Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Parasites” as Want to Read:
The Parasites
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Parasites

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  913 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
The backward glances at the careers of the young Delaneys reveal vistas of a vanishing Europe rich in colour and throbbing with old gaiety. The clash of the impulsive, artistic family with the calculating, aristocratic one is extremely well worked out. Above all, the three young Delaneys are characters one accepts as authentic.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 5th 2005 by Virago (first published 1949)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Parasites, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Gergana Tsvetanova Put this under spoiler brackets, please!

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,147)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan 11, 2013 Maureen rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, 2012, novels
i'm still thinking about this book three days later. it differs from other du maurier works in that there isn't anything gothic or spooky about it. the parasites is a novel of three siblings, two of whom are not related to each other by blood: maria, the daughter of a famous singer who marries an even more famous dancer who has a son named niall born in the same year as maria, and celia, the daughter the two artists come to have together. it is told mostly in flashback: the three siblings are ca ...more
Sep 01, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it
I was not prepared for how fascinating and beautiful this novel is. Yes, Sketchbook and Maureen of Goodreads had recommended it, but I suppose I had Du Maurier's biographer (Margaret Forster) in my ear: there are three Du Maurier novels that remain masterpieces; this was not of them. In fact, checking now, I do not even find it in her index though I know it was mentioned, at least a couple of times, in her text.
Richly imagined, original in its execution, this is a novel as much about art, the l
Jul 08, 2013 Kelly rated it really liked it
I am really beginning to become a du Maurier fan. I find that her books are very easy to read, while still well written. There was nothing "spooky" about this story, as most of her other novels seem to have that common theme. The story revolves around three siblings who "feed off of each other" in a negative way throughout their lives. The story and the interaction between the characters really had me engrossed from the beginning. It might have been a five-star read for me, had the ending been b ...more
Nov 28, 2009 Misfit rated it really liked it
"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
Aug 18, 2011 Jayme rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Holy underrated book, Batman! I actually liked this one quite a bit more than Rebecca and the only thing keeping it from being five stars was that I kept getting distracted by the weird choice for the book's narrator. This story followed the lives of three semi-related siblings, Niall, Maria, and Celia. All of them having at least one parent different from the other. The narrator appears to be either a conglomeration of all three siblings or an omnicient unnamed, unvoiced fourth sibling. A littl ...more
Nov 16, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1. Dahphne du Maurier lesen?

Ich muss mit einem Geständnis beginnen: ich habe diese Autorin unterschätzt. Sie hat die Vorlagen für Hitchcocks DIE VÖGEL, JAMAICA INN und REBECCA geschrieben, und auch die Erzählung WENN DIE GONDELN TRAUER TRAGEN, die 1973 Vorlage zu einem erfolgreichen Film wurde. Es scheint, als sollte man sich ihrer, wenn überhaupt, vorzugsweise erinnern als Autorin von Romanen und Erzählungen, die durch großartige Verfilmungen bekannt wurden. Und eben das hieße, Daphne du Mauri
Rachael Eyre
Apr 25, 2016 Rachael Eyre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 12, 2011 Lynette rated it really liked it
Filled with character stories and sordid affairs, this book had me riveted. I couldn't put it down. The only reason that I didn't give it five stars was I was highly disappointed in the end. It's not like one of those endings where it's not what you want, so you're disappointed - no, it just kind of trails off. I suppose du Maurier wants the reader to draw her own conclusions, and I always hate endings like that.

I loved how suggestive du Maurier could be without crossing the boundary into smut.
Jennifer Hughes
I have a hard time rating this book. It's not so much of a novel as a character study. In fact, I think most of these chapters could stand on their own as little character study short stories. This is not any kind of mystery or gothic book like Rebecca but rather just a kind of "day in the life" with lots of flashbacks. The slow pace, relationships focus, and tiny movements that represented or eventually developed into something large reminded me a bit of Edith Wharton.

The thing is, The Parasite
Jun 19, 2015 Roberta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, uk
I parassiti (The Parasites) è, credo, un'opera minore di Daphne du Maurier, che è nota ovviamente per il grande Rebecca. Dopo aver letto Rebecca e La cugina Rachele, ho trovato I parassiti molto diverso: non c'è un'ambientazione gotica o una persona misteriosa che potrebbe o meno essere un'abile assassina. Si tratta infatti di un'indagine psicologica e di una saga familiare insieme. I Delaney stanno trascorrendo una domenica piovosa in una magione di campagna. Sono Celia, Maria e Niall, non prop ...more
Jan 25, 2012 Amy rated it it was amazing
Despite loving du Maurier, I had never heard of 'The Parasites' until I discovered it in a local second-hand book store. Despite not really having a clue what this novel was about, it really cemented my belief that sometimes reading a novel by a favourite author can be a really wonderful experience, and that is certainly true of my reading of this novel.

