My experience of rereading Rebecca (the only novel of du Maurier's I have read before) was very similar to what nisaba described:
It was intersting re-reading Rebecca again recently, not having read it since I was in my early 20s. Then, I felt so sorry for the main character, really empathised with her, and hated Rebecca. Nowadays I just want to deck her and tell her to stop being such a piece of wet lettuce... To be fair to the main character, she realises this, a little, in that she notices that Maxim treats her like a loyal dog, but she doesn't realise that her own behaviour is contributing to that. Irritated me no end all through the book.
I too loved the book when first I read it, but to me as an adult the narrator is an intensely unsatisfying character. Her self abnegation and silences are frustrating and tiring. I couldn't help wondering if contemporary readers felt the same way about her. The advantage of her social inadequacies enable her to be the outsider, the intruder to Manderley so we can intrude with her. The house is the real heroine of the novel. The feature that all the novels I've read so far share is an incredibly intense and vivid sense of place, and not just Cornwall, but Paris, Florence, Norway and everywhere her characters roam. The unnamed heroine's sexual inadequacies serve to make Rebecca all the more compelling, with the Jane Eyrish doubling of the female characters a feature shared by many of her novels.
Reading the novels close together recurring themes and images sing out. Powerful, dark (in both senses) women dying of female cancers end their own lives but choose to involve and implicate others, weak pale women spend their lives in a kind of ecstacy fo embarrassment, strong women use men without loving them and ignore or neglect their children, men are either idlers or bullies, dynamic, dominant fathers became weak and babyish at the end of their lives, mothers die or are otherwise absent, men die weakly, women choose to end their lives as a gesture of defiant resignation, incest relationships are suggested or inferred.
Parasites was the least satisfying novel of the four, being almost as unengaging in the first chapters as I'll Never be Young Again. It veers unsuccessfully between the first and third person, perhaps because the same narrative voice is used