Good yarn a little frayed

This is my review of The Flight Of The Falcon (Virago Modern Classics) by Daphne Du Maurier.

Armino Fabbio, a competent but jaded tour guide, feels responsible for the death of someone perhaps recognised from his childhood. This takes him back to Ruffano, the quaint Italian hill town of his birth, which revives memories not only of the destructive effects of World War 2 on his family but also of his domination by Aldo, the charismatic elder brother shot down as a pilot.

Despite a promising beginning and my huge admiration for gripping psychological dramas like "Rebecca" or "My Cousin Rachel", I was sufficiently unengaged by this novel to notice with disappointment the flaws: two-dimensional characters, stilted dialogues, unlikely coincidences, some rather tedious surfeit of detail. Yet many passages are brilliant, apparently effortless in their clarity and striking impact. I was also tantalised by my inability to grasp the geography of the place, and would have liked a streetmap.

Published in 1965, twenty-seven years after Rebecca, this novel may be a bit dated, the work of a popular novelist still spinning yarns in the style of earlier decades, without any further development as a writer. In spite of my reluctant reservations, although I guessed the key twists in advance, and some of the plot is a bit ludicrous, I was gripped eventually – I think by the idea of Fabbio being able to pass himself off as a stranger in familiar territory, even with people he once knew. This intriguing aspect of "false identity" is often employed by Du Maurier.

I found Fabbio an emotionally cold character, which could be attributed to his dysfunctional childhood, but was interested to read that Du Maurier herself often seemed rather chilly and remote.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 Stars

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