My favourite book is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier but I’ll be honest, I haven’t dared read any other books of hers in case they don’t work out. But then one day on Twitter I read a discussion about this book and the premise of it – the UK has pulled out of Europe and the future of the country and the stability of the economy is at risk. America takes over.
Eek. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a joke. It wasn’t. I eventually found a copy of it in one of the little bookshops in Hythe and was too intrigued by it not to pick it up immediately.
One morning Mad, her granddaughter Emma and their houseful of adopted boys wake up to a warship in their Cornwall bay as the Americans invade. Quickly the invaders are responsible for the shooting of a neighbouring farmers much loved sheep dog and that sets up the relationship. Over time the family learn that the UK government has agreed a partnership with the US which will now be called US:UK, the plans being that the UK will become a tourist destination for Americans with recreations of historical events throughout the country as towns compete against each other to attract the most visitors. And yet the Americans are acting as invaders. Mad doesn’t quite believe it is as simple and friendly as it is being portrayed by the Prime Minister and the local MP, she is told to behave and accept the inevitable or expect consequences.
Mad, a 79 year old former very famous actress is not capable of putting up and shutting up. She quickly makes it known that she does not support what is happening and doesn’t expect it to end well. Many in the town are behind her. All the whilst the world seems normal.
Then a chain of events started, very innocently with Mad and her boys dressing a Guy for the bonfire as a soldier. From that moment the relationship between the residents of the town and the invaders disintegrates and events escalate. The consequences are indeed disastrous. And Mad feels vindicated that she was right, this is an invading force here to take control.
This was definitely an interesting premise given the world we are living in at the moment, as the UK prepares to leave the European Union. Rule Britannia was written in the early 1970’s and the UK entered the EU in 1973 so I think this is written as a guess as to how it would go wrong. I’m not surprised that I haven’t heard of it before now to be honest. It’s interesting because of the time we are living in now but I found it a tough, dry read. It’s taken me two weeks and the first half found we really pushing through, if it had been any other author I think I would have given up on it a week ago. But half way through the pace picked up and the story quickly came to a conclusion. It was all very bizarre to be honest but I am glad to have read it. The characters are, of course, really well formed. Those people are all definitely alive in my head now. Du Maurier makes excellent observations on how people would behave, how quickly community would break down, how quickly some would break and how resourceful some are. That said. Nothing is quite resolved. Any question I had is unanswered. Good writing, interesting idea and it certainly gave me a lot more confidence to read her other books. I’ve heard good things about Jamaica Inn and My Cousin Rachel so will move on to them.