Mr. Flood's Last Resort

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 May 2018

Member Reviews

After reading 'Himself', Kidd's novel debut, I was thrilled to see this novel coming out. To start out with, I felt this novel almost was a slow burn. I had a bit of trouble getting into to it. But once I was in, I found Kidd's suspense and attention to detail pulling me through. I needed to know where the tale would go next. I found myself engrossed in the details of Bridlemere and Cathal Flood's tragic tale of woe. I wanted to know if Maud would solve the mystery of Maggie/Marguerite and live through it all. I was with the story to the very end and found myself racing to finish the book. I have to say, I remember frustrated by Kidd's technique to leave the reader hanging at the end of 'Himself. I didn't feel that way at the end of this novel. I felt some hopefulness for Maud by the slight unfinished feeling of the ending. I feel it was what Maud needed. I look forward to the next!
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“A spellbinding tale of a lonely caregiver
and a cranky hoarder with a house full of secrets.”

Elderly Cathal Flood lives in a gothic Victorian mansion in West London called Bridlemere. It is a large dwelling with four stories with a belvedere at the top offering its occupants a wide-ranging view of all of London. Cathal is a hoarder. He has been since his wife passed away some twenty-five years ago. Because of the dire state of his home, he has had difficulty keeping carers… until Maud Drennan.

Maud Drennan does not shock easily and she has a sunny disposition. She takes Cathal’s verbal abuse in her stride and the elderly Irish man, and the lonely Irish woman become friends of a sort. She becomes used to his countless cats and his odd collections of taxidermy and ancient curiosities. Valiantly, she makes inroads in his clutter, shifting the detritus to black bin bags.

“Memories are fickle creatures, you ought to know that, skittish and in no ways trustworthy.”

When Maud was a child, her elder sister went missing. She blamed herself. Traumatized, she took refuge in books – particularly in “The illustrated book of the saints“. Now, in adulthood, she carries the saints with her. Almost like a raft of imaginary friends, they cajole, advise, and chastise her on a regular basis.

“A house, a labyrinth of rubbish, a crazy old man, and a messsage in a bottle: all the ingredients of a twisted crime story”.

Now, as Cathal and Maud become more tolerant of each other, Maud attempts to ferret out information about the Flood family secret. With the help of her agoraphobic, transgender landlady, she tries to piece together the clues of Mary’s death and the fact that the Floods once had a daughter. What mystery lies behind the photograph with the faces burnt out? They wonder why old Cathal does not have anything to do with his only son.

“Everyone fears being read. Being found out. Everyone has their secrets.”

MY THOUGHTS

The blurb of this novel SO appealed to me. A gothic Victorian mansion in West London owned by a cantankerous and eccentric hoarder named Cathal Flood; his lonely carer Drennan; family secrets; a plethora of cats…. What could be better?

I absolutely loved the parts of the book that featured the relationship between Maud and Cathal Flood. I found him to be a pitiful old man, yet he retained his sense of humour and his spark. I also enjoyed the relationship between Maud and her friend Renata.

But then, I found that the chapters rich in characterization, descriptive and beautiful language and humour were marred by brief passages that made no sense to me and did not seem to ‘belong‘ to the rest of the book. There were passages relating the conversations of many different long deceased saints; some almost poltergeist like activity; and some random dream sequences. What did they have to do with the book? In my humble opinion they were superfluous to requirements and detracted greatly from the narrative.

I’m completely flummoxed as to how to rate this title. Parts were so stellar that they could rate nothing less than a 5+ stars. Character-rich, beautiful writing and description, and loaded with laugh-out-loud humour. Other parts left me bewildered and asking why I was reading the book at all – meriting about 2 stars. I settled on 3 stars because in my opinion the great parts of the book were marred by the strange parts. I recommend this novel with reservations. The reader should appreciate magical realism/fantasy interspersed in what is otherwise an outstanding literary novel.
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A little hard to know what to make of this novel. Kidd is a great writer, capable of creating amazing imagery and delighful turns of phrase. But while her previous book, Himself, held plenty of darkness but also managed to be quite funny, and full of small-town-Ireland heart, this follow up seems comparatively — and unintentionally — devoid of humor, and lacks all sense of place. 

