Shirley Hazzard's Cliffs of Fall and Other Stories appeared in 1963. This, her first novel, is transitional and does not quite achieve the distance or dimension of the extended genre. Many of the soft and supple properties of her stories, notably a sense of mood, have been retained, along with the Italian background used (Siena?) in several of them. Sophie, an English woman, holidaying in Italy, meets Tancredi, fortyish, separated from the troublesome wife he can never divorce. Tancredi has certain of the attractions of his country-- grace and a ""lack of earnestness."" The Brief Encounter begins on a note of halfhearted acquiescence-- she meets him on the piazza for an aperitif; they spend several weeks together, here, in this city north of Rome, there , on a trip to Florence, both in the unadmitted awareness that the relationship is a terminal one to begin with. It is exclusive; it is abstract, it has a ""total lack of reference."" And, of course, it ends.... This is all told with a certain weightless detachment which, while it defines the quality of the experience admirably, is also limited by it.