I am halfway through Margaret Drabble’s The Dark Flood Rises, a new novel which harkens back to her ambitious multi-character masterpieces of the ’70s and ’80s (my favorites are The Needle’s Eye, The Realms of Gold, and The Radiant Way). She boldly balances the struggles of her ageing characters and their children with a fictional investigation of the plight of the elderly, the sick, and the dying. Appropriate housing for the aged is at the core of the novel, and is in many ways at the core of the problems of ageing.
Drabble’s new novel is not as dark as you might expect. It is positively cozy compared to what we found as we searched for the right assisted living facility or nursing home for my mother. (In other words, we knew nothing about eldercare until we had to know.) My favorite character in The Dark Flood Rises is Fran Stubbs, an exuberant woman in her seventies, who works for “a charitable trust which devotes generous research funds to examining and improving the living arrangements of the ageing.” She is not slowing down, which we find cheering, and travels all over England to conferences, driving her car. She lives in a high-rise (not recommended for the aged), where she sometimes must walk up many flights of stairs. Her friends, many of whom are sick and dying, live in retirement communities, at home with aides, or, in one case, in the Canary Islands with a younger lover.
Brilliant writing! and depressing, but my mother would NOT have found it depressing.
AND NOW FOR LITERARY LINKS:
1. ARE YOU A RUSSIAN LITERATURE FAN? The TLS has recently published several articles on Russian literature.
Go here to read a review of 1917: Stories and poems of the Russian Revolution, edited by Boris Dralyuk
Go here to read a 1967 review by Edwin Morgan of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, which, by the way, had its fiftieth anniversary last year.
2 RACHEL INGALLS’ FICTION. At the Literary Hub, Daniel Handler writes on “The Best Writer You Don’t Know: Rachel Ingalls.” Pharos has republished three of Ingalls’ novellas in a new book, Three Masquerades.
3. WALT WHITMAN’S LOST NOVEL: JENNIFER SCHUESSLER at The New York Times writes,
The 36,000-word “Life and Adventures of Jack Engle,” which was discovered last summer by a graduate student, is being republished online on Monday by The Walt Whitman Quarterly Review and in book form by the University of Iowa Press. A quasi-Dickensian tale of an orphan’s adventures, it features a villainous lawyer, virtuous Quakers, glad-handing politicians, a sultry Spanish dancer and more than a few unlikely plot twists and jarring narrative shifts.
4. IS THE TEMPEST YOUR FAVORITE SHAKESPEARE PLAY? At the Barnes and Noble blog, Kelly Anderson writes about Jacqueline Carey’s new novel, Miranda and Caliban, a retelling of The Tempest.
Enjoy your reading!