Fran, an aging but energetic expert on elder housing, drives around the English countryside visiting facilities and also friends and family.  She, herself, is not at all ready to go gentle into the good night so many others are facing.  But everywhere she encounters reminders of mortality--her son's fiancee suddenly dies; an old friend is dying a lingering death of cancer; others in her circle of family and friends are facing their own or others' mortality in various ways, including natural disasters like earthquake and flood.  The episodic story takes place in England and in the Canary Islands; the large cast of characters are linked by intersecting stories and by their mortality, of which they, and the reader, are recurrently reminded.    


Laced with Drabble's dry wit and the main character's occasionally acerbic observations about aging and dying, the former of which she regards as "a fucking disaster," the novel challenges readers to accept the uneasy terms on which we all get to be here, the fact that no place is "safe," that all our contracts with each other and life itself are provisional, but that in the midst of it consolations come, if we are willing to receive them on the limited terms in which they are given.  It is a lively book in its dark way, and another example of Drabble's deft and reliable skill at turning sentences that are surprising and memorable.


Farrar, Straus & Giroux

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