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Alive, Alive Oh!: And Other Things That Matter

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  677 ratings  ·  150 reviews
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
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Paperback, 176 pages
Published January 3rd 2017 by W. W. Norton Company (first published January 4th 2016)
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3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  677 ratings  ·  150 reviews


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Petra Eggs
Athill is nearly a 100 years old, she's sharp, funny and as she says of making friends in old age, you make friends not on what you are doing, or on what you might do together, but on stories. And here she shares stories of her life. And life now for her in an old-age home, which she loves. No more housework or grocery shopping and lots of friends!

The saddest story in the book if of the miscarriage when she was 43 of her only child. It is quite harrowing to read as she nearly died, but the endin
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Diane S ☔
Please, please let me be like this wonderful woman when I am 98. Let me remember things with the descriptive qualities and clarity as she does. Her grandmother's garden described beautifully, post war conditions and trips she took. Expecting her first child, feelings about being pregnant and so much more all described in incredible details. Amazing, so please, please.
Caroline
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This my third Diana Athill book - all of them written when she was over eighty - in fact she was ninety-six when she wrote this one. And what a joyous, invigorating, sharp and enchanting read it is..... It consists of a series of essays on different aspects and periods of her life. She is such an original and sassy human being, and she shines a brilliant light on all sorts of different things, in a way that must surely resonate with everyone. I wish I was drinking champagne rather than coffee - ...more
Rebecca
Update: Last night I was lucky enough to see 98-year-old literary legend Diana Athill live in London. Here’s my blog write-up of the event. (Psssssst! I have the dirt on a forthcoming publication – and here I thought this would be her last book for sure.)

Apart from “Dead Right,” this collection is not primarily concerned with imminent death. Athill is still grateful to be alive, marvelling at a lifetime of good luck and health and taking joy in gardening, clothing, books, memories and friendship
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Diane Barnes
Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent! IF I make it to the age of 98, this lady is my role model. She lived life by her own rules, made the decision to go into a retirement home at 93 so as not to be a burden to friends and relatives, and still lives the way she chooses, limited only by her body. Still writing, still sharp, no regrets.
Julie
I have no idea in the world how I came to read this book: it must have jumped into my book bag at the library for I have no recollection of wanting it, let alone getting it. Hmmm. It seems that Athill is sharper at 100 than I am at my age!

It was an enjoyable, quick read. Humorous, sad, charming. A life well lived and someone to spin a good tale out of it.

Bettie☯
BOTW

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06r4byz

Description: Stephanie Cole reads from the new collection of essays by acclaimed writer Diana Athill, which is being published to mark the author's 98th birthday later on this month.

Written from the vantage point of her late nineties, Athill's essays are wise, cheering and thought-provoking. They range from gentle (her love of beautiful clothes), heartbreaking (the miscarriage of a much-wanted child) to salutary (her difficult decision to relinquish he
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Sarah
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
This was a thoroughly enjoyable book of memoir essays written by literary giant Diana Athill. Athill is now 98 years old and lives in a retirement home in Highgate, London. The essays covered a surprising variety of topics, everything from her childhood memories, post-war Britain, colonialism, miscarriage and abortion, and of course, aging and death.

I wasn't sure what to expect of it when I picked it up. It came recommended to me, but I'd never read any of Athill's books before. I am, however, a
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Laura
Dec 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:
Stephanie Cole reads from the new collection of essays by acclaimed writer Diana Athill, which is being published to mark the author's 98th birthday later on this month.

Written from the vantage point of her late nineties, Athill's essays are wise, cheering and thought-provoking. They range from gentle (her love of beautiful clothes), heartbreaking (the miscarriage of a much-wanted child) to salutary (her difficult decision to relinquish her independence and mo
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Amanda Brookfield
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Diana Athill was born in 1917. This means, she is at least (I don't know her actual birthday) 98 years old. And she is still writing books!!! Not just okay-ish books, but excellent ones, filled with warmth and wisdom and a directness of tone that makes me sit up and listen, no matter what she is talking about.

'Alive, Alive Oh!' is the latest product from this remarkable woman, an addition to the archive of wonderful memoirs that began with 'Stet', written after an acclaimed career as an editor
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Jane
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. The writer, Diana Athill, is 99 years old, and she writes like a thirty year old---that kind of clarity and beauty and spark. Her subjects aren't always young people's subjects, but oh, I'd love to visit her and discover her secrets. How does she know how to nail racism and classism as she describes a trip as a tourist to Trinidad and Tobago? Who in her class and generation understood this? Over and over I was dazzled by her brilliance as a writer and a human being. She writes ...more
David
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I like to wander through the library, just to see what's on the shelves. Yesterday, I had the good luck to find a book by Diana Athill, so I nabbed it. Always worth reading, she's such a good writer. I read this all in one sitting, because it's brief, but more because she's so good you don't want to stop. Don't miss the poem at the very end, and even the acknowledgements page is a pleasure worth your time. In fact, you might turn to that page first, to get a sense of how the book came to be in y ...more
Damian
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Re-reading this was like a visit with Diana. It's her funeral this week and her words, on and off the page, will be ringing in my head.
Ali
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Diana Athill is best known now for her memoirs and short stories, though she began her career in publishing. Working as an editor with Andre Deutsch – one of the founders of the company, through a fifty-year career she worked with some of the biggest names in literature. Her book Stet – which I received recently, is the memoir about that work, and the people she met and worked with. I am looking forward to reading that.

“My two valuable lessons are: avoid romanticism and abhor possessiveness.”

Ali
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Elizabeth
Three and a half stars.

It wasn't an easy read. Diana Athill covers some very brave, but often unpalatable subjects in this one. One describes in great detail a miscarriage she suffered in her 40s of a much wanted child. She nearly died of a massive haemorrhage. Another chapter discusses when it was the right time for her to give up independent living and move to a care home, albeit a very smart and lovely one in North London peopled by equally like minded residents. I didn't enjoy the chapter a
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Danielle Palmer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lindsay Seddon
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alive, Alive, Oh! is a collection of memories that matter most to Athill as she draws nearer to her 100th birthday.

I was drawn to this after reading a review which mentioned Athill's thoughts on moving herself into a retirement/care home. It was a point of view I'd never considered before, that such a move can be a positive one for everybody concerned.

Many chapters surprised me in the same way she seemed to have always been ahead of her time. Some stories really made stop and think about my ow
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Elizabeth Brookbank
Oh, how I loved this. Loved it even more than her other memoir that I raved about. There is something about her that I relate to so deeply; her writing speaks straight to my soul. On everything from childhood memories to family to relationships (or lack there of) to motherhood (or lack thereof), she is wise and comforting and inspirational and funny and non-conforming - all the good things. I could go on, but I won't. Just read her.
Kyle
Jan 31, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I get older I find myself thinking more and more about the short time we have and about whether or not I'm using my time wisely. When considering these questions I believe it is immensely useful to learn from those who are farther down the road. Seven years ago I read Athill's first memoir, Somewhere Towards the End , written when she was 91 and focused on how things like her sex drive, her reading habits, etc. had changed as she aged. Now at the age of 98, Athill has given us this book of es ...more
Kathleen
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not often you have the opportunity to read a book written by a 97 year-old. I am old enough, even at just 67, to understand the author's comment that although there are increasing limitations on a physical level as one gets older, there are new pleasures that balance them. One is memories -- there are so many memories, and the time and perspective to string them together into one's own story. I wish I knew Diana Athill, I think she must be a fascinating person to talk to. There is no 'plot' ...more
Isabella Roden
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adored this book. Short, but I stretched it out so that I could spend as much time as possible with the delicious writing, so British, but in the warmest way possible. I heard about this book because it was on NPR's list of best books of 2016 and I'm so glad I did. The author is 100 and looking back at special moments from her life... Some are sweet, some are harrowing, but all are lovely and reveal hidden depths, whether about her grandparents' garden, a miscarriage, or the revolution in Toba ...more
Shelly
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bbc4-books
My fastest read in ages and thats because its so good. A collection of essays, meaning you can never get fed up of any subject.
Varied and full of life, from childhood, lovers, war, death, pregnancy and a like.
Diana has lead a true and womderful life and has a great storytelling way of phrasing her essays. I have fallen in love with her and her look on life.
Diana I salute you!
Kelly Furniss
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to on Radio 4 as the Book at Bedtime choice. Stephanie Cole reads the collection of essays by Diana Athill.
We follow Diana's life, the ups and downs and life changing events that define her and we hear her opinion on a range of subjects including the War and liberation. So wonderfully descriptive you don't have to be a fan of her work to enjoy this thought provoking memoir.
Cheryl
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely wonderful memoir; as I head into my 6th decade I can only hope to reach my 9th with the same optimistic, and realistic perspective as Athill. So glad I read a short review of this book and got it from the library, was not familiar with Athill, plan to read her other memoirs.
Faith McLellan
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?
Lisa Edwards
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Diana Athill - who seems to have lived a life I want for myself, independent and free - and now I want to read everything she's written.
Carolyn Pina
Memories matter more than you think, including our small, simple pleasures. So, pay close attention to what you like/love. That's what I learned from Diana.
Linden
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Candid memories and reflections from the nonagenarian's very long life.
Pghbekka
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: got-from-library
If you love memoirs and have not read Diana Athill, I highly recommend all of her work.

Born in Norfolk, England in 1917, she worked during the war at BBC Overseas Service in the News Information Department. After the war she worked as an editor, first at Allan Wingate and then at André Deutsch, until her retirement at the age of 75 in 1993. As an editor, she worked with authors such as Jean Rhys, V. S. Naipaul, Norman Mailer. In between, she has traveled the world and lived and loved and beautif
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Marigold
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure I can add to what others have said about this amazing little book of essays that then 98-year-old Diana Athill has written about her life, aging, and "things that matter." She writes about a sustaining feature of getting to be very old--and that is, having so many memories and stories, and getting to reflect on all the good and also not so good times, remembering friends, remembering wonderful places and good food and great experiences, and even getting to share them with others and ...more
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Diana Athill was a British literary editor, novelist and memoirist who worked with some of the greatest writers of the 20th century at the London-based publishing company André Deutsch Ltd.

She was born in Norfolk in 1917 and educated at home until she was fourteen. She read English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and graduated in 1939. She spent the war years working at the BBC Overseas Service in
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“Look! Why want anything more marvellous than what is.” 2 likes
“My two valuable lessons are: avoid romanticism and abhor possessiveness.” 2 likes
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