'The Parasites' begins with the Delaney siblings; Maria, Niall and Celia, being in Maria's marital home with her husband Charles. When he sudden
Oct 15, 2014 Lynda rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I read this immediately after I had read Captivated with its description of the entanglements between The playwright J.M. Barrie, and the Du Maurier family so this gave the novel extra elements for me. Though the tone of the novel is classic Du Maurier laced with nostalgia and loss and the sense of time passing the plot is a departure from the high romantic tone of many of her other novels. In this novel she writes of a theatrical setting that would have been familiar to her as a child and uses ...more
Apr 16, 2012 Elaine rated it really liked it
I've rather shamefully never read any of Du Maurier's books aside from Rebecca so picked this up to rectify that!

I'm glad I did as I really enjoyed it. It seems Du Maurier is very good at writing about spoilt upper classes and that is effectively what this book is about. It takes place, in the most part, over the space of one day and the story unfolds in flashback. There's also a fantastic 'Weekend in the country' scene which made me laugh out loud. Worth reading for that alone.

The characters (
Aug 23, 2015 Ashleigh rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
This book is very different to the du Maurier I have read so far, something I would not have normally picked up myself but was actually quite incredible. It's dark in a very different way to the usual Gothic style to her novels and I really appreciated that. It wasn't the easiest book to get in to, it didn't have me at the first page like several others have, but once I was in to it I read it quickly.

Make no mistake, the characters in this book are detestable and I think if anyone else had writ
Nov 20, 2008 Denis rated it really liked it
Not one of Du Maurier's most famous novels, but one of her very best, maybe because, for once, it's not a gothic mystery. Du Maurier's style isn't extraordinarily inventive, but it's very solid, accurate, and she has a gift for telling compelling stories with great characters. This novel about a family of artists and the complex ties that bind them all has more depth than one could expect and is the kind of book you want to read by a fire on a winter night.
Andrew Scaife
May 13, 2009 Andrew Scaife rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure at first. This is very much a character study rather than straight forward narrative but crickey, once you get absorbed into their world and lifestyle it's compelling stuff. And like all du Maurier, has a great ending that left me contemplative and satisfied.
Mar 31, 2010 Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A story about dissipation, inappropriate family ties, and the perversity of the rich and famous. Salacious, but also genuinely literary and unsettling. Loved it.
Aug 11, 2014 Sorcha rated it really liked it
The backward glances at the careers of the young Delaneys reveal vistas of a vanishing Europe rich in colour and throbbing with old gaiety. The clash of the impulsive, artistic family with the calculating, aristocratic one is extremely well worked out. Above all, the three young Delaneys are characters one accepts as authentic.

One of the few books - if the only book - by du Maurier that is set at roughly the time it was written (it was published in 1949 and set in the 1930s and 1940s) and is a s
Dec 01, 2012 Sketchbook rated it really liked it
Was it all illusion?

The Delaney siblings, nearing 40, are startled to
hear the husband of one call them "parasites." His
nasty liner isn't true. Maria (wife of a stuffed
shirt landowner) is a top actress in the West End.
The popular songs of her bro Niall have made him
rich & famous. The youngest Delaney, Celia, has spent
her life doing for family. All three are composites
of DdM.

She comes w a brand name : grandfather George wrote
"Trilby." Papa Gerald, a celebrated actor-producer, gave
Tallulah her
alessandra falca
Daphne du Maurier è chiaramente conosciuta e associata ad Alfred Hitchcock per "Rebecca, la prima moglie" e per "Gli Uccelli", ma in realtà è una scrittrice coi contro-fiocchi. Giochi psicologici nella descrizone dei personaggi, ossessioni e ansie popolano tutte le persone che incontriamo in questo libro. Libro ambientato in una Londra degli anni '50 tra artisti attori e palchi. Accidentalmente questa mia copia dei 'Parassiti' regalatami a natale era una copia 'fallata', mancante di circa 30 pag ...more
Jul 05, 2014 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read many of Daphne Du Mauriers other books I was not disappointed with The Parasites. The complicated relationship between Maria, Niall and Celia is explored through revisiting the past in a way that Daphne does so well. The passage through their lives does enlighten you in some way as to why the children behave as they do. You can also tell that Daphne writes from experience as the children live in France for a time, just as she did herself. The ending is again rather strange and you ar ...more
Oct 08, 2014 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it

