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A Very Easy Death

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  4,172 ratings  ·  415 reviews
A Very Easy Death has long been considered one of Simone de Beauvoir’s masterpieces. The profoundly moving, day-by-day recounting of her mother’s death “shows the power of compassion when it is allied with acute intelligence” (The Sunday Telegraph).
 
Powerful, touching, and sometimes shocking, this is an end-of-life account that no reader is ever likely to forget.
Paperback, Pantheon Modern Writers Series, 112 pages
Published February 12th 1985 by Pantheon (first published October 16th 1964)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,172 ratings  ·  415 reviews


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Clumsy Storyteller
We might still have come to an understanding if instead of asking everybody to pray for my soul she had given me a little confidence and sympathy. ...

When someone you love dies you pay for the sin of outliving her with a thousand piercing regrets.


One of my favorite reads of 2018.
Ellen
Nov 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
I encountered A Very Easy Death twice before actually reading it. The two encounters amounted to radically different readings of the same text. My first encounter with A Very Easy Death was not exactly a reading but an abridgment of the book that appeared in an anthology entitled Mothers: Memories, Dreams and Reflections by Literary Daughters edited by Susan Cahill.

The collection aims to present an array of well-known women writers’ memories of their mothers depicted in “positive tones and vivi
...more
Leonard
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite, memoir
In A Very Easy Death, Simone De Beauvoir said, “She (her mother) had a very easy death; an upper class death.” But it wasn’t an easy death. In this frank account of her mother’s struggle with intestinal cancer, Beauvoir not only reveals the struggle to release our loved ones but also the lies that we sometime perpetrate to spare them of suffering. The process of dying was gruesome, even for her mother, who wanted to keep a stiff upper lip. Worse were the doctors whose only goal was to keep the p ...more
Sunny
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This should be compulsory reading for anyone that has suffered from or has a family member that suffers from or has suffered from cancer in the past; ipso facto it should be compulsory reading for practically everyone. The short book is a real life account of the last 30 days of Simone De B’s mother and how she died of stomach cancer – intestinal cancer to be precise. The book was really really moving in places and yet the way Simone writes has a magic about it even in this morbid topic of death ...more
Gretchen Rubin
Brief, poignant account of her mother's death.
Leonard
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
In A Very Easy Death, Simone De Beauvoir said, “She (her mother) had a very easy death; an upper class death.” But it wasn’t an easy death. In this frank account of her mother’s struggle with intestinal cancer, Beauvoir not only reveals the struggle to release our loved ones but also the lies that we sometime perpetrate to spare them of suffering. The process of dying was gruesome, even for her mother, who wanted to keep a stiff upper lip. Worse were the doctors whose only goal was to keep the p ...more
Judy
Have you ever spent the last days of your mother's life by her side? I have. This memoir of that experience by my much read and much admired Simone de Beauvoir hit me hard but not unpleasantly.

In the first volume of de Beauvoir's memoirs, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, written when she was in her forties, covered the first 23 years of her life. Her experiences and insights helped me understand my relationship with my mother. We both fought against our mothers' protective and restraining method
...more
Sarah
Feb 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this last year, and it was the first piece of literature that got me interested in existentialist fiction (I'm not an existentialist, but I love their literature).

The book is about De Beauvoir trying to cope with her mother's death. De Beauvoir's feelings are ambivalent about the death of her mother.

Throughout the book, the doctors try to console the De Beauvoir sisters, and the doctors deal with the slow death of their mother in a very rational manner. (They've put her in a comfortable
...more
Efsun Ecem
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
An excellent way to remember Mlle de Beauvoir’s precision as well as how an excellent psychologist she is. For my part, having read her works has so far ameliorated, altered and at times recuperated my womanhood, adolescence and, inarguably, my relationship with selves. Now, with this book, she happens to have contributed to the relationship with my mother, to my understanding of it, and a great deal as well.

