Somewhere Towards the End

Somewhere Towards the End

3.68 (1,376 ratings by Goodreads)
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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 more

Product details

  • Paperback | 182 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 14mm | 160g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1847080693
  • 9781847080691
  • 46,363

Review quote

Guardian, The Times, Daily Mail, New Statesman, Observershow more

About Diana Athill

Diana Athill was born in 1917. She worked for the BBC throughout the Second World War and then helped Andre Deutsch establish the publishing company that bore his name. Athill's distinguished career as an editor is the subject of her accalaimed memoir Stet which is 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 more

Review Text

Now 91, one of England's notable book editors examines life, old age and approaching death with astonishing candor in 16 essays distinguished by her spare, direct prose.Athill (Yesterday Morning, 2002, etc.) does not shy away from uncomfortable subjects: the waning of sexual desire, her qualms about the physical act of dying and her atheism, which deprives her of a comforting belief in the hereafter. Although she knows that death cannot be far off, the present is full of quiet satisfactions. The tiny tree fern that she purchases in the opening essay will not provide shade for her backyard garden in her lifetime, but watching it unfurl its fronds becomes an unexpected and genuine pleasure. Athill vividly describes corpses she has seen and deaths she has witnessed, taking some comfort from the knowledge that among her close relatives the end has been relatively swift and peaceful. Having no children to care for her at the end of her life, she notes sadly but calmly that she will likely end her days in an impersonal institution. With no afterlife to look forward to, the present becomes more precious; hers is filled with reading, writing and reviewing books, gardening, drawing, pottering about and, surprisingly, driving her car. After a highway accident in which only the car was damaged, her love of the freedom provided by driving kept her behind the wheel. Erotic desire may have vanished, but Athill remembers it clearly and is quite candid about relationships with past lovers. Kindness and loving friendship are more important than sexual fidelity, she asserts, demonstrating this with brief anecdotes of her affairs. At the time of writing, she has reluctantly but dutifully become caretaker for a man she has lived with for nearly half a century. Their life now, she writes matter-of-factly, is "in about equal parts, both sad and boring."Fiercely intelligent, discomfortingly honest and never dull. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

1,376 ratings
3.68 out of 5 stars
5 23% (315)
4 37% (513)
3 28% (388)
2 8% (116)
1 3% (44)
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