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Flood Warning (Puffin Books) Paperback – 24 Feb 1972

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; New impression edition (24 Feb. 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140302786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140302783
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,411,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This old puffin book, written for age ten upwards but gripping reading for an adult, describes what happens when the banks of a tributary of the Loire overflow and the massed flood waters are trapped by the high flood banks of the Loire itself. A school of fifty pupils is first surrounded by water then completely overwhelmed, and this is the very human story of the making of defences, the overwhelming of those defences, and the successful struggle of the school together for survival. It is a study in personality, the kinds of decisions individuals and groups make, and the individual qualities that come out in a crisis.

It is so vividly described that it is difficult to believe that Berna did not experience it - but he was born elsewhere in France, and perhaps he was drawing on the great floods that affected Angers in 1936 - when he would have been 28. He describes canoeing down one of Angers' main streets in the fog - and the Pathé news reel of the time shows what it would have been like.
Three of our protagonists are trapped in the top floor of the old mill - where the miller survived in similar floods in 1820 - while every single other school building is completely submerged. The rest of the school, staff and pupils, are wet and helpless in the open air - refugees on the nearest high ground, the woods. This flood, though, is modern - finally helicopters come to the rescue in their dozens from all parts of France.

The novel opens with its message - in a geography lesson - "major natural disasters will always overwhelm mankind by their very unexpectedness or their very scale, so quickly does each fresh generation forget and so shortsighted it is."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'The wind had risen again, gustily and noisily, as the sky grew even darker in the west...soon there was no road...The waters of the Loire were pouring down in a tidal wave which fanned out in foam and a whirl of wreckage.' p 84-85

'Flood Warning' was purchased because it was one of the two books by Paul Berna I'd read as a child. Partly prompted by the endless rain we have experienced for over a year now, I purchased another copy... and I am so glad I did!

The reader is introduced to the small world of Chateau Milon - a sleepy boarding school inhabited by public school boys and their school masters. When the Loire, bursts its banks, creating a seemingly unstoppable flood, Chateau-Milon is cut off from the outside world. With flood waters continuing to rise relentlessly, the best and worst is brought out in pupils and adults. Eventually it is Monsieur Sala the ineffectual school master and the detached, disdainful pupil the Vicomte Hubert who become the unlikely heroes of the story.

Set in the 1950s, within beautifully etched landscapes, dramatically altered by the onslaught of torrential storms and rain; and with its skilfully crafted, rounded characters, this book is a pleasure to read and re read. Thoroughly recommended.
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