“The Dark Flood Rises,” by Margaret Drabble, is a witty and purely delightful if dark, novel that deals with aging. Certainly if anyone is qualified to write this novel it’s Drabble who just turned 77.
Fran is the main character. She speeds around England in her Peugeot traveling from nursing homes to retirement homes as she evaluates them. She’s far from retired herself and she totally enjoys her work.
Fran’s twice married; once divorced and once widowed. Her first husband Claude and the father of her two children, is not so fortunate with his health. Claude subsists on homemade casseroles made by Fran and the paid companionship of a visiting caregiver. Oh, and the cat. But he’s not without a substantial amount of cash…
Then there’s Fran’s son Christopher who works in TV. He’s recently been involved with making a documentary film in the Canary Islands. That is, until his girlfriend died there.
Speaking of the Canary Islands, now there’s a place I love. We visited Tenerife fifteen years ago. What a paradise. In this novel you’ll meet a gay couple who moved to the island of Lazorate years ago. Bennett, who is the elder of the two, is now in his eighties and in poor health. His younger partner has turned into a caretaker now and wonders who on earth will take care of him when he’s in his dotage. But the scenes of the island are magnificent. And I enjoyed hearing the history of the islands. Plus, one of the dark floods rises is the rising tide of illegal immigrants coming across the ocean from Africa to land in a better place. And we know how that can go.
Fran has one friend who is on her last leg, literally. And another who seems well, indeed, but has decided to enter a retirement home before she needs to. These people are truly characters.
Fran has no time for older people trying to fight against the tide of time. Go with it is her mantra.
I found this the perfect novel to slide into the mix. Literary for sure but, not stuffy. I laughed and found myself agreeing with most of her tidbits about aches and pains of aging. I think you will too.