of their country. Each must examine their own beliefs, decide whether this new country is the best or worst thing that has ever happened to them personally or to their country and whether they are a 'Them' or 'Us'.
If you are looking for a moody gothic romance, or a suspenseful thriller then this is not for you. This is a thought provoking novel that will probably remain with the reader long after the last page.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2009
One of Daphne du Maurier's lesser-known books, Rule Britannia envisages an alternate history of England in the 1970s. In this alternate universe, plunged into economic depression and soaring unemployment, England decides not to join the European Economic Community (forerunner to the European Union). Its residents wake up one day to find communications cut, an American warship in the harbour, US marines setting up roadblocks and news that Britain was joining forces with the United States to form the USUK.
A group of Cornish villagers becomes increasingly unhappy with the take-over of their land and start a shadowy rebellion, centring on an 80-year-old former actress, his brood of adopted troubled boys and her neighbours. The story is told through the eyes of her 20-year-old grand-daughter. A fascinating read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2014
This is the first time ever that
I give an author two stars: I never thought
it would be Daphne du Maurier whose books I loved since
"Rule Britannia", a curious "allegory", or "political--fiction"
or whatever you call it,about occupation and revolt is quite badly written,
full of over-simplified military, economic,
historical pseudo-analysis, insulting stereotypes
(all Americans are half-wit cowboys or brutal
sheriffs, all British politicians Quisling-like puppets...)
and even more insulting suppositions.
Has Ms du Maurier,the widow of Lieutenant-General
Sir Frederick Browning, one of the leading British
officers during WW2 forgotten that the Yanks who
last "invaded" Britain came not to occupy that country
but to prepare the liberation of occupied Europe and
to die, by the thousands, on the beaches of Normandy?
Has she forgotten that the Yankees came not to
imprison the Brits behind barbed wires but to
liberate concentration-camps, among them Mauthausen
and Ebensee in Austria(where my father was tortured)? Has she
forgotten that during WW2 the Americans, far from
reducing the Brits to famished slaves, sent as much help
as they could and that hundreds of American seamen died
when American ships transporting food and ammunition
were sunk by German submarines? "Rule Britannia", the author's
last novel about a fictional invasion of the UK
by American armed forces was written in 1971-72, only 27-30 years after the
above mentioned events. Did Lady Browning really have as short a
memory as that?
Lieutenant -General Browning called, famously, during
operation Market-Garden (September 1944) the Bridge of Arnhem in
Holland "A Bridge Too Far". Well, this last novel of the
marvelous Daphne du Maurier ("Rebecca"," The King's
General"," The House on the Strand") was, in my opinion,
a book too far...
Elisheva Guggenheim-Mohosh, Geneva, Switzerland
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
What if Britain and the US were to become one nation? What if the British government were to cease to exist and be just an extension of the US government instead? Could you imagine a world in which the Queen of England spent periods working at the White House and the President of the United States living at Buckingham Palace? That is what happens in this alternate universe. Emma is eighteen, insecure about her future and her place in the world. She feels like she is nobody without her grandmother, a famous retired stage actress, and all she does is help look after her grandma's six rather eccentric adopted children. But that is the least of her worries when she wakes up to chaos one morning. The streets have been barricaded, the telephone lines are dead, and there's no radio or TV reception. And what is that war ship doing in the harbor? What are all of those American soldiers doing in Britain? The unthinkable has happened: the UK and the US have formed an alliance. In order to avoid riots, the US government has the country in lockdown. Everything has been taken from the locals, and while most Brits seem happy with the alliance, most of the people in the eccentric Cornish community are against it. It is up to them to do something about it.
Yikes! What an odd choice for a plot! What's worse is that the plot is not only silly, but also uninspired. Rule Britannia is a satire. It is very funny in some areas -- I laughed out loud several times. And while the writing itself is good, the plot is too over the top for my taste. You'd have to suspend a great deal of disbelief to get through it. (And I just about got through it. I admit I had to force myself to finish it. In fact, I read it fast just that I could move on to something else.) The language is bitingly sharp, typical in modern satires (this was published in 1972), and various things might offend some people. Daphne du Maurier decided to write some rather outlandish storylines during the last stages of her writing career (The Scapegoat and The House on the Strand spring to mind), and while her other ventures were quite successful, this one fails to deliver what we've come to expect from her. This is the first time I give a du Maurier novel two stars. I cannot believe this is her last novel. Why she decided to write this and not end her novel-writing career with a bang is beyond me. (Then again, she probably thought she was.) Alas, if you feel you can appreciate the author's somewhat nonsensical political views, then by all means give it a whirl. But, to me, this is a big, fat pass.
on October 1, 2011
As usual -- speaking now as a ("practicing") fiction writer -- Daphne du Maurier leaves the rest of us "at the post."
The sheer (seeming) effortlessness of her output is truly astonishing; they all are written as "page-turners" (i.e., stories to read "on the beach," or what-have-you), but she never fails to include every last pertinent social/economic/psychological consideration. One gets the sense she has a "well, why would you leave them OUT?" attitude towards her writing.
Here, the "plot" centers around an attempted take-over (or, "annexing") of the United Kingdom to the United States, under the new moniker "USUK." As the Madam (called, simply, "Mad") of the household around which the action centers states early on in the parable: "Undoubtedly, this has been in planning stages for months, with bankers on both sides in agreement." [I'm paraphrasing, quoting from memory; I don't have the book on me, at the moment.]
Yeah. No kidding. Things have really changed since '72 (the year this book was published) haven't they?
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2011
I've just finished reading it minutes ago, then looked at some other reviews. It must be a question of taste.
I thought it fascinating & couldn't put it down, but would admit to disappointment at the end, it falls flat.
With recent world events, think how you would feel in that situation... in your country.
What of the feelings of locals in Iraq or Afganistan? What do you think when your government decides to do something for the good of the country that you really don't want.
I wanted to read it because I knew a mother who banned it from her daughter's reading list due to a boy & girl slipping off to a cave, but no real sexual inuendoes. It was my first book to read from Du Maurier. I loved it.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I generally read about 100-150 books a year, and of that, there are usually only two or three I don't finish. This is one of them. I picked this up intrigued by the Du Maurier name and the premise of a union between the United States and United Kingdom. Alas, around halfway through this last of Du Maurier's seventeen novels, I realized I was bored to distraction by the tepidness of the satire and generally lackluster prose. The story is set contemporarily (it was published in 1972), and like so many of her works, in Cornwall. The idea is that a former stage actress of some repute and wealth has retired to a large mansion where she has taken in a series of orphan children, allowing them a great deal of freedom to develop their imaginations. To a certain extent, this character seems semi-autobiographical, and the way the children are raised parallels her own relatively unrestrained upbringing. One day the household arises to discover American planes flying overhead, marines landing on the shores near the house, and an announcement of a political union between the U.S. and U.K. This is apparently in response to some kind of European Unionish fiasco that is left to the reader's imagination. The real point seems to be that Britons will never never never become slaves, nor even the little brother to America's big brother. The household's first sighting of the Americans occurs when a nervous Marine shoots a neighbors beloved dog, which sets the standard for the subtlety of satire. Soon, the elderly lady is predictably leading a local revolt against the occupation, American soldiers are brawling with locals over girls, and so on. The problem is that the Du Maurier can't seem to decide if the story is supposed to be a satire, a farce, cautionary, realistic, or what. And since none of the characters were developed enough or interesting enough to care about, I realized my time might be better spent reading something else.
on February 4, 2013
Very different to Dauphne du Mauriers other books. I think it has value as a reflection on the experience of being colonised. Having forced ourselves on so many other countries and now living having no colonies it helped me see something of how it must feel to loose identity and freedom to another power. It needs rereading today.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2008
The premise of the United States "helping out" another country by invading them isn't new, but since we're invading somebody at the moment, I found this book timely. There is much symbolism here that could easily be overlooked if you were inclined to read it too quickly. From time to time, I found myself going back to re-read a particular passage, just because it was so wickedly funny. Some of it almost begs to be read out loud. For instance, the combined nation of the United States and the United Kingdom is referred to as USUK. (read as You Suck.) Stuff like that kept me laughing. There's also a description of a cake being sliced and served "like Shylock's pound of flesh" that is hysterical.
This novel was the first satire I've read by duMaurier. I usually associate her with chilling stories that don't quite resolve and leave the reader feeling a little creepy. While I don't think this is her best, I do think it's heads above virtually anything being written today in fiction and that this book is one that could be read a few times and still be enjoyable. duMaurier uses words that well.