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The Flight of the Falcon by Daphne du…
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The Flight of the Falcon (1965)

by Daphne du Maurier

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Recently added byprivate library, robinhoo, vernefan, nyce, David_of_PA, phantomswife
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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
I adore the writing of Daphne du Maurier. She blends suspense, moving description and psychological intrigue in a way that few other writers have mastered. The Flight of the Falcon is not one of her more acclaimed works, it is largely overlooked, but I have always thought it one of the best. There is a deeper meaning hidden within its pages, that would appear to me to be about temptation, self-illusion, the struggle of good and evil within a man, and the importance of being willing to dare and to try and to perish in the effort.

Armino Fabbio is a nondescript tour guide, making his way through the familiar territory of Rome, when he is plunged into his past by a chance encounter with a woman, a drunken destitute woman, who reminds him of his childhood nurse, Marta. Because of this encounter, he returns to his roots, a town named Ruffano, where his father was the curator of a museum before his death during WWII. In Ruffano, he discovers that the past that he believed to be dead and gone is alive and all-consuming.

Woven throughout this story are religious images, but not a moral treatise. Christ and Satan seem at war here, but which is which is sometimes difficult to determine. At one point a fellow character quotes him Nietzsche, “He who no longer finds what is great in God will find it nowhere; he must either deny it or create it.” Much of this book is about that need to believe or create. Nothing about Armino’s past seems cut in stone, everything malleable, and as the pieces unfold he must determine how these truths alter his present and future. What is clear is that he will never be able to be an anonymous, uninvolved, unattached tour guide again.

I hope to re-read many of du Maurier’s novels this year. It has been long enough on each of them that they come to me fresh and alive, and sometimes even surprising. She writes the way Hitchcock directs, with pace and development that build to a crescendo. I love that feeling of being swept along by the wind and then plopped back to earth again. I’m pleased she took me along on the Falcon’s flight.


( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Armino Fabbio is a courier for a tour company. While escorting a group of British and Americans (beef and barbarians as they are called in the touring business) from Florence to Naples, he gives a 10,000 lire note to a peasant woman on the steps of a church. The next day he discovers that the woman was murdered and she had no money on her. Convinced that he caused her death by giving her the large sum, he attends at the police station with two of his tour group who want to tell the police about seeing her the night before. When he views the body he believes her to be the woman who was his nurse as a young boy. He decides to return to the city in which he was raised to investigate.

Armino left Ruffano at age 11 during the second world war. His older brother, Aldo, was killed when his plane was shot down and his father died in a prison camp. His mother took up with a German general and went to Frankfurt with him (taking Armino away from his home). Armino has never been back to Ruffano. His mother died of cancer a few years previous to the book. She had remarried and Armino took his stepfather's last name. Thus, when he returns to Ruffano, no-one connects him with the Donati family.

Armino finds a temporary job in the University library and looks into his old nurse's murder. He goes to his old house which he discovers is now owned by the Rector of the University. While waiting outside of it he sees what he believes must be a ghost for a male visitor to the house looks exactly like his brother Aldo.

Soon he discovers that his brother is indeed alive and the city's Art Director now. In this capacity he is responsible for the upcoming festival which will reenact a scene from the city's history.

Armino is overjoyed to find Aldo is alive but as the brothers rediscover each other, Armino wonders is Aldo is quite sane. Aldo has a band of followers who seem prepared to do anything for him. The festival re-enactment will pit two student factions against each other. And it becomes obvious that Aldo is involved with the Rector's wife. Is the evil Duke Claudio reincarnated as Aldo? And will the violent end to the Duke's reign be repeated during the festival? And who killed the old nurse?

