Parasites Tops Unappealing Novel with Appalling Title

The Parasites is matter-of-fact tale about “those horrible Delaney children” who grow into what the husband of one calls “parasites.”

The Delaneys’ parents were celebrities, she a dancer, he an opera singer. The children are half-siblings. Maria is his, Niall is hers, Celia the only legitimate child of theirs.

Maria becomes a successful actress. Niall settles for composing popular ditties better suited to his talents than the great music he yearns to write. Celia foregoes an art career to care for Papa.

When Maria marries the Honorable Charles Wyndham she makes sure dear Niall and dependable Celia are always around. Before long, relations between the conventional Charles and the Delaneys reach a crisis.

Daphne du Maurier has Celia narrate some of the story, occasionally referring to herself in the third person. Du Maurier gives other parts to an omniscient narrator.  Flashbacks add to the confusion.

The shifts make it hard to know  what is going on among the Delaneys, but if it’s what I suspect, I am just as glad I don’t know for sure.

The novel’s most serious flaw is the Delaneys themselves: Parasites are not appealing creatures.

The Parasites
by Daphne du Maurier
Doubleday, 1950
305 pages
1950 bestseller #6
My grade: C
©2010 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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