‘Flight of the Falcon’ by Daphne du Maurier

I forget how I came across this, but it was until recently unknown to me. I have always enjoyed Du Maurier’s books – the usual suspects, that is: Jamaica Inn, Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel, Frenchman’s Creek, ‘The Birds’ and other of her short stories. Checking now I see there are many, many more to choose from. Doubtless each piece of fiction contains that unique undercurrent of menace that Du Maurier imparts to every novel she writes.

For this novel, set some years after WWII she has based it in Italy, specifically in ‘Ruffano’, a university town based on Urbino. The setting had a marvellous feel of Italy and Italians about it. The novel first came out in 1965, when Baby Boomers had begun to make their way into universities with their impatience with traditional values. Ruffano is a microcosm of the traditional faculty and the ‘business and economics’ students. Vespas abound. The students are full of energy and opinions. (Just as it should be, in fact.)

There is an annual festival in the city which pits factions against each other. The novel builds towards this as its climax. It is apparent from early on that something dreadful will occur during the festival. That is Du Maurier’s talent, after all.

For this book du Maurier uses a male narrator. One is used to du Maurier’s beautifully drawn, damaged female protagonists, but this is a young man. A lost soul. He returns to Ruffalo on a whim, and remains there in thrall to his own past in the city while the ominous clouds of the festival gather about him. I was surprised that Du Maurier essayed a first person male protagonist. But she really gets inside his head.

I love Italy, and the descriptive passages about the city made me want to visit it (although I dare say it is much changed now). There are some longueurs within the plot: the preparations for the festival seem to take a long time to put together; one knows the blow will fall at the festival, the mechanics of how that is to occur are visible throughout, and Du Maurier sure does make the reader wait for the denouement. But – as usual with Du Maurier – the author has a fine grasp of human nature, its capacity for forgiveness, its nobility and its baseness, and all three are given full rein as the story unfolds.


Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed. BTW - it says the link to Facebook is broken. I dispute that. Click it and see, why not?

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