Alive, Alive Oh!: And Other Things That Matter (Paperback)
“An invitation to sit a spell with an intractable and witty friend.” —New York Times Book Review
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.
About the Author
After a distinguished career as a book editor, Diana Athill (1917—2019) won the National Book Critics Circle and Costa Biography Awards for her New York Times best-selling memoir Somewhere Towards the End. In January 2009, she was presented with an Order of the British Empire.
Like Athill’s favorite paintings, her essays ‘make you see, when you leave their presence, that everything has become more alive.'
— Laura Miller - Salon
Witty, candid…If you haven’t read Athill, and open her latest book expecting serene reflections from a nonagenarian sipping tea in her garden, you’re in for a surprise.
— Carmela Ciuraru - San Francisco Chronicle
Enchanting…Diana Athill, 98, still has a few things to teach us about growing old with dignity and humor and grace…Astute and sparkling.
— Ann Levin - Associated Press
So beautifully written and exquisitely detailed…[Athill] mines her memories of a life well-lived and generously lays them out on the page for the rest of the world to enjoy.
— Meganne Fabrega - Star Tribune
Moving and always engaging…The sheer candour with which she writes and the overwhelming sense of a life fully lived are both quite marvelous.
— The Bookseller