A Falcon Flies

Smith, Wilbur. A Falcon Flies. Read by Stephen Thorne. Hampton: BBC Audiobooks America, 1980.

A Falcon Flies opens with Dr. Robyn Ballantyne sailing to southern Africa on a mission. She hopes to bring medical aid and Christianity to the people of her birthplace, single handedly bring an end to the slave trade, and find her famous-yet-missing missionary father. Along for the ride is her brother, Zouga. Once in Africa, Zouga plays a big part in solving the mystery of his missing father while Robyn is distracted with the attention of different men. Luckily, this only occurs in the beginning of the book. Subsequently, Robyn becomes a fierce, brave, independent woman, hellbent on finding her father and delivering kindness to every native she meets.
Wilbur Smith’s style of writing is, at times, soap-opera exaggerated. Robyn’s emotions are extremely dramatic. Once I was able to accept this bewilderment as fact I was able to enjoy the book that much more. Since it goes on for over 500 pages, this was a good thing!

As an aside: For me, personally, there is something positively creepy about a man writing about desiring a man from a woman’s point of view. I don’t know what it is, but the sexual tension scenes in A Falcon Flies seemed over the top. Smith’s description of Captain Mungo St. John’s body from Dr. Robyn Ballantyne’s point of view was a little ridiculous. Ballantyne is attracted and repelled by the captain, but you know which side wins out. The scene with her waiting in the captain’s bedchambers with pistols drawn is a little silly. Maybe I should read more bodice-rippers in an effort to get used to such high-fainting drama.

I find it increasingly frustrating to listen to an audio book that skips all the time. As a librarian, I feel it is my moral responsibility to loan material that is pleasurable to the patron. I would have deaccessioned this audio book a longtime ago!

Reason read: Shangani Day (December 4th) was an official holiday in Rhodesia, back in 1895. Read in honor of that day.

Author fact: Smith has quite the flashy website here. It was fun to poke around.

Book trivia: A Falcon Flies was published in the United States as Flight of the Falcon.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Zipping Through Zimbabwe/Roaming Rhodesia” (p 269).

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