*sighs*

Seriously, Simone, I don’t know where this is going. It started to feel as if m
...more
Stephen Durrant
May 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in French: "Une morte très douce." That means I chewed it over a bit more than I would have in English, since I still read French rather slowly. It is a brilliant book, and I want to reread it in English to see if the English translation would be suitable to pair with something like Phillip Roth's account of the death of his father ("Patrimony") in a class on death and dying. Simone de Beauvoir had a troubled relationship with her mother, but she was at her mother's side for the ...more
tee
Jan 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own, memoirs
I would love to read this book in it's original French but that aside, it was still a ... well, it sounds morbid and inappropriate to describe it as an enjoyable read - but it was, in a way. It was short, which I thought was a blessing - any longer and it would have become harrowing and tedious. De Beauvoir's writing is beautiful (though surely missing a lot of it's beauty having been translated), she conveys her emotions and thoughts so fluidly, it almost feels as though you are right there wit ...more
Xheneta
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
“The misfortune is that although everyone must come to [death], each experiences the adventure in solitude. We never left Maman during those last days... and yet we were profoundly separated from her.”
Amra Pajalic
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A memoir about losing her mother. I could relate to the sense of disbelief and loss.
Khulud Khamis
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An important contemplation on death and mother-daughter relationships

When you face grief following the loss of a loved one, and you are a lifelong reader, you turn to literature. You seek books about grief, memoirs by writers who have been through it and documented this agony and pain. You discover a whole new world you knew nothing about. In this short piece, the legendary Simone del Beauvoir documents the short period of her mother's hospitalisation following a fall, the subsequent discovery o
...more
K.D. Absolutely
May 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
I had the feeling that this book was written by Simone de Beauvoir just for the sake of coming up with a book out for her mother's death. I found nothing special about the whole event; something that was remarkable, touching or heartwarming at least. I have also experienced losing a parent and sure it was one of the life experiences that I will always remember and I am sure it was the same case with Ms. Beauvoir. However, had I also been a writer, I would think twice about recording a personal e ...more
Thura
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
The title, a very easy death, I interpreted as more of a question, or maybe even a cynical remark. In this book Simone de Beauvoir describes her mothers illness, cancer, and death, day by day, in an almost raw honest form. When she's died, the nurse calls it an easy death, but both Simone and her sister keep fighting doctors throughout the book to keep their mothers suffering to a minimum.
This book is an almost analytic description, but by no means cold. It shows a daughters ambivalent feelings
...more
Cansu
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hüngür hüngür.
Dorrit
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I just went straight from 1 to 112.
Tim Pendry
The relationship between Simone De Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre (and the latter’s various lovers) is the stuff of philosophical soap opera. All great soap operas have to deal eventually with the death of a leading character – in this particular case, it is De Beauvoir’s mother.

This is a very well written account of the death of an aged person under relatively comfortable circumstances. It is ‘a very easy death’, a phrase written with irony as we think of the conditions of the majority then and
...more
Amy Layton
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For all fictitious books that I've read and felt my life was eerily similar to, there've been even fewer non-fiction books that I've felt the same way about.  But A Very Easy Death catapulted me back two years ago, when there was so much suffering in a hospital bed that I was all too privy to.  

