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“For whom the caps fit” 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).

4.0 out of 5 starsMy, 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?), and I really didn’t get *into the groove* until the last 100 pages or so. And that ending – she sure can leave you hanging in ambiguity wondering what really happened. While Du Maurier’s writing is top notch as always this was a very different novel with very unlikable characters and might be best for die-hard Du Maurier fans only. Four stars, but if it had been written by anyone else it would’ve only got three.

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