Life Class: The Selected Memoirs Of Diana Athill

Life Class: The Selected Memoirs
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Also, because the last of the memoirs published is the first in the collection, the quality and sharpness of the writing seems to drop away in the second and third memoirs simply because they're the work of a less experienced and confident writer.

Life Class | What's New | Granta Books

A very good read, though, and I'll probably go on to read Athill's After A Funeral after this introduction to her writing. Jan 12, Dilshat rated it it was amazing. Can't recommend enough - all four memoirs in this book are well written, sincere and give an overall rare impression of free and sound person. One memoir is about childhood Nancy Mitford style , another is about Athill's love life she was jilted by her fiancee, felt like a failure for a long time, but then found out how to become happy again , the third one about her work as an editor, and the last one - on being old.

Sometimes Athill repeats herself, but not much. Anyhow, this is the only downside I can find in this book! Aug 05, Diane rated it really liked it. Reading Athill is like meeting a delightful new friend. Whatever she is describing, she makes me feel as though I am right there with her.

I really like her take on so many things as well. To pick out just two examples, I love the way she explains her lifelong love of books, and her explanations about why she cannot believe in God, even though she is grateful to have been brought up by believers. Aug 12, Edward rated it really liked it. She'd be the first to admit she's been lucky, having all of her marbles as well as good health, and enjoys what she does in her 10th decade, mostly reading, and very important, acting on her creative impulses, writing being one of them.

In all of these, though, Athill is modest, matter-of-fact, and perceptive about her own shortcomings - enjoyable reading, every one. Dec 07, Margaret Chamberlain rated it really liked it. This was a pretty chunky book to start reading but I was fascinated by it. I decided to read it having heard the author Diana Athill talk on Radio 4 and read articles in the papers by her. I don't normally read this sort of thing but I'm glad I did.

About the author

It is a collection of memoirs ranging from the early childhood memoirs of Diana Athill up until very recent ones. She was 89 when she wrote it and tackled the subject of growing old in a very forthright and sensible way.

My mother is 89 and it has he This was a pretty chunky book to start reading but I was fascinated by it. My mother is 89 and it has helped me imagine what it is to be at that stage of life.

Diana Athill - 'At least I was not married to Vidiad' (53/77)

Diana Athill has led an extremely interesting life in publishing but it was probably the details of her personal life that were the most enlightening. I feel less pessimistic about the next 30 years now I have read this book! Oct 01, Chris rated it it was amazing. This collects some, but not all, of Diana Athill's memoirs. They are a tremendous read.

Yesterday Morning, dealing mainly with her childhood is fascinating for her perspective on inter-war upper-class life as well as for the insight into her own origins and personality. Instead of a Letter, covering her rejection by "Paul" and the long bleak period that followed can read a little bit datedly. Somewhere Towards the This collects some, but not all, of Diana Athill's memoirs. Somewhere Towards the End is her reflections from advanced old age.

Life Class the Selected Memoirs of Diana Athill

Oct 07, Agnes Adriana rated it liked it Shelves: It's a slow read with some observational gems of her own and others' behaviour and motivation. It's also at times a bit overindulgent and at others very honest, for example when she is frank about her 'war effort' not being motivated by wanting to 'do good' in just any job that was available. Still working away on finishing this book. Its slow at times and some chapters are definetly more interesting than others. Couldn't get into this at all so abandoned! Feb 20, Sue Batcheler rated it really liked it.

I keep dipping in and out of this. It's not compulsive reading but whenever I pick it up I really enjoy it. She feels like someone I would like to meet. April rated it really liked it Mar 05, Idiosyncratic rated it it was ok Mar 15, Sharen rated it it was amazing Jan 25, Ed rated it really liked it Jul 29, Stockfish rated it it was amazing Mar 17, Jennifer rated it it was amazing Sep 13, Katarina Bivald rated it it was amazing Mar 23, Martine rated it it was amazing Sep 09, Elizabeth King rated it really liked it Aug 25, Rachel rated it really liked it Nov 28, Katie Metcalfe rated it really liked it Feb 22, Middlethought rated it it was amazing Aug 06, Jeanette Forster rated it really liked it Dec 14, Lucy Hirst rated it it was amazing Nov 11, Josephine Gardiner rated it really liked it May 31, Stephen Morley rated it really liked it Apr 09, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

Diana Athill was born in Norfolk in and educated at home until she was fourteen. Stet is a memoir of Diana Athill's fifty-year career in publishing. She lives in Primrose Hill in London. Books by Diana Athill. See All Goodreads Deals…. But I absolutely adore doing it. Athill first started writing more than 50 years ago, a collection of stories, and then a memoir of her life up to the age of 42, Instead of a Letter.

