The Falconer

Elaine Clark McCarthy, Author
Elaine Clark McCarthy, Author Random House (NY) $14.95 (134p) ISBN 978-0-679-44874-7
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7871-0942-4
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The story of a passionate but doomed love affair related by a 37-year-old woman who has inoperable cancer, McCarthy's debut transcends the genre of pulp romance fiction through her poetic use of metaphor. Even so, it's a calculated weeper, heavy with emotional downers and melodramatic contrivances. Purposefully forming a list of things to do before she dies, India Blake makes certain to include only those goals still attainable-like a ride in a balloon or seeing the ocean-with an emphasis on the natural world. It seems unlikely that her philandering husband, Dougie, will either help or hinder the fulfillment of these modest aspirations, since-from India's perspective-he's just waiting for her to die so that he can see his latest girlfriend openly. In fact, perspective plays a big part in this tale set in the Sierra Nevadas, with India acquiring much of hers through her all-too-brief relationship with Rhodri MacNeal, a falconer. India's life has been hard; she nursed her own alcoholic mother through a losing battle with cancer. Not only does Rhodri teach her how to fly falcons, but he also gives her the chance to be the little girl she never was. Ultimately, Rhodri helps India find her answers to the whys, hows and what-ifs that have shaped her life and, finally, to the Big Question: What does it all mean? The narrative is hampered by abrupt changes between narrator India's ""I must-keep-my-chin-up"" first-person mode and a curiously flat third-person overview. Yet those who enjoy stories about the discovery of belief, about finding meaning at the end, will surely gulp down sobs by the time this slender tale delivers its final coup de grace and releases India to fly at last. (May)
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