Sunday, 21 May 2017

Margaret Drabble, 'The Dark Flood Rises'

I love Margaret Drabble anyway, and this was no exception, and also a new development. It is a novel, and it is also a meditation on ageing. It is about three women (all her books are, pretty much) and, by the end of it, two of them are dead - not a spoiler. Other ageing people are there, and some younger ones too, who contemplate the ageing and approaching deaths of those around them with varying degrees of equanimity and fear. There is Sir Bennett Carpenter, the terrifyingly selfish old scholar, who doesn't seem to have much wrong with him but who is cared for in the Canary Islands by his long-term partner Ivor - of whom I hope we hear more, as he is very interesting. Francesca Stubbs, the "main" character, is still working in her seventies, and travelling around England as much as she can, staying in Premier Inns and striking up unlikely friendships.There are the indigenous people of the Canaries (or if they were not, how did they get there?), there is an Edwardian lady novelist, there are Jose Saramago and Yves Bonnefoy, and human selfishness and greed and kindness, and Midlands girlhood memories, and - oh, it's all fascinating, go and read it.

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