MLA Platinum Award Press Release

BookBrowse Reviews The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Dark Flood Rises

by Margaret Drabble

The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble X
The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2017, 336 pages
    Feb 2018, 336 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
Buy This Book

About this Book



A vital and audacious tale about the many ways in which we confront aging and living in a time of geopolitical rupture.

Margaret Drabble, the award-winning novelist and literary critic who is approaching eighty and showing no signs of slowing down, turns her attention to the passage of time and the recognition of human mortality in her latest novel. At its center is Francesca Stubbs, who has made it her life's work to make aging less onerous, indeed less dangerous, traveling around England inspecting and evaluating retirement homes and nursing facilities. Her work is, perhaps, less glamorous or cutting-edge than that of her younger colleagues, who evaluate innovations such as robots to help the elderly, but she knows that dignity and respect, as well as simple solutions, can often do more to ease a burden than any technological breakthrough ever could.

Francesca's story, which shows the energetic older woman engaging in her professional activities and also preoccupying herself with the concerns of her various family members and friends (some of whom are, themselves, in that aging population she has so long served), is interspersed with glimpses into these friends', family members', and acquaintances' own lives and interests. These include Francesca's son Christopher, who has returned to the Canary Islands, where his girlfriend became suddenly ill and died while shooting a documentary film about the refugee crisis, as well as Francesca's ex-husband, Claude, who is quite infirm and contents himself with his affection for his home health nurse as well as the meals Francesca makes and freezes for him. Francesca's daughter, Poppet, lives an isolated life in England's West Country, fixated on various environmental causes. And her old friends Josephine and Teresa, whose friendships date back decades, are dealing with aging in their own very different ways.

Along the way, Drabble interjects her sizeable critical expertise, offering up the ways in which authors such as Samuel Beckett and William Butler Yeats have addressed the questions of aging, mortality, and the end of life. She also offers readers a broad medley of different approaches to aging, from rage to defeat to renewed vitality. Francesca herself offers one model that is both sensible and compassionate: "Her inspections… have made her aware of the infinitely clever and complex and inhumane delays and devices we create to avoid and deny death, to avoid fulfilling our destiny and arriving at our destination. And the result, in so many cases, has been that we arrive there not in good spirits, as we say our last farewells and greet the afterlife, but senseless, incontinent, demented, medicated into amnesia, aphasia, indignity."

The Dark Flood Rises, in addition to offering various considerations of individual mortality, also broadens its scope to examine the aging of our civilization and our world. Drabble depicts a Europe overrun with refugees desperate for solace and safety, an island chain at risk of destruction by volcanoes, an England whose lowlands are increasingly subject to flooding. Imagery of floods, both literal and figurative, recurs throughout the narrative and gives the novel a feeling of impending doom and a sort of inevitability, an ending that is never wished for but approaches relentlessly.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in March 2017, and has been updated for the February 2018 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Race Against Time
    Race Against Time
    by Jerry Mitchell
    Jerry Mitchell spent nearly three decades trailing cold cases from the Civil Rights Movement. As a ...
  • Book Jacket: The Resisters
    The Resisters
    by Gish Jen
    Gish Jen's The Resisters depicts a future United States, dubbed AutoAmerica, where climate change ...
  • Book Jacket: The Mercies
    The Mercies
    by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
    It's 1617 and a violent storm has claimed the lives of 40 fishermen off the coast of Vardø, a ...
  • Book Jacket
    Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree
    by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
    Ya Ta, the main character in Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani's novel, Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree, ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    And They Called It Camelot
    by Stephanie Marie Thornton

    An unforgettable portrait of American legend Jackie O.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    I Want You to Know We're Still Here
    by Esther Safran Foer

    "A vivid testimony to the power of memory."
    - Kirkus (starred review)
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Things They Carried
by Tim O'Brien

The classic, ground-breaking meditation on war and the redemptive power of storytelling.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Mostly Dead Things

Mostly Dead Things
by Kristen Arnett

"Hilarious, deeply morbid, and full of heart."
- BuzzFeed



Solve this clue:

T Die I C

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.