The mysteries surrounding Cathal Flood and his caregiver, Maud, are meant to seem interconnected somehow, but apart from Maud’s somewhat inexplicable determination to solve the former while suppressing her memory of the latter, which never actually gets dealt with, they’re not connected at all. As Cathal’s story unfolds, Maud is always more reactive than proactive, but her psychology isn’t really explored enough to help one figure out why that might be the case. She remains pretty opaque from start to finish. 

Cathal, ever eccentric, is the best part of the book by far. I wish his house of weirdness was located in Ireland, too, as the London-suburb location here has nothing going for it. It could be anywhere, really, and the characters having Irishness in common while living in England doesn’t ultimately bring anything to the story.

I enjoyed reading this book. I did. But it’s a little forgettable. It’s as if Kidd was trying too hard for a more mainstream mystery plot and feel, when that’s not where her real strengths lie, and the result is a bit muddled.
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I loved the descriptions in this book of an old eccentric hoarder and the social worker charged with cleaning the house so he can stay in it. I highly enjoyed this book. It had a bit of mystery which I liked. 

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free e-copy of Mr. Flood’s Last Resort in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

There was no way I could have conscisely writen a synopsis for this book because it has so many things going on: a hoarder curmudgeon, a tinge of the paranormal, a care worker with baggage, a family member possibly trying to swindle the estate for personal gain and a cast of very unusual and loveable characters. It sounds overwhelming but it works! Mr. Flood’s Last Resort is a quirky tale with some very beautiful life lessons snuck in.

Cathal is the type of grumpy old man who is entertaining to hear stories about but that you know would drive you crazy if you knew him in real life.  Maude’s patience with the old man was endearing and the way they interacted with each other was natural and charming.  You could almost called this story a coming of age in reverse, as both Cathal and Maude find closure from their pasts as they work through the challenges of the present.

I am so glad I read this book, it was heart warming yet so funny that I was laughing out loud in many places.  If you’re looking for a literary pallet cleanser or just something to different this is the book for you. I rate it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 stars.
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"Maud Drennan is a dedicated caregiver whose sunny disposition masks a deep sadness. A tragic childhood event left her haunted, in the company of a cast of prattling saints who pop in and out of her life like tourists. Other than visiting her agoraphobic neighbor, Maud keeps to herself, finding solace in her work and in her humble existence–until she meets Mr. Flood.

Cathal Flood is a menace by all accounts. The lone occupant of a Gothic mansion crawling with feral cats, he has been waging war against his son’s attempts to put him into an old-age home and sent his last caretaker running for the madhouse. But Maud is this impossible man’s last chance: if she can help him get the house in order, he just might be able to stay. So the unlikely pair begins to cooperate, bonding over their shared love of Irish folktales and mutual dislike of Mr. Flood’s overbearing son.

Still, shadows are growing in the cluttered corners of the mansion, hinting at buried family secrets, and reminding Maud that she doesn’t really know this man at all. When the forgotten case of a missing schoolgirl comes to light, she starts poking around, and a full-steam search for answers begins. Packed with eccentric charms, twisted comedy, and a whole lot of heart, Mr. Flood’s Last Resort is a mesmerizing tale that examines the space between sin and sainthood, reminding us that often the most meaningful forgiveness that we can offer is to ourselves."

Can you tell I like anything slightly Gothic?
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Norma and I were lost in the heavy dense wooded coulee reading Mr Flood’s Last Resort with four of our Traveling Sisters and we were swept up in the mystery and magic of this story that explores grief and loss.  Jess Kidd does a good job bringing out some emotions here for us with the emotional depth that touches on grief and loss.  

Jess Kidd does a fantastic job creating well-developed enduring characters here with our main characters Cathal and Maud.  We really loved the dynamics between these two very different characters that really added some contrast to the story.  We loved the dynamics that the other colorful and eccentric characters brought to the story as well. 

What really stood out for us was Jess Kidd’s ability to blend a murder mystery set in a gothic mansion full of secrets and chaos with some black humor that adds some comic relief to the story.  

