Maureen's Reviews > Rule Britannia

Rule Britannia by Daphne du Maurier
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's review
Sep 24, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011

daphne du maurier gifted us with a strange last novel, and i wouldn't expect anything less from her. it is a macabre satire with murder and mayhem, and coloured by the politics of du maurier in her last years. she asks, what if britain had joined the european common market only to be bankrupted by it, and saw no other alternative but to unify with their once rebellious sons in north america, and form a new country, the USUK?("you suck" seems intended, especially with the potential currency, the ducat, remarked upon for its "unfortunate rhyming associations" suck it? fuck it? i couldn't decide -- du maurier allows herself the luxury of profanity in this book more than any other) but as soon as the american troops land to help manoeuvre the country into the new coalition, things begin to go awry. someone gets murdered and things get weird, and weirder, and rightfully so, when the main character is an almost eighty-year old actress named "mad" whose household includes a twenty-year old granddaughter who narrates the action, a dotty housekeeper named dottie, a decrepit old dog, and six unruly adopted sons who won't be ruled by anyone but mad. mad and her crew recruit the neighbours, and other good folk of cornwall in thwarting what seems more to them an american occupation than a union.

i think the ending isn't very effective: a tad trite and a little more than convenient (and confusing - there are still a few things that don't make abundant sense to me). i also think du maurier hopes you know that she knows that she is joking, and i'm not sure that's always readily apparent, and perhaps her tongue is barbed a little more sharply that what is generally palatable (and sometimes i think she worries too much and tries to point out to us that she is using stereotypes for a reason). i also wish she'd taken a page from philip k. dick and placed the action of the book in an alternate reality of England rather than trying to entrench it too much in our current timeline: the contemporary references date and defuse the book. but i really liked it, too. a lot of the time it is sheer lunacy and some scenes in this book quite shocking for their matter-of-factness so sometimes laughter was tinged with anxiety. it is an entertaining book. it is also a book that does ask very good questions that impact us today: what happens in the face of capitalism's decline? and how far people will go to serve whatever ends they choose to pursue? but then of course, she has to tell her prince philip joke twice. :)

i'm wavering between three and four here.
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Reading Progress

September 24, 2011 – Started Reading
September 24, 2011 – Shelved
Finished Reading
December 11, 2011 – Shelved as: 2011

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Adrian (new)

Adrian This is what Madame du Maurier looked like when she was writing the novel. Of course it's going to be strange!

Maureen Adrian wrote: "This is what Madame du Maurier looked like when she was writing the novel. Of course it's going to be strange!


why, you! you almost tricked me for a minute, rapscallion! (remember when i had that dream about you as dionysus in the cave? :P)

message 3: by Adrian (new)

Adrian I blame you for the bizarre double-dream that tormented me recently.

Part One involved shifting, blurry scenes in Japanese locations: I was in a mall, an office building, then an underground subway station ... and every scene was disrupted by some unknown gigantic, bellowing menace that stood outside and made the walls tremble. I'm sure it must have been Godzilla, and this could only have been a projection from your unconscious. It was more absurd & annoying than frightening.

But, oh boy, Part Deux was a dizzying hybrid of your beloved Norse sagas and back issues of Thor comics. I was part of a Viking tribe fleeing across a landscape drawn by Jack Kirby. We came to a precipice and the leader yelled "The end is here!" ... and then from behind us appeared the abomination known as MANGOG!!!

The battle was bloody & terrifying. I threw an axe, a spear, and a stray rabbit at the thing. But nothing can prevail against the MANGOG, even if he does wear a silly pair of shorts.

Cass Hi! I "just" started reading du Maurier, and don't know a lot about her background. You mentioned her politics in your review and I was wondering if you could give me some insights there? Or point me in the direction of relevant lit/online sources??? Thanks!!

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