Armino Fabbia grew up in the little town of Ruffiano, where his father was the custodian of the old Ducal palace. Armino and his older brother Aldo knew every part of the palace.
When WWII broke out, everything went wrong. Aldo was shot down in his plane and died, their father was arrested and died in a prisoner of war camp en Armino and his mother fled. He never returned to Ruffiano.
Now he is a guide at a touring company, that organises tours around Italy. It is his job to make sure all the people are happy, the reservations are made and all problems are solved.
During a stop in Rome, a beggarwoman is murdered, a woman Armino helped just moments before. He finds out she was the servant who took care of him when he was a child. His revelation makes him burn all his bridges: he leaves the touringcompany and goes back to Ruffiano.
Here he finds a little town where time stood still and that has changed in other respects. At the university there is a rivalry between the new faculty of commerce and economics and the old faculties like arts and education.
But the ducal palace is still there and even the old history of the dukes of Ruffiano is not forgotten. There is somebody at the university that wants to bring this old history back to life and is prepared to do many things to make this happen. This will have a huge impact on Armino, when he finds out his own personal history is also tied up with this.
The flight of the falcon is one of the historical novels Daphne du Maurier wrote. In general it is not seen as one of her best novels, but I must say I really enjoyed it. Perhaps because I read it while I was in Bologna and although this is not the city Ruffiano is based on, it is still a medieval Italian city with a university. So that made the story very alive for me, I could easily not only imagine the students running around the city, but also the duke on his horse, so many centuries ago.
I really enjoyed how she managed to link together the present (sixties Italy), WWII and the history of the bad duke. Because history is always linked, and events are never on their own. I also loved the parallels with the present day and WWII. With Armino you begin to question the events when you learn more and you realize that something is not right. Because there is a difference between standing in a tradition and misusing history for your own benefit.
Although I agree this was not her best novel, there was a lot I enjoyed in The flight of the falcon.
Published in 1965