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The Parasites [Hardcover]

Daphne du Maurier , Maurier Daphne Du
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 1 1971 0837604109 978-0837604107

'When people play the game: Name three or four persons whom you would choose to have with you on a desert island — they never choose the Delaneys. They don’t even choose us one by one as individuals. We have earned, not always fairly we consider, the reputation of being difficult guests...'

Maria, Niall and Celia have grown up in the shadow of their famous parents — their father, a flamboyant singer and their mother, a talented dancer. Now pursuing their own creative dreams, all three siblings feel an undeniable bond, but it is Maria and Niall who share the secret of their parents’ pasts.

Alternately comic and poignant, The Parasites is based on the artistic milieu its author knew best, and draws the reader effortlessly into that magical world.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Review

'Has all the du Maurier magnetism.' -- Ivor Brown --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Daphne du Maurier was born in 1906 and educated at home and in Paris. She began writing in 1928, and many of her bestselling novels were set in Cornwall, where she lived for most of her life. She was made a DBE in 1969 and died in 1989.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars "For whom the caps fit....." Nov. 28 2009
By Misfit TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
...is how Du Maurier dedicated this novel and one has to wonder how personal this story is for her, she herself being a child of famous entertainers. I understand her relationship with her father was a bit unusual to say the least.

"Parasites affect their hosts by feeding upon their living tissues or cells, and the intensity of the effect upon the hosts ranges from the slightest local injury to complete destruction." The Encyclopedia Britannica (quoted from the book).

My, my, another highly ambiguous ending from Dame Du Maurier and I'm still scratching my head wondering what to make of it. The three Delaney siblings are Maria the actress, Niall the song-writer and Celia the only child parented by Maria's father and Niall's mother (Niall and Maria thus being step-siblings). One day Maria's husband accuses the three of being parasites who have spent their lives feeding off of others and thus begins a series of flashback on the lives of the children and their famous parents as they try to ascertain which one of them is the parasite Charles refers to - or is it all of them?

Maria can be anyone she wants to be and is she truly the woman her husband thought he married? Niall loves to make up popular tunes in his head, but he relies (uses) others around him to put pen to ink. Niall adores Maria but at the same time he has what might have more than *brotherly* feelings for her. And Celia, she is dedicated to protecting and caring for her "pappy" who is IMHO the worst parasite of the lot of them. Oh that family visit to the country estate of Charles' parents - truly guests from Hell.

The flashbacks were a tad confusing, and you never do know who is actually narrating the story (is there just one narrator or different ones?
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1.0 out of 5 stars I must agree June 16 2001
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I read Rebecca and adored it - the subtle darkness and drama, the nuances that one only picked up on the second and third readings, the intense yet always likeable characters, the delectable prose...
I hardly even glanced at "Parasites" when I bought it (thankfully, I only spent a dollar at a used bookstore) and eagerly sat down to read it. Two hours later I tossed down the book, feeling depressed and cynical about humanity in general.
This books follows the lives of three siblings, the children of equally self-absorbed actors, who are "parasites." Each one has the capacity for greatness, given their respective talents, but each wastes them on cheap, unnoticeable books, music, and stage plays.
If you're a fan of flashbacks you might like this - their lives in the 20s to 40s are covered over a massive number of pages, after a look at them in the "present" day. But this book hadn't DuMaurier's other books' sparkling prose and intense dialogue, or any of the spinetingling atmosphere that sucks you in.
It also wasn't helped by the fact that the main characters ARE parasites, living off whoever they are nearby. Their whininess and complaints augmented their selfish personas. I spent much of the book wanting to slap them. There don't really seem to be ANY likeable characters, and while I didn't expect the ending, I felt even more depressed when I read what one of the characters did.
I advise you to read "Rebecca" or "Jamaica Inn" for a first book. Had this been my first Du Maurier book, there would have been no second.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not the most exciting, but still a good read Dec 4 2000
Format:Hardcover
I have to agree with the other reviewer that this book lacked suspense and dark mystery that I found in some of du Maurier's other books. But, I found myself completely involved and interested in the lives of the three siblings. If you enjoy reading period pieces(this one ranging from the 1920's until the late 40's)and reading indepth portrayals of individuals, you will like this book.
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
It is an interesting story that follows the lives of three siblings. I was constantly hoping for something exciting or suspenseful to happen (like most of Daphne's books), but nothing really did. It had a somewhat surprising ending, but by then I didn't care anymore.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the most exciting, but still a good read Dec 4 2000
By M. A. Casey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have to agree with the other reviewer that this book lacked suspense and dark mystery that I found in some of du Maurier's other books. But, I found myself completely involved and interested in the lives of the three siblings. If you enjoy reading period pieces(this one ranging from the 1920's until the late 40's)and reading indepth portrayals of individuals, you will like this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Set up but Brillaint story from my favorite Author Jan. 1 2010
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What I find most surprising is all the dissapointment from the readers here on this work. This was one of the very first reads by Ms. DuMaurier that I read and I must say I found it immesnly worth while. I know quite a bit about her and I can tell that this was a personal work and yet, I can also say that her characterzation is flawless. I have never read a book where I did not like all of the main characters, and yet did at the same time. They are annoying and selfish and yet relateable. The story set up is odd, but I liked it. I found the ending most powerful and once again DuMaurier is skilled at an intricate frame of complex relationships. Well done. If you are a first time DuMaurier reader, wait though, get used to her for a while.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All the world's a stage... June 8 2009
By CoffeeGurl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Parasite: an invertebrate animal preying upon the body of another animal.