Simone de Beauvoir raises the same questions that I did those two years ago.  When do you stop viewing your loved ones as living and more as a corpse?  When does their suffering outweigh their living?  Ca
...more
Toke
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"A Very Easy Death" by De Beauvoir is an insightful short book about her mother getting cancer in her 70s and her subsequent death. We get to see the impact--especially on herself, her mother and to a lesser degree her sister--during the the hospital period before the mother dies. This narrative is juxtaposed with De Beavoir's reflections on her mother and daughter relationship, in the light of her childhood etc., up until the present time of the narrative. And on the other hand also reflections ...more
Al Maki
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: life-story
In 1964 at the age of 79, de Beauvoir's mother broke her hip and while in hospital she was found to have an advanced intestinal cancer. She died in hospital within the month. This short book, 106 pages, is de Beauvoir's account of her dying and reflections on her life, in particular her life within her family. It's a clear and candid report both of dying and the feelings of the family at the event. It's also an account of the dishonesty and sexism of French bourgeois life of the time by one of i ...more
Phil
Mar 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Il n’y a pas de mort naturelle,” writes Simone de Beauvoir: “There is no such thing as a natural death”. “All men are mortal, but for each man, his own death is an accident and, even if he is aware of it and consents to it, an undue violence” (p. 123-124). First published in 1964, Une mort très douce chronicles the last days of her mother, Françoise de Beauvoir, who passed away just one year earlier. Part memoir or journal and part notebook for her treatise La vieillesse, which would be publish ...more
Lisa
Feb 25, 2020 added it
This is the only book of the author's that I have read and it can certainly stand alone, but there are so many references to her relationships with the rest of her family, which she's written about.
Anyway, this book feels very matter-of-fact in relaying the facts of her mother's death. It's interesting to see how little has changed in certain parts of this process. I'm not sure I captured the profundity of this work.
Ci
Dec 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-read-books
This is the first time I read Simone de Beauvoir, currently in English translation.

The essay starts with a broken femur bone of her aged mother and ends with her death from cancer. Three strands of narrative and meditation interweave one and other.

The first is the physical decline and dying in the hands of aggressive medical care. “Don’t let them operate on her!” a patient warned Simone. Yet the machinery is fast in moving the aged woman into its conveyance of testings, operations, tubes and n
...more
Everett Darling
May 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
Not just about the death of her Maman, but about her own death, which I imagine must have been as cathartic-if not anxiety inducing-to get off her chest as it was for me to read it. Title-wise, A Very Easy Death is a bit ironic since no death is easy, and unjustifiably unfair! but she´s also sincere, as de Beauvoir imagines slow and torturous deaths, which her mother didn´t really suffer through. But it´s honest and it comes from the heart as much as from the head and makes a worthy read for peo ...more
Liv
Why I just gave 2 Stars?
Because it says that 2 Stars are an ok Book and this was IMHO an OK book. I would have never picked it myself but a friend of mine recommended and lent it to me. I just knew it’s a real story written from a daughter about her mothers dying days.

I didn’t like the writing style at all and struggled through the first half of the book because I didn’t want to give up on it. I got used to the writing and found myself liking the book better in the second half though I was still
...more
Gisela Hafezparast
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent description of Simon de Beavoir's mother's last days and death. As always, Simone de Beauvoir writes very honestly and generously of what you know from her other books, was an incredible difficult time for her. Unsurprisingly she had a difficult relationship with her mother and this book shows how important this period of her mother's dying was for both of them.

As you get older and your loved ones get older, you can't but help thinking about death and dying and this is a good example o
...more
Sarah
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
I was expecting more from this. I first read it in college, but didn't remember much about it. Found it again when my mom was dying and set it aside to read when I felt ready. I was surprised that I wasn't more moved by it, other than the final chapter, which was the highlight of the book by far.
Trevor
Jul 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
One of the things that I learnt from this book was that if I wanted to go to Paris and didn't want to meet any French people, the best time to go would be August.

I'm just glad that I read this book before my mother dies.
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Simone de Beauvoir was a French author and philosopher. She wrote novels, monographs on philosophy, political and social issues, essays, biographies, and an autobiography. She is now best known for her metaphysical novels, including "She Came to Stay" and "The Mandarins", and for her 1949 treatise "The Second Sex", a detailed analysis of women's oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary ...more

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“The misfortune is that although everyone must come to [death], each experiences the adventure in solitude. We never left Maman during those last days... and yet we were profoundly separated from her.” 23 likes
“There is no such thing as a natural death: nothing that happens to a man is ever natural, since his presence calls the world into question. All men must die: but for every man his death is an accident and, even if he knows it and consents to it, an unjustifiable violation.” 14 likes
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