I’ve been slowly moving through Hall’s novels, with deep appreciation for how excellent they are. Waiting For The Flood, though a novella, is no less well-wrought, perhaps more so, because of what Hall accomplishes in a shorter work.
Essentially, the plot develops over the course of a few days (perhaps a week) in which flood waters progressively rise in Oxfordshire, threatening the main character’s house, Edwin Tully, as well as those of his neighbors. Edwin is nursing his heartbreak over the end of his ten-year relationship with Marius, in the house they once shared. Along comes Adam Dacre, from the Environment Agency, and offering Edwin something new, if he would only take a chance.
In Waiting for the Flood, Edwin, like Laurie from For Real, is wounded by the abandonment of a partner he thought was his ‘forever.’ They are both just getting by emotionally. He’s intelligent (all of Hall’s main characters are, some in bookish ways, some in self-knowledge.) and shy because of his stutter, which I initially thought was nervousness. His preoccupation with phonetics in the first chapter should have clued me in to this fact. Adam is probably one of my favorite characters, besides Darian in Glitterland, because he brings so much acceptance to his budding relationship with Edwin. Using the house as a structure upon which to shape the novella was incredibly insightful. I won’t give the ending away but do pay attention to the subtle shift in the last chapter. And recipes. Always a recipe 😊.
One wonderful surprise was the depth of these two characters, given the length of the book. There is so much depth to Edwin’s mourning and Adam’s kindness. I should note that this expression of kindness and acceptance characterizes the relationships in Spires – there is a tender benevolence between the leads, even when the characters are acting in ridiculously myopic ways. This appreciation for the delicate emotion attempting to blossom between the characters lends each story an elegant beauty, particularly when the couples finally surrender to their feelings. There’s no intentional cruelty, only a struggle to love well as only people with histories and emotional scars can love. And it’s lovely to see.
This is a five star read, as are all the novels in this series. All worth reading and rereading.