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Somewhere Towards the End
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New or Used: $6.64
Diana Athill made her reputation as a writer with the candour of her memoirs, now aged ninety, and freed from any inhibitions that even she may once have had, she reflects frankly on the losses and occasionally the gains that old age brings, and on the wisdom and fortitude required to face death. This is a lively narrative of events, lovers and friendships: the people and experiences that have taught her to regret very little, to resist despondency and to question the beliefs and customs of her own generation.
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When it comes to facing old age, writes Athill, "there are no lessons to be learnt, no discoveries to be made, no solutions to offer." As the acclaimed British memoirist (who wrote about her experiences as a book editor in Stet) pushes past 90, she realizes that "there is not much on record on falling away" and resolves to set down some of her observations. She is bluntly unconcerned with conventional wisdom, unapologetically recounting her extended role as "the Other Woman" in her companion's prior marriage--then explaining how he didn't move in with her until after they'd stopped having sex, which is why it was no big deal for her to invite his next mistress to move in with them to save expenses. She is equally frank in discussing how, as their life turns "sad and boring," she copes with his declining health, just as she cared for her mother in her final years. Firmly resolute that no afterlife awaits her, Athill finds just enough optimism in this world to keep her reflections from slipping into morbidity--she may not offer much comfort, but it's a bracing read. (Jan.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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About the Author

Diana Athill was born in 1917. She worked for the BBC during the Second World War and helped Andre Deutsch establish the publishing company that bore his name. Athill's distinguished career as an editor is the subject of her acclaimed memoir Stet, also published by Granta, as are four volumes of memoirs - Instead of a Letter, After a Funeral, Yesterday Morning, Make Believe - and a novel, Don't Look at Me Like That.

Reviews

When it comes to facing old age, writes Athill, "there are no lessons to be learnt, no discoveries to be made, no solutions to offer." As the acclaimed British memoirist (who wrote about her experiences as a book editor in Stet) pushes past 90, she realizes that "there is not much on record on falling away" and resolves to set down some of her observations. She is bluntly unconcerned with conventional wisdom, unapologetically recounting her extended role as "the Other Woman" in her companion's prior marriage--then explaining how he didn't move in with her until after they'd stopped having sex, which is why it was no big deal for her to invite his next mistress to move in with them to save expenses. She is equally frank in discussing how, as their life turns "sad and boring," she copes with his declining health, just as she cared for her mother in her final years. Firmly resolute that no afterlife awaits her, Athill finds just enough optimism in this world to keep her reflections from slipping into morbidity--she may not offer much comfort, but it's a bracing read. (Jan.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Guardian, The Times, Daily Mail, New Statesman, Observer

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