This book is really good, well written as always with Du Maurier's work. The siblings have a sad childhood which carries over to adulthood. The parents who cherish their careers over the children actually mirror those of today resulting in troubled children growing up lost and needy. Celia was basically a saint, while Maria and the boy were selfish and obviously unnaturally close. I didn't like Maria but did pity her. This is a good book club book as there are plenty of topics to discuss
Oct 10, 2015 Nina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ath-stacks
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 07, 2016 Gwen rated it it was amazing
I've really enjoyed every Daphne du Maurier book I've read, and loved this one, too. The most interesting thing I thought is that not only do you have three unreliable narrators, but also a fourth, a "we" who isn't any of the others. The narration does a lot of head-hopping, which works really well here. It keeps all three siblings tied up tightly together - moving from the thoughts of one to another on the same page, or even within the same paragraph, makes sense when you realise what an intens ...more
Nov 07, 2014 Kitty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was very different to du Maurier's more famous novels, with none of the drama or suspense of Rebecca or Jamaica Inn - yet her storytelling ability still swept me up and kept me interested in the lives of the protagonists until the very end. It begins with the three Delaney siblings, Maria, Niall and Celia, reminiscing on a winter's evening - or rather forced into analysing their collective and individual pasts by a sudden outburst from Maria's husband that gives the book its title. By way o ...more
Feb 27, 2016 Heidi rated it really liked it
Recommended by Slightly Foxed Books: "Novels You Must Read". Thanks Slightly Foxed! I'm such a Daphne du Marier fan, but I hadn't been able to get my hands on a copy of this until now. This is what she does best- the layers in relationships, the inner workings of a mind. I enjoyed it from start to finish.
Aug 20, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Possibly one of du Maurier's best. I can't really find anything to fault with this novel. At times laugh out loud funny, at times poignant. It explores the relationship of three siblings and the impact they have on those around them. This would make a great play if transferred to the stage.
Aug 08, 2011 Tay rated it it was amazing
This is a classic - it reaches into the darkest part of the human mind and soul and then drags your innermost thoughts out to be exposed. One may have hidden your tots and fears beneath your job, yur family, your talents - but this book challenges you to think about the truth
Shirley Evans
Sep 11, 2013 Shirley Evans rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading the Parasites. Du Maurier writes beautifully, the characters were lively, unusual, even fascinating and the plot had everything a plot should have. In one scene I just laughed out loud - rare treat in many modern novels. I was so sorry to finish it.
This novel tells about the life of the Delaneys. Maria is the biological daughter of Pappy, Niall is the biological child of Mammy, and Celia is the only child of both Pappy and Mammy. The children are talented and gifted in their own way but are flawed characteristically. Maria is spoiled and selfish with the ability to act and pretend to be someone else. She becomes an actress. Niall is understanding and sympathetic towards Maria with a talent of composing music on the piano.He has a laziness ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 71 72 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Weather in the Streets
  • Maurice Guest
  • Love For Lydia
  • Look at Me
  • The World of the Short Story: A Twentieth Century Collection
  • The Silent Duchess
  • A Wreath of Roses
  • More Die of Heartbreak
  • The Egoist
  • Great Detectives: A Century of the Best Mysteries from England and America
  • Claudine at School
  • Diary of a Mad Old Man
  • The Heat of the Day
  • The Unlit Lamp
  • The Rising Tide
  • The Wide Net and Other Stories
  • L'isola di Arturo
  • A Lost Lady
If Daphne du Maurier had written only Rebecca, she would still be one of the great shapers of popular culture and the modern imagination. Few writers have created more magical and mysterious places than Jamaica Inn and Manderley, buildings invested with a rich character that gives them a memorable life of their own.

In many ways the life of Daphne du Maurier resembles a fairy tale. Born into a fami
More about Daphne du Maurier...

Share This Book

“Watch that boy. He's going to startle somebody someday.” 17 likes
“Once a person gave his talent to the world, the world put a stamp upon it. The talent was not a personal possession any more. It was something to be traded, bought and sold. It fetched a high price, or a low one. It was kicked in the common market.” 10 likes
More quotes…