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After a Funeral [Paperback]

Diana Athill
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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After a Funeral After a Funeral 4.4 out of 5 stars (7)
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Book Description

28 July 2000
This is the story of how and why a talented writer came to kill himself. When Diana Athill met the man she calls Didi, an Egyptian in exile, she fell in love instantly and out of love just as fast. Didi moved into her flat, they shared housework and holidays, and a life of easy intimacy seemed to beckon. But Didi's sweetness and intelligence soon revealed a darker side - he was a gambler, a drinker and a womaniser, impossible to live with but impossible to ignore. With painful honesty, Diana Athill explores the three years they spent together; a period that culminated in Didi's suicide - in her home - an event he described in the journals he left for her to read as "the one authentic act of my life".

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Product details

  • Paperback: 162 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; New edition edition (28 July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862073899
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862073890
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 555,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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. She is the author of five volumes of memoirs - Stet, Instead of a Letter, After a Funeral, Yesterday Morning, Make Believe - and a novel, Don't Look at Me Like That. A selection of her memoirs appear in Life Class published in November 2009. She lives in London.

Product Description

About the Author

Diana Athill was born in 1917 and spent her childhood in Norfolk, which remains her family's home. After leaving Oxford, where she read English, she went to London and got a job with the BBC which lasted for the duration of the Second World War. In 1946, by chance, she drifted into publishing, which has remained her profession ever since. She has been a director of Andre Deutsch Limited since the firm was founded in 1952. Her own publications are An Unavoidable Delay (1960 - a collection of stories published only in the United States), Instead of a Letter (1963 - an autobiography) and Don't Look At Me Like That (1969 - a novel). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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One evening in the summer of 1963 I ran downstairs to answer the door with special pleasure. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By hiljean VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is such an extraordinary book that it's hard to know where to begin. Diana Athill recounts the story of her friendship with a young Egyptian writer who comes to live with her in England on a "temporary" basis. Three years later he commits suicide while she is away. Athill tries to unravel the complexity of his character and behaviour - charming and delightful one minute, vindictive and self-destructive the next. It is a fascinating but poignant account, especially for anyone who has loved and lived with that kind of person. His personal demons were drink, gambling, and womanising and an inability to hold down any sort of proper employment. Yet his wit and charm made everyone around him forgive him.

The seeds of his erratic behaviour lay, of course, in his childhood and Athill has written the book partly as a lesson to new parents. This is hardly light reading, but Athill is also remarkably candid about her own feelings and behaviour in her analysis of an impossible situation. She writes in a style that is clear and compelling. Highly recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Who did Athill really write this book for? 31 Aug 2012
By Rusty
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it's a touching memorial to a man who obviously meant a lot to Diana Athill. On the other hand, it's a knowing exploitation of that man's mental illness and suicide. Think about it: however altruistic/honourable the author's intentions might seem, she is ultimately the one who profits from this account of Didi's life (the troubled Egyptian author Waguih Ghali). She seems to have written