Brilliant story and one I regularly recommend to friends. I can’t imagine anyone not thinking it’s cool.
I think critics are quite right is calling this a cold war parable – if only because of the description of the nuclear winter landscape and that bitter East wind.
I love the fact that no one has the slightest explanation for why nature would suddenly turn against mankind in such a deadly and unforgiving way. du Maurier cuts her characters off in such a brutal and claustrophobic fashion that I defy anyone not to sympathise with the wily protagonist as he struggles without help to save his family.
I like to speculate about what happens after the end of the story. How ironic that mankind may be turned into permanent scavengers living on the edge, just as we have turned so many wild creatures into just that.