24 December 2014

Review: THE FLIGHT OF THE FALCON, Daphne du Maurier

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 448 KB
  • Print Length: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (June 7, 2012), first published 1965
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008258YAI
Synopsis  (Amazon)

As a young guide for Sunshine Tours, Armino Fabbio leads a pleasant, if humdrum life -- until he becomes circumstantially involved in the murder of an old peasant woman in Rome. The woman, he gradually comes to realise, was his family's beloved servant many years ago, in his native town of Ruffano. He returns to his birthplace, and once there, finds it is haunted by the phantom of his brother, Aldo, shot down in flames in '43.

Over five hundred years before, the sinister Duke Claudio, known as The Falcon, lived his twisted, brutal life, preying on the people of Ruffano. But now it is the twentieth century, and the town seems to have forgotten its violent history. But have things really changed? The parallels between the past and present become ever more evident.

My take

I read a lot of Daphne du Maurier novels in my earlier years but nothing for some time. In fact I appear to have had a du Maurier binge in 1975, and even read THE FLIGHT OF THE FALCON back then, but remember nothing of the plot. I do remember how much I enjoyed her novels though.

The Amazon reviews of the novel are certainly a mixed lot. For me the novel has a sort of Gothic quality. Armino Fabbio discovers that his brother whom he was told was dead, shot down in flames in 1943, is not only alive, but just as manipulative as "Beo" remembers him to be. It is as if he has taken on the persona of "the Falcon", the sinister duke Claudio.

The action of the novel climaxes with the Ruffano festival, a one day event choreographed for the last three years by Aldo in his role as the Arts Director of the Ruffano Ducal Palace. This year he wants to involve all the town's university students in a re-enactment of the event which led to the death of Duke Claudio five hundred years earlier. Aldo offers Armino a part in the celebrations but he becomes concerned that it might result in bloodshed with student faculties attacking each other.

Meanwhile the investigation continues into the death in Rome of an old peasant woman. Armino realizes that he knows who she was and feels in some way responsible for her death. She was in fact the nanny of both Armino, and, before him, Aldo. There is a mystery attached to how she had come into their family.

I did enjoy reading this novel which I have included in my list for the Silver Vintage Reading Challenge. - a book by an author I've read before. I think it has survived fifty years very well.

My rating: 4.4

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