The Animals in Their Elements


165 pages
ISBN 0-88922-249-5
DDC C813'





RoseMarie Spearpoint was a librarian with Toronto Public Libraries, and was responsible for children's French selection.


Cynthia Flood writes poignantly and perceptively with an eye to social issues and interpersonal relationships. The Animals in Their Elements, her first collection of short stories, covers a number of subjects which arise from an impressionable incident, a memorable event, or a significant individual. Points of view vary from that of an eight-year-old girl, too frightened to attend school without her pen, to that of a middle-aged woman in prenatal classes, and of an elderly, dying woman. In “Summer’s lease” a woman goes to Toronto to settle her dead mother’s affairs, while in “Tabletalk” a young woman discloses a case of childhood abuse. “Beatrice” is an aunt who inherits the upbringing of her fourteen-year-old British nephew. She stands out as a woman with strong political convictions who lives in Toronto in the 1960s. Interspersed with footnotes, “A young girl-typist ran to Smolny; Notes for a film” is a unique political tale.

Themes of friendship, aging and coming of age are underlying; but more prevalent is the sense of loss or lack of connectedness between people. As a result, these stories touch a sorrowful chord. Because characters are weighed down by their earthly concerns, one is left wondering, “Where is the joy in life?”


Flood, Cynthia, “The Animals in Their Elements,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 28, 2024,