Reading progress update: I've read 266 out of 329 pages.

Rule Britannia (Virago Modern Classics Book 120) - Daphne du Maurier, Ella Westland

Amazingly, the book I was anticipating with mixed feelings has turned out to be one of the highlights of this year's Halloween Bingo for me. 


Mileage may vary, but I love what Du Maurier has done here. She's taken the whole "it couldn't happen here" attitude and told exactly that story, while masterfully showing up imperialism works and how oppression creates a breakdown in civility. Then you're left with a back-and-forth of punishment and retaliation.


I know that some other BookLikers are looking to read this book, so I will put the quote below in spoilers (it does give away part of the plot). However, let me say that I am making another cup of tea and am set on finishing this before morning.


Together they stood at the window, looking out upon the bay. There were lights everywhere, the lights of rescue craft searching the sea, and overhead the roar of helicopters, and searchlights too, sweeping the spot where the ship had lain.

‘Judgement Day,’ murmured Mad, ‘but for how many?’

‘It’s horrible,’ whispered Emma, ‘horrible …’

Yet she could not drag her eyes away. The darting lights seemed to bob and circle over a particular patch of oil caught in the searchlight beam, and the lights of the helicopters hovered like gigantic moths, now dipping, now rising again.

‘Poor devils,’ said Mad, turning away. ‘One thing, they must have gone instantaneously, whoever was on board,’ and from force of habit she began turning down her bed, switching on the electric blanket.

Why devils, Emma wondered. Was it a term one used automatically when enemies were wounded or killed? Had it been normal times, the ship at anchor a British or a European vessel waiting for the tide before entering Poldrea harbour to load clay, and a sudden explosion had taken place, blowing the ship to pieces in this way, Mad, despite her age, would have been down there on the cliffs, on the beach, and Emma too, and the boys, in hopes of struggling seamen finding their way ashore. Not tonight. No aid from Trevalan tonight. Whoever clung to a burning spar, whoever tried to swim, maimed and helpless in the choking oil, was alien, did not belong. Them and us …

(show spoiler)


This book is DARK and unsettling without being gory and Du Maurier even in her last book had not lost her knack for creating an atmosphere that draws me into the story.