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Atria Books and Jess Kidd for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

This is Traveling Sisters GR Reading Group Review and it can be found posted on our themed book blog Two Sisters Lost In A Coulee Reading.
https://twosisterslostinacoulee.com
Coulee: a term applied rather loosely to different landforms, all of which refer to a kind of valley
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What an enjoyable novel! Jess Kidd weaves a great tale about a caregiver named Maude and Mr. Flood, a grouchy, grumpy hoarding man with lots to hide. He lives in a run-down mansion, and Maude is tasked with caring for him and cleaning up the home so the state won't take him away. Throw in the back story about Flood's son and wife, a missing child, a gay Tarot-reading neighbor, and you can see how the story quickly takes off idown entertaining, yet tender paths. Maude herself is haunted/comforted by saintly figures who silently help guide her way. On top of all that, there's mystery and attempted murder! What a fun read!
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4 Stars.

Fantastical, Magical, Wondrous & Whimsical.  It captures your heart and holds on tight.  

Cathal Flood is an angry, cantankerous, difficult old man who lives alone in Bridlemere, a dirty, disgusting old mansion, which houses lots of secrets, perhaps a few ghosts and several quirky cats too.  Maud Drennan has always lived a lonely sort of life.  Having lost her sister at a young age, grief has always been with her.  She is a special sort, seeing and hearing things that others don’t, including Saints, or Spirit Guides, as the case may be.  Maud is the carer who is assigned to Cathal Flood.  She is his last hope.  If she can’t control Cathal, his son Gabriel is planning to send him off to a home.  His less than sunny disposition is a more than bit scary for Maud - as are all of the noises and strange things she encounters at this old house, yet she can’t help but find Cathal and Bridlemere intriguing. 

When photographs from the past start popping up at Bridlemere, Maud finds herself deeply enveloped in old mysteries.. ones she just can’t help but want to solve, even though she is not a detective.  With the help of her friend Renata, Sam Hebden, Mr. Flood’s former carer and several spirit guides such as St. Dymphna and St. Valentine surrounding her, Maud takes off investigating.  She must do this - it is her calling.  

Magic ensues.  Whimsy abounds. Psychic elements mystify.  In “Mr. Flood’s Last Resort,” Hearts get broken along the way, mine included.  Tears fell.  More than once.  Cathal Flood is a man whose oddities endeared me when perhaps they should have scared me, at least a little.  Maud Drennan is quirky and surprisingly bold at times when you least expect. Renata is the dearest of friends - I wish she was one of mine.  

This is Jess Kidd’s second novel and she proves that she has the ability to write magical supernatural fantastical stories with characters like no other.  “Himself” Jess Kidd’s debut novel was one of my favorite reads of last year and while this one came close, it wasn’t quite as captivating.  Though this seems to simply be a quirky novel involving fantastical supernatural elements, it also involves serious storylines about grief and loss and deals with both in an enchanting and lovely way.  Having read both “Himself” and “Mr. Flood’s Last Resort,” I am now completely entranced by Jess Kidd and am eagerly awaiting her next novel. 

This was a Traveling Sister read which made for an incredibly interesting and informative discussion.  I loved reading this whimsical fantastical novel with my sisters.  It made this read even more amazing!  For full traveling sister group reviews, please see Norma and Brenda’s blog:  https://twosisterslostinacoulee.com


Thank you to Atria, NetGalley and Jess Kidd for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.  

Published on NetGalley, Goodreads, Twitter and Amazon on 6.3.18.
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Mr. Flood’s Last Resort is the first book I’ve read by Jess Kidd. She has a great imagination and lots of talent. The plot feels a bit like a rollicking romp with a bit of a mystery at its core. Maud is assigned to provide home assistance to a raging aging hoarder, Cathal Flood. Flood has some complicated family secrets that Maud unearths as she goes through his house. Maud has her own childhood secrets. Despite the topic, the tone of this book is not sad, but rather has a dark humorous edge. Top amongst my favourite aspect of the book are a couple of pesky angels who surface every now and then to debate what course Maud should follow. I also liked her agoraphobic neighbour who also offers Maud a steady supply of advice. Smart and original is my final verdict. I’ve heard good things about Kidd’s Himself, which I will definitely read some time soon. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
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Every so often I stumble across a jewel of a book, a wonderfully unexpected, serendipitous read. Such is the case with Jess Kidd's novel, Mr. Flood's Last Resort.