That book was an act of self-therapy as much as anything. It recounted, in flinty detail, the humiliating stain that had clouded her privileged youth — daughter of an army colonel, large family estate in Norfolk — and that she had been unable to erase. She had been hopelessly in love from the age of 15 with an Oxford graduate named Tony Irvine, who came to tutor her brother. By the time she was at Oxford herself, and Irvine was a pilot in the RAF, they were engaged, but the marriage was never to be.

The war began, and Irvine, who had so lovingly set out the promises of their future together, abruptly stopped replying to Athill's letters. She heard nothing from him for two years, during which the pain was like "a finger crushed under the door, or a tooth under a drill", and then he wrote briefly, asking to be relieved of their engagement because he was marrying someone else. Soon after that, Irvine was killed in action.

Athill subsequently lost a part of herself, for 20 years, in emptiness and disastrous affairs, 20 years in which her "soul shrank to the size of a pea". It was only through writing about it all that she surfaced again properly, found her voice. But then, just as suddenly, she gave it up. She published her first, Stet , in which she told the story of her working life, nine years ago, and two more volumes — Yesterday Morning , mostly about her parents' unhappy marriage, and Somewhere Towards the End , about approaching 90 — have followed, to great and warranted acclaim.

Having spent a career nurturing the careers of other writers, Athill is now in the curious position of literary celebrity herself, which, to her surprise, she hugely enjoys. She is in hot demand on the festival circuit, where people say two things to her.

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The first, which baffles her, is that she is "such an inspiration". The other, without fail, and whispered is, "Do you mind my asking, how do you keep such wonderful skin? The morning I visit her she is suffering with a cold, and irritated that she has had to abandon plans to fly to Canada where she was due to share a platform with the writer Alice Munro. But I got up yesterday and I felt so weak I knew I had to say no. So I think it is coming. By "it" she means the end of book events and everything else, but she notes this, like she says everything, evenly and frankly and with an element of curiosity.

Her singularity, as the books attest, has been hard won, but she wears it now with some pride. Her memory is her accomplishment; lapses make her anxious. She talks of a recent trip "up north to Wigton with a gang of young people" from her publisher, Granta.

I tried to remember "The Captain Bold from Halifax". And I couldn't get it right. But then I woke up the next morning and the whole thing was in my head. It's funny what stays with us. As she is singing, I can't help feeling that Athill's own life has something of the texture of a barrack-room ballad, though she has avoided the darkest fates. Reading her memoirs in one volume is to have a sense of life as pain mitigated by time. There is a sense of wicked humour in many of her recollections, occasional bright flashes of possibility, an exhilarating sharpness to her voice, but it is the hurt, and her resilience in the face of it, that remains with you.

Athill has applied to herself one or two times Graham Greene's observation that all writers need a "chip of ice" at their heart.

Life Class

The question that her books never answer, quite, is whether that ice was something she was born with or learned. She calls it her beady eye. The first thing her beady eye fell on was her parents, whose relationship informed all that followed. As well as being a portrait of a life in letters, Athill's writing is a careful unpicking of the emotional strictures of a particular class at a particular time. Her mother had been undone by an affair not long after she married, torn up with guilt, which she buried.

She told her daughter about it the day after her husband, Athill's father, died, though Athill had found out long before. You have no idea how that affects children. When I was a little girl I had poor health, lots of stomach problems; later my grandmother said to me, 'You were a poorly little girl; it all made you so upset.

You were always waiting as a child for the next time that things would blow up. Children find that unbearable to cope with.

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Her writing is excellent and it is a pleasure to read the story of a life so interesting and unusual. Not another word was spoken about Athill's intimate life after that evening. Talking to her, reading her books, you get the sense that Athill measured much of her life against that maternal briskness. However, Athill was luckier than me because she actually liked her job ; And then I was driving her home, so I thought I would do it then. They are a tremendous read. Based on that experience I borrowed this omnibus edition from my Library.

My mother was completely innocent when she got married. She was a normal, sexy, healthy girl but when a young man kissed her at a dance she thought she must marry him. But then it pretty quickly became clear I suppose that they weren't in the least compatible sexually.

Life Class: The Selected Memoirs of Diana Athill [Diana Athill] on * FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. 'There is a sense throughout Athill's works that you are making a new friend as much as reading a new story' Observer 'What sets her apart is the flagrancy and.

I have a feeling my father was a pretty hopeless lover, a parson's son. It is sad to think about, all those years together. Her father wrote well, an elegant account for the Royal Geographical Society of a journey he took to Abyssinia. Her mother was a wonderful gardener, very good with animals and believed poetry to be a lot of nonsense. Talking to her, reading her books, you get the sense that Athill measured much of her life against that maternal briskness. Athill's own candidness did not come easily as a result, and it was always an act of defiance.

Her mother was still very much alive when she published Instead of a Letter , a book which catalogued Athill's own promiscuity and an abortion. How did she react? I sent that edition to her. And I heard nothing at all.