I need to read more Margaret Drabble. This was thoroughly excellent. A kind of ramble about ageing that stretches out from Fran Stubbs, a seventy-something year old retiree-refusenik who works in something to do with care homes. The story takes in her recently bereaved son, an elderly gay couple in the Canary Islands, a friend who lives in a retirement community set up as a mock university college, her housebound ex-husband who she provides with home cooked meals, and numerous other related characters. I want to say they are larger-than-life, but really they aren’t. I can quite believe in all of them and the relationships between them. The characters are all approaching death in different manners, and there’s a theme, from the title, of flood waters rising around them that plays out sometimes in literal as well as metaphorical terms. A thought provoking and enjoyable read, and it probably sounds as if a book about getting inexorably closer to death ought to be depressing but it definitely wasn’t.
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