Read the book for the answers. While the style of writing is somewhat dated and uses more British slang than a book involving only Italians should, the story is quite interesting. I was surprised by the ending although some of the smaller denouements were easier to guess. I was also surprised that the book was so sexual. It's not that there were any explicit sex scenes but the allusions to illicit sex were pervasive. For a book that was serialized in Good Housekeeping magazine in 1965 it seemed quite risque. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 25, 2017 |
This was, I felt, a bit patchy. Tells a story over 10 days set in Rome & Ruffano, a small city set about a ducal palace. This is Armino's hometown, from which he left, age 11, when his mother left with the Germans. And Armino's been running away from the place and his past ever since. He returns when he discovers a woman on the steps of a Rome church who reminds him of his nurse. When he then discovers that she was murdered it sets in play a chain of events that have many surprising consequences.

There were several points where the plot twist surprised me and a couple where I kind of got it coming, but it certainly had a winding narrative. I felt that the tone of the book was a bit confused. At one moment it would be rational, at another entirely irrational and there seemed to be little to trigger a switch between the two. He ends up in a very difficult situation, entirely out of his control, no matter how hard he might try. The ending is somehow inevitable although not quite what I expected. ( )
  Helenliz | Aug 8, 2017 |
Why don't people read Daphne Du Maurier any more? What took me so long to come back to her work??? She is a master story teller. This is a well told story - in a third person narration - a story both male and female readers would enjoy.

It is a story of layered mysteries and suprises - fairly well developed characters - and a plot that will keep you guessing up to the last page. ( )
  TerryLewis | Jun 12, 2017 |
My first du Maurier, and I am sold.

"We were right on time. Sunshine Tours informed its passengers on the printed itinerary that their coach was due at the Hotel Splendido, Rome, at approximately 1800 hours. Glancing at my watch, I saw that it wanted three minutes to the hour.
'You owe me five hundred lire,' I said to Beppo.
The driver grinned. 'We'll see about that in Naples,' he said. 'In Naples I shall present you with a bill for more than two thousand lire.'"


It's fairly rare that books really intrigue me from the very first line. I don't mind, I can spare a little time to get warmed up to the story as long as the writing is decent. But instant hook? Excellent! I was immediately curious. Who are these guys, why are they betting on this tour, who will wind up winning later!, and, what's going to happen on the way?! It's a pretty simple opening, but it drops you right into the middle of things, things that aren't huge, it's nothing major going on, apparently a little bet between someone and a tour bus driver. Yet it's somehow quite intriguing! It just works. At least it did for me.

The reviews here are all over the place, a couple love it, a couple think it's drab junk, others think her writing is enough to keep interest but it's not her greatest. Hmm!
All I can say is, I really loved this book. In my opinion, it was great writing, a compelling plot, interesting characters, gripping intrigue, a mild hint of romance, a bit of mystery... The Manchester Evening News blurbed it "Du Maurier at her best," and I have no other du Maurier to compare it to, yet, so I can't say whether they (or the reviews here) are correct. But I barely put it down once I started, and I am excited to read more of du Maurier in the future. ( )
  .Monkey. | Aug 27, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Maurier, Daphne duprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Craig, AmandaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Flight of the Falcon was published in 1965, coincidentally the year my own family moved to Italy, to the very city where the novel opens: Rome.
We were right on time.
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Book description
VIRAGO EDITION:
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 learns, was his family's beloved servant many years ago, in his native town of Ruffano.

Over five hundred years before, the sinister Duke Claudio, known as The Falcon, lived his twisted, brutal life preying on the people of Ruffano. Now, in the twentieth century, the town seems to have forgotten its violent history. But have thing really changed? The parallels between the past and present begin to converge in this masterpiece of haunting atmosphere and hypnotic suspense.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 038505355X, Hardcover)

It is 500 years since Duke Claudio the Falcon lived his brutal life in Ruffano, Italy. Now the modern day town has forgotten its violent history. Its University his a shiny new Commerce and Economics building - but have things really changed?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:04 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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. He gradually comes to realise she was his family's beloved servant many years ago, in his native town of Ruffano.… (more)

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