Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Parasites by Daphne du Maurier

The Parasites in this novel refer to three siblings Maria, Niall and Celia who are born to famous parents in the theatre. Accused of being Parasites by Maria's husband, the three siblings spend the novel looking back over their childhood and lives and ponder over the insult.

Celia is the only one that shares both parents, Niall and Maria share no blood ties and yet they have the closest bond (to an incestuous level) of all the children. Maria is a successful actress who is more like the parts she happens to be playing than herself, while Niall is a typical musician drifter. Celia is the person that is put upon by her siblings and parents, never being able to chase her own dreams lest they get in the way of her duties.

The backdrop to the novel are the theatres of Paris and London (a world du Maurier would have known well due to her famous father Gerald du Maurier) and they certainly add to the glamorous and bohemian life the siblings lead. But despite the setting and the mysterious bond between the three main characters, I felt very indifferent to the whole thing.

I cannot fault the writing itself although I would have liked more suspense and mystery which I delight in du Maurier's other books. The main problem were the characters who were not rounded enough for me and I failed to connect with them or their motivations. It felt sometimes rushed and I never got underneath any of the characters skin, instead du Maurier just focused on the introductory personality tracts which was used to propel the novel along, which after a while became boring.

An interesting book but not one of du Mauriers best.

Verdict 3/5

Posted by Jess


  1. Too bad this one didn't work so well...I understand what you are saying about the disappointment of thinly drawn characters.

  2. I haven't ever heard of this one, although I loved Rebecca and Jamaica Inn. Sorry it was not better.

  3. I've not yet read anything by du Maurier, but I plan to start with Rebecca. It's nice to see something else by her discussed, even if it falls short of her better works!

  4. I almost picked this one up at a charity shop yesterday. I guess I'm glad that I didn't. I loved Rebecca, but I have read a couple of other books by her that were just okay.

  5. I haven't read this one yet. I'm not sure I really want to though. I like her suspense.