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Alive, Alive Oh!: And Other Things That Matter

de Diana Athill

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18212149,557 (4.06)7
"A luminous, wise, and joyful insight into what really matters at the end of a long life, from the beloved author of the award-winning Somewhere Towards the End. What will you remember if you live to be 100? Diana Athill charmed readers with her prize-winning memoir Somewhere Towards the End, which transformed her into an unexpected literary star. Now, on the eve of her ninety-eighth birthday, Athill has written a sequel every bit as unsentimental, candid, and beguiling as her most beloved work. Writing from her cozy room in Highgate, London, Diana begins to reflect on the things that matter after a lifetime of remarkable experiences, and the memories that have risen to the surface and sustain her in her very old age. 'My two valuable lessons are: avoid romanticism and abhor possessiveness,' she writes. In warm, engaging prose she describes the bucolic pleasures of her grandmother's garden and the wonders of traveling as a young woman in Europe after the end of the Second World War. As her vivid, textured memories range across the decades, she relates with unflinching candor her harrowing experience as an expectant mother in her forties and crafts unforgettable portraits of friends, writers, and lovers. A pure joy to read, Alive, Alive Oh! sparkles with wise and often very funny reflections on the condition of being old. Athill reminds us of the joy and richness of every stage of life--and what it means to live life fully, without regrets" --… (mais)
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I have enjoyed all of Diana Athill's books and hope she will publish her correspondence with Jean Rhys. This book is more of a hodge-podge than the others, but if you're still writing lively, honest prose at age 100, who cares? ( )
  fmclellan | Jan 23, 2024 |
I wanted to read this memoir...book of essays...by a 98?-yo because I love memoirs and because I live with a 94-yo. lol

Unfortunately, it was just ok for me. The writing was fine, I just wasn't that interested in what she talked about in the book.

Because she IS a great writer, I want to try some of her other books. ( )
  Jinjer | Aug 12, 2022 |
Brilliant - honest and fascinating. Memoir written as a series of essays
  MiriamL | Jun 29, 2021 |
I enjoy Diana a lot. ( )
  mahallett | May 15, 2020 |
This is a book of essays written by a 95 year-old English woman. I couldn't quite get into some of these and i guess it was a little shocking to me to hear her talk of her lovers and her past abortions. When she is pregnant again, (by her married lover!) she decides to keep the baby but she does suffer a miscarriage in a strange twist of fate just soon after she decides to carry this baby to term. The miscarriage itself comes close to killing her due to bleeding. Since my own mother is 95, it was interesting to read about how she fit into the retirement home that she chose. But overall, not a great read for me. ( )
  LilQuebe | Sep 30, 2019 |
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'Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits': I have forgotten who it is who is supposed to have said that, but it is a good description of a state quite often observed in a retirement home, and considered pitiable.
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Only three of us turned up [to plant six roses].... No one was there but nearly blind Vera, aged 94, Pamela, also 94, and me, three weeks before my 97th birthday ... Pamela got down on her knees - squelch, squelch in that sodden clay - to spread out the rose's roots at the bottom of the hole. I then did the sprinkling of nourishing rose food, Vera did the tipping of compost out of a bucket, and Vera and I jointly scraped clay back into the hole before hoisting Pamela to her feet ... so that she could tread the plant in.... She said, "Well, we've done that one so we might as well do another". AND WE ENDED BY DOING ALL SIX.... One good thing about being physically incapable of doing almost anything is that if you do manage to do even a little something, you feel great.
To start with I could potter about in the garden, and even plant things, provided I didn't offend the gardeners. I gathered that the place had been a jungle until the Guild had found them, man and wife, an incredibly hard-working pair who come only once a week and somehow manage to keep the place spick and span. Given the chance, I fear I would have offended them, because their passion for tidiness makes them too severe with shrubs, which they chop ruthlessly into square or doughnut shapes regardless of their nature, which deeply offends me, and also the other ex-gardeners among the residents.
One good thing about being physically incapable of doing almost anything is that if you manage to do even a little something, you feel great.
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"A luminous, wise, and joyful insight into what really matters at the end of a long life, from the beloved author of the award-winning Somewhere Towards the End. What will you remember if you live to be 100? Diana Athill charmed readers with her prize-winning memoir Somewhere Towards the End, which transformed her into an unexpected literary star. Now, on the eve of her ninety-eighth birthday, Athill has written a sequel every bit as unsentimental, candid, and beguiling as her most beloved work. Writing from her cozy room in Highgate, London, Diana begins to reflect on the things that matter after a lifetime of remarkable experiences, and the memories that have risen to the surface and sustain her in her very old age. 'My two valuable lessons are: avoid romanticism and abhor possessiveness,' she writes. In warm, engaging prose she describes the bucolic pleasures of her grandmother's garden and the wonders of traveling as a young woman in Europe after the end of the Second World War. As her vivid, textured memories range across the decades, she relates with unflinching candor her harrowing experience as an expectant mother in her forties and crafts unforgettable portraits of friends, writers, and lovers. A pure joy to read, Alive, Alive Oh! sparkles with wise and often very funny reflections on the condition of being old. Athill reminds us of the joy and richness of every stage of life--and what it means to live life fully, without regrets" --

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