Mr. Flood is a cantankerous old man, living in his crumbling mansion Bridlemere, surrounded by his 'collections.' His son wants to put him in a home and Mr. Flood has one last chance to stay put - let a carer into the house to clean up the house - and him. That last resort is Maud Drennan.

That's just the starting point. There is so much happening in this novel - and it makes for an absolutely addicting read.

Maud has a tragedy in her past - one that only slowly comes to light as the book progresses. "You'll only cause bloody trouble. Like you did before." There's mystery in Cathal Flood's life as well. A mystery that the house itself seems to be revealing to Maud as she cleans. Maud also receives assistance from the various Saints that trail after her. Ones of course that only she can see and hear.

Kidd's characters are quirky and quickly endeared themselves to me. I adored Maud, but her agoraphobic neighbour Renata is a close second. Cathal Flood will have your emotions running the gamut.

Mr. Flood's Last Resort is infused with magical realism. I enjoy this story telling element and Kidd does it extremely well, with the Saints and the collapsing house that seems determined to put the past right. Irish fables and proverbs  add to that atmosphere. Kidd's prose are wonderful.

There's a mystery to be solved in Mr. Flood's last resort, but there's so much more to the tale. Forgiveness speaks loudly. Heartbreaking, heartwarming and so very, very good. (And that ending? Perfect - although I wished I knew more....) Absolutely recommended.
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4.5 stars!  This novel had the perfect mix of genres that I absolutely love to read!

MR. FLOOD’S LAST RESORT by JESS KIDD is a magical, clever, imaginative, and an absolutely wonderful novel that had me totally engaged, entertained, and interested throughout this entire book. 

JESS KIDD delivers a well-written and creative story here with an absolutely wonderful gothic mansion setting, quirky characters and an extremely mesmerizing storyline. I really enjoyed the magical realism and the Irish folktales that was seamlessly blended into the storyline.  

To sum it all up it was an interesting, charming, dark, comical, and an enjoyable read with a satisfying ending. Would recommend!

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Atria Books and Jess Kidd for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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Having finally finished “Mr. Flood's Last Resort” by Jess Kidd, I am happy to have had the chance for the preview; thank you Net Galley!
While I thoroughly enjoyed the quirky characters and dialogue between Renata and Maud and "Drennan" and Cathal in this story, I was ready to close this book the final time. The saints and dream scenes and flash back memories of Maud's childhood tragedy, seemed like filler for what could possibly have been a very interesting mystery novel without those diversions. Too many Saint Valentine picking his teeth and Pearl Strand moments for me to enjoy this story completely. I would definitely read another Jess Kidd novel although this wasn't a favorite. She has a great way of bringing her characters to life.
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I love it when I come across a book that is brilliantly bizarre and incredibly creative. It only took a few paragraphs for me to get completely engrossed in this story. I couldn't stop reading. 

Cathal Flood is 80+ years old and lives in a large, horrific house, Bridlemere. He's a hoarder....like the ones you see on reality television shows where people come in wearing protective clothing and face masks to shovel out years of junk, animal poop, and moldy horrors straight from hell. Maud Drennan is his latest caregiver. The last one ran out of the house, driven half mad by the place. Maud just does her job clearing a bit of the mess at a time, never caring about things like why there is a mug tree in the toilet or what brings someone to collect a 12-foot wall of National Geographic magazines. She tries hard to ignore Mr. Flood's curmudgeonly fits and rants. He's mean, but Maud and her assistance is his last chance. If she fails to clean up his house and help him live independently, his son Gabriel is going to put him in a care home. But there's something more going on. Maud isn't quite sure what it is....or if she cares. She starts finding strange things while cleaning....a photos with faces burnt off with a cigar that just seem to appear in random places, an abandoned caravan with the windows boarded up amid the junk in the yard, information in the old man's care plan about his dead wife. Weird, unusual things. But she really can't speak to the old man's madness....she sees saints. They appear everywhere, speak to her, follow her, and are a strange comfort for her. Her agoraphobic transsexual neighbor urges her to investigate, but Maud just wants to mind her own business. A crazy old man living among cat turds and piles of garbage is not something she wants to dig into too deeply. Or is she afraid she might learn something horrible? About him? About herself?