And that is what Charles thinks of the Delaneys. They have inherited their parents' talents and have done nothing else with their lives. But Charles wasn't specific. Who among the three Delaney children is the parasite? Is it his wife Maria? After all, he knows her better than the rest. And he knows that she is a great actress, so great that she can develop a new personality on cue. And that is precisely her problem. Who is the real Maria? Or is he referring to Niall? Niall is a natural-born talent, a great musician. But his unresolved issues with his mother and his own brooding feelings for his stepsister has stopped him from living his own life. Then there's Celia. Sweet, spinsterish Celia, the only daughter of both Mama and Pappy Delaney (Maria is Pappy's daughter, Neill is Mama's, children borne from a previous relationship). She's the least talented one, not as pretty, and always the mediator. She's also given up on having a husband and children of her own to look after Maria and Charles's kids. She had also looked after her father after her mother died. After Charles's verbal assault, all three of them ponder his meaning, going back to the events that have brought them to where they are today. Are they happy? Could they be anything more than just the Delaneys? Is there a life beyond the entertainment world?

Daphne du Maurier dedicates this novel to "Whom the Caps fit." You soon realize that this story is very personal. Du Maurier's parents were both entertainers, and perhaps that part of her life had left some feelings that ran deep for her. She wrote various memoirs and short stories with this same theme. The Parasites, while not the author's best work, is an entertaining and poignant tale of love and loss. I like the way the author uses a rather interesting second-person narrative. All the reader knows is that one of the three Delaney children is the narrator, but which one? And do we get to find out whom it is? That is all I will reveal on the matter. Suffice it to say that the unique narrative style draws you in from the beginning. Another interesting thing is the relationship between Maria, Neill and Celia -- especially the first two. There is a Cathy and Heathcliff feel to them that is quite noticeable from the start. This is especially clear in Maria's selfishness, their unnatural clinginess toward each other since childhood (Maria used to pick on Neill when they were kids) and Neill's jealousy when Maria meets Charles. Their relationship is not as dark or as morbid as Emily Bronte's couple, but the similarities are there. And that is all the information I will supply. Don't want to go all book club discussion-type on you. You will have to read this magnificent book to know the rest. First published in 1949, The Parasites is a nice, quick read from Du Maurier, falling into a lighter cateogory, somewhere between Frenchman's Creek and The King's General, only that it's contemporary and more poignant. I recommend it.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I must agree June 16 2001
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I read Rebecca and adored it - the subtle darkness and drama, the nuances that one only picked up on the second and third readings, the intense yet always likeable characters, the delectable prose...
I hardly even glanced at "Parasites" when I bought it (thankfully, I only spent a dollar at a used bookstore) and eagerly sat down to read it. Two hours later I tossed down the book, feeling depressed and cynical about humanity in general.
This books follows the lives of three siblings, the children of equally self-absorbed actors, who are "parasites." Each one has the capacity for greatness, given their respective talents, but each wastes them on cheap, unnoticeable books, music, and stage plays.
If you're a fan of flashbacks you might like this - their lives in the 20s to 40s are covered over a massive number of pages, after a look at them in the "present" day. But this book hadn't DuMaurier's other books' sparkling prose and intense dialogue, or any of the spinetingling atmosphere that sucks you in.
It also wasn't helped by the fact that the main characters ARE parasites, living off whoever they are nearby. Their whininess and complaints augmented their selfish personas. I spent much of the book wanting to slap them. There don't really seem to be ANY likeable characters, and while I didn't expect the ending, I felt even more depressed when I read what one of the characters did.
I advise you to read "Rebecca" or "Jamaica Inn" for a first book. Had this been my first Du Maurier book, there would have been no second.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Nov. 20 2012
By Paul Gardner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In 1949, after years of publishing historical sagas,
DdM produced "The Parasites" -- a fascinating social
comedy. 3 siblings whose parents were famous performers
reflect on their lives after the humorless husband of one
calls them parasites. He's a boor, jealous of their
worldliness, easy talent and charm. People find them
irresistible.

It's a most personal novel for DdM, coming when her
marriage was in crisis. The siblings mirror different
aspects of DdM's personality. On publication, it disappointed
her fans: it lacks gothic trappings, suspense, romance.
It's a portrait of several lives and crammed with insightful
comedy. It also has an incestuous motif and a wounding finale.

"The Parasites" is not for readers with Third Grade mentality.
DdM again conveys rich atmosphere with a few strokes; she
knows how to entertain on a high level. She reminds us that
we can survive anything, except death.
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