The Parasites by Daphne Du Maurier

I have Simon over at Savidge Reads to thank for reminding me that this book was sitting on my shelf. Daphne Du Maurier is at the top of the list of my favourite authors, Rebecca is definitely my favourite book of all time. I always get a bit nervous when I start another one of her books as I worry that I will be disappointed in it but Du Maurier, yet again, did not disappoint.
The Parasites is about the Delaney siblings, Maria, Niall and Celia. They are the off-spring of very famous parents; their father was one of the greatest singers of the time and their mother was an extremely talented and applauded dancer. Celia is the only child that shares both parents, so she is half sister to Niall and Maria, who share no blood ties, yet they have the closest bond of all the children. These three complex characters are actually the parasites in the title as they are seen to live off the talent of their parents as they try to forge their own creative careers. Du Maurier shows them in the present day she then creates a series of flashback to show how they have become they people they are now.
This book could be slightly auto-biographical; Daphne was the daughter of Sir Gerald Du Maurier, a famous actor and manager and her mother was the actress Muriel Beaumont. Perhaps there are elements of Du Maurier in the character of Celia whose true talent is writing and illustrating stories yet she suppresses this in order to take care of her ailing father. Du Maurier did have a tempestuous relationship with her father and he greatly influenced her. She worked extremely hard to gain the success that she did; maybe Celia is the person she could have been if she had not had the will to explore and use her talent for writing.
I really enjoyed this book but many parts of it are not pleasant; Du Maurier is so good at creating characters that can truly make you cringe. Niall and Maria are especially detestable, selfish creatures. However, Du Maurier has woven the story so well that you do have sympathy for them as they are very much a product of their childhood. Du Maurier really captured for me the feeling you have when you suddenly realise that you are a grown-up:
A day would come, a day like any other day, and looking over your shoulder you would see the shadow of the child that was, receding; and there would be no going back, no possibility of recapturing the shadow.

I really enjoyed this book, the relationships between the characters keeps you gripped, especially the one between Niall and Maria. Du Maurier has an extremely clever and subtle style of writing, she does not bombard you with information, instead she weaves the little details throughout her story so that you gradually get to know the characters. There is always an air of mystery that keeps you turning the pages.


Nicole said...

I just picked up a book of short stories by Daphne Du Maurier. I was going to get Frenchman's Creek but I wasn't sure that I was going to like it. I am looking forward to reading The Birds. I never understood why it was so creepy as a movie, so I'm hoping that the short story helps me to understand it.

Dot said...

Nicole- I've read The Birds but never seen the film. Frenchman's Creek is good but Rebecca is better in my opinion- it's my favourite book.

Violet said...

Interesting title. I think I'll have to read this. I loved Rebecca but haven't read any other book by Daphne Du Maurier.

Dot said...

Violet- It is an interesting title, I think that is probably what put me off reading it for a while! My Cousin Rachel is another good Du Maurier book!

Flo said...

I've only read Rebecca and some short stories (Don't Look Now and The Birds) by Daphne Du Maurier but she is on my list of authors to read more of. This book sounds good, I had not heard of it!

The film of The Birds is brilliant but I am a huge hitchcock fan so a bit biased.

Enjoying reading your blog


Dot said...

Daphne Du Maurier is a great author, it's great because she has written many books! I was just looking at your profile page and I have to say that I love lighthouses too! Both of your blogs are lovely.

Savidge Reads said...

I am so pleased that you enjoyed this. Its a great book, what I think is very interesting is she recreates the relationship of Heathcliffe and Cathy in this novel through Nial and Maria only much better and make a much better book out of it! Like you Daphne is one of my very favouritist authors and also Rebecca probably has to be my favourite book of all time.

Dot said...

Simon- I really enjoyed it and it has made me want to re-read Wuthering Heights again. Yet again Daphne Du Maurier didn't disappoint!

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