This book was SO good! I absolutely love a great story that's totally something new. I have never read a book that was in any way like this one. So weird.....and so mesmerizing at the same time. I loved Mr. Flood's stories, and the little bits of Maud's life revealed here and there. The suspense was wicked cool. Just an entertaining, strange little book....I was sorry when I reached the end and it was over! The characters are quirky and unusual. The pace was perfect. The suspense and wondering WTF was going on kept building until the end. 

No spoilers from me -- read the book! :) 

Just lovely! This book is my favorite of 2018 so far. 

This book was also published under the title The Hoarder. Jess Kidd is the author of one other book, Himself. After enjoying this book so much, I will definitely be reading her other book and any future ones! 

**I voluntarily read an advance readers copy of this book from Atria Books via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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This is a very interesting mystery about a girl's disappearance, a hoarder, and person who comes to work for him and it's very apparent from the outset that everything is DEFINITELY not what it appears to be.  I loved this one and it's just a fun story to get lost in.  It would be an interesting concept to develop into a movie as well.  It's a clever mix of magical realism and mystery that is worth taking a look at.  I look forward to more from this author.
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I was provided with a copy of this book for free, courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for my honest review. The following opinions are all my own.

I have made my love for Fredrik Backman's work abundantly clear to all of my friends, coworkers, students, fellow "bookstagrammers," and anyone else who even considers uttering the words "book" and "recommendations." That's why, when I read the synopsis of Mr. Flood's Last Resort by Jess Kidd and caught wind of comparisons to Backman's A Man Called Ove, I practically left burn marks on my mouse pad from racing to NetGalley to request an advance copy so quickly.

So friends, let me tell you how Mr. Flood's Last Resort is like A Man Called Ove.

Both books feature a cantankerous old man and a thirty-something woman who starts getting to know him.

That's it. Oh, and they are both captivating reads.

Okay. Now that's REALLY it.

Beyond those two similarities, the two books are nothing alike.

Mr. Flood's Last Resort is told from the perspective of a thirty-something woman named Maud who is employed as a home care worker. She has been assigned to Mr. Cathal Flood, a 6'9" hoarder who lives in a mansion and was so verbally (and ultimately physically as well) abusive toward his previous care worker that the worker had a nervous breakdown and had to seek treatment. Maud's calm demeanor and ability to brush off the verbal assaults directed toward her prove to be critical in her position with Mr. Flood, but when her best friend Renata starts pushing the theory that Mr. Flood's wife's deadly fall down the stairs was no accident, Maud finds herself in hot pursuit of answers from a man who refuses to share anything more than insults with her. 

Did I mention that Maud sees (and hears) a host of spirits of saints? Or that super creepy things happen in the house with no explanation other than ghostly spirits? Or that as the book progresses, readers discover that Maud has secrets of her own that she is unwilling to share?

When I first started reading Mr. Flood's Last Resort, while still in the mindset that Cathal Flood would be similar to Ove, I struggled a bit. If pitted against one another, Ove wouldn't even hold a candle to the bitterness or malice or crudeness of Cathal Flood, and when I tried to imagine my overwhelmingly negative feelings toward him shifting, to any degree, it seemed impossible. Once I let go of the running comparison in my head, however, and I embraced Cathal Flood as a mysterious, hateful, potential murderer, I found myself completely hooked.

Much like Maud develops an overwhelming need for answers to the mystery she uncovers, I found myself desperate for those answers myself. As a result, I finished Mr. Flood's Last Resort in two sittings, and my house could have been picked up in a tornado and set down in Oz without my noticing.

Jess Kidd's writing is a thing of beauty in itself. Not only does Kidd paint vivid pictures of the characters and the world inside the mansion, but she also shrouds everything with such a veil of mystery. Discovering bits and pieces of Maud's backstory through her dreams moves the book along at a nice pace after the slower pacing of the first few chapters, and I found myself wondering almost as much about what happened in her past as I did about what happened with the Flood family. Kidd also does an excellent job of crafting intriguing characters. Where Maud is even-keeled, Renata, her agoraphobic, transgender landlady/best friend, is dramatic. Where Maud is calm and respectful, Mr. Flood is eccentric and cruel. And Kidd has written all three of them in a way that I found myself invested in the full range of emotions they experience throughout the book.

The first few chapters admittedly move a tad slowly, and without revealing any spoilers, there was one particular plot twist that was fairly obvious to me from the get-go; however,I genuinely found myself guessing about what actually happened until the very end and literally did not put down the book for the last 75%.

This is a book for readers who enjoy a good mystery, with bonus points for those who love ghost stories and quirky characters.
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I did not like this book. There were places that it rambled and didn't make sense. Maybe some Anglophiles will enjoy it, but most of my patrons will not.
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Cathal Flood lives alone in a mansion filled to the rafters with the detritus of a long lifetime; many lifetimes, in fact. Irascible, cadaverous, and perhaps even dangerous, he had threatened his most recent visiting caregiver. The house is packed with grotesque curiosities, cats, garbage, and even a semi-tame fox. His son Gabriel has given him an ultimatum: get the place cleaned out or be put in a care home, forcibly if need be. Enter Maud Drennan, a psychic young woman with a stubborn streak a mile wide and a nose for mystery. Maud also has a group of patron saints who follow her around and a family mystery of her own. Her sidekick in the investigation is her agoraphobic transgender landlady, Renata. Of course, Renata can only join in from a distance. Mr. Flood's life has been tragic; the accidental death of his wife, the loss of a child, a missing girl, and a seemingly unaccountable animosity for his son. Maud doesn't like Gabriel much either. Maud's sister disappeared years before, and Maud's memories of the events surrounding the disappearance also play a part.

Mr. Flood's Last Resort is impossible to categorize, part mystery, traditional gothic, ghost story, and family history. Reading the novel is much like stepping into a brilliant kaleidoscope, continually shifting and changing. The writing and characterization are top notch. Maud's colorful landlady is particularly well-drawn and affecting. I haven't read a novel in a long time that captivated me to such a degree. Kidd's first novel, Himself, was a critical success. As I haven't read it yet, I can't make comparisons, a situation that I plan to remedy.

Many thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.
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This is a magical read that has a lovely little mystery story thrown in. The story of cranky Cathal Flood who is a hoarder of extraordinary dimensions. He scares every caretaker away who attempts to bring some kind of order to his life until he meets his match in Maud Drennan.  Maud is special because she has Saints drop in to give her advice and encouragement. With a sunny disposition and the help of Saints, how can she go wrong?

 Maud must get Mr. Flood's house in order so he can stay in it and eventually they start to work together. Along the way, she stumbles across the case of a missing schoolgirl and has a tragedy in her own background that keeps popping up.

  This is a difficult book to review because the style is so unique and the story unfolds so slowly like peeling layers in an onion. The reason I gave it four stars is that it is so slow in the beginning that I almost gave up on it. I am glad I stuck with it because it was worth the reward. One of the sweetest, unique books that I have read in awhile. Maud and her friend, Renata, a flamboyant transgender are some of the best written characters I have read in a long time. 

  Thanks to Net Galley for a copy in exchange for a fair review.
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I loved HIMSELF, author Jess Kidd’s first novel, and so was eager to read this, her second.  MR. FLOOD’S LAST RESORT is ambitious, at times hitting the mark set by her first book, while at other times I found myself wondering why I was reading it.  I was lost.  The writing itself is always impressive;  lovely and often luminous.  The plot and characters are frankly all over the place, if I told you they jumped off the page, out of the book and left the room entirely, it would be consistent with the storytelling.  It also would explain how I lost my moorings in this tale of a hoarder, the woman assigned to care for him, her housemate, a whole cast of imaginary characters and a few possible living ones.  I like the idea of the plot and the setting, especially well.  I just couldn’t seem to connect with the novel as a whole.
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