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The Dark Flood Rises: A Novel by Margaret…

The Dark Flood Rises: A Novel (edition 2017)

by Margaret Drabble (Author)

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1106109,733 (3.75)14
Title:The Dark Flood Rises: A Novel
Authors:Margaret Drabble (Author)
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2017), Edition: 1St Edition, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Aging, friendship, relationships, death and dying, England, Canary Islands

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The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble



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I love Margaret Drabble's writing ... you get a little story through a character's thoughts, or a conversation, or a narrative ... and then next section we're two weeks on in another part of the country or the world ... and so on - and you get the story in pieces, often from different perspectives.

Most of the characters were intriguing, though I found Fran's wilful stubbornness aggravating ... why live in such a miserable apartment, why drive when you know you shouldn't - but it seems standing still is death. Anyway, regardless, just makes me want to read another Drabble book.

'The Dark Flood Rises' is a lovely contrast with her 1965 novel, 'The Millstone'. ( )
  tandah | Jun 23, 2017 |
After completing this clear-eyed novelistic meditation on the inevitability of death, I can't help but think that Drabble knows this will be her last work. The central character, or linchpin, of this fairly sombre novel is Francesca Stubbs. In her seventies, she continues to work, driving about England to inspect old-age/retirement/care facilities for a charity. She maintains contact with a number of friends. She cooks and drops off meals for her ex-husband, former surgeon and continuing lecher, Claude, who is apparently terminally ill with an unidentified disease, but in no great pain. Drabble includes several points of view in the novel. Two of Fran's friends, Teresa Quinn and Jo Drummond, figure prominently, and Fran's son (Christopher) and environmentalist doomsayer daughter (Poppet) are also given the stage at times. A narrative strand that competes with Fran's concerns an aging gay couple, Bennett Carpenter (a former scholar in his nineties who is declining rapidly--both physically and mentally) and his partner. These two are contacts of Fran's son. Christopher has cause to visit them in their lovely and unusual Canary-Island abode as he attends to matters associated with the entirely sudden death of his romantic partner, a documentary film maker committed to human rights causes, who died on one of the islands a month or so before.

There is some lovely writing in Drabble's book, but I'll admit that every time the story turned to the Canary Islands, I groaned. Apparently Drabble has a fascination with the place, as well as with the Spanish Civil War, and the modern visual arts. It's probably not true to say there were endless disquisitions on these subjects, but it certainly felt like it to me. I could hardly wait to be done with them. I'm not clear on Drabble's objective in including them because as far as I could see they added little to the narrative and its overarching theme of the dark flood rising for (us) all. These inserted expository pieces sometimes tied characters in England and the Canaries together in terms of intellectual interests, but I can't say they did more than that.

Drabble occasionally takes on a nineteenth-century omniscient narrator's voice to comment on her characters, but, really, in the end, the only thing that narrator can be certain about is that it will all end for all of us. A novel whose theme is death is obviously not everyone's cup of tea! However, it is not always grim, and, as one would expect (given who the author is), there is some fine writing here. ( )
  fountainoverflows | Jun 12, 2017 |
The Dark Flood Rises drew me in from the first lines: "She has often suspected that her last words to herself and in this world will prove to be 'You bloody old fool' or, perhaps, depending on the mood of the day or the time of the night, 'You fucking idiot." Fran Stubbs, in her seventies, is struggling to stay busy and relevant in a world that tends to dismiss the elderly. She still works, inspecting senior care facilities. Her work takes her all over England. She has also begun to care for her dying ex-husband.

In fact, a lot of Fran's friends are dying, a hazard as one hits one's seventies. In the course of the novel, we meet Fran's friends and connections, all aging in various ways. This wonderful novel shows the challenges as one gets older. Should one continue to drive? Should one move to a retirement community? All of these are questions that arise; each person answers differently. Toward the end of the novel, after the death of some friends, Fran wonders whether she can keep it up: "She's in despair, but she can't help but be a little interested in what is going on out there, and the manner in which it's being relayed to her. It's part of her and she's part of it. Her life has been full of failure and defeat and triviality and small concerns, and at times she fears it is ending sadly. Her courage is running out, her energy is running out. She has lived vicariously, in the small concerns of others. The larger themes are leaving her."

This is a wonderful, honest novel. It shows the variations of aging and gives one hope that one can age with dignity. ( )
2 vote BLBera | Mar 27, 2017 |
I’m not a huge fan of Margaret Drabble’s, but I did enjoy this book. It is very literary and a bit of a slog to get through. I liked the characters and thought the reflections on aging were spot on. Although the effects of age and one’s mortality are ever present, the book was more comforting than depressing. Not a lot of action…just the ever passing on of everyday time and life. ( )
  vkmarco | Mar 27, 2017 |
Couldn't finish...
  Dianekeenoy | Mar 14, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374134952, Hardcover)

A magnificently mordant reckoning with mortality by the great British novelist

Francesca Stubbs has a very full life. A highly regarded expert on housing for the elderly who is herself getting on in age, she drives “restlessly round England,” which is “her last love . . . She wants to see it all before she dies.” Amid the professional conferences she attends, she fits in visits to old friends, brings home-cooked dinners to her ex-husband, texts her son, who is grieving over the sudden death of his girlfriend, and drops in on her daughter, a quirky young woman who lives in a floodplain in the West Country. The space between vitality and morality suddenly seems narrow, but Fran “is not ready to settle yet, with a cat upon her knee.” She still prizes her “frisson of autonomy,” her belief in herself as a dynamic individual doing meaningful work in the world.

This dark and glittering novel moves back and forth between an interconnected group of family and friends in England and a seemingly idyllic expat community in the Canary Islands. It is set against a backdrop of rising flood tides in Britain and the seismic fragility of the Canaries, where we also observe the flow of immigrants from an increasingly war-torn Middle East. With Margaret Drabble’s characteristic wit and deceptively simple prose, The Dark Flood Rises enthralls, entertains, and asks existential questions in equal measure. Of course, there is undeniable truth in Francesca’s insight: “Old age, it’s a fucking disaster!”

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 06 Oct 2016 20:59:26 -0400)

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