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What was Daphne du Maurier thinking?!
on May 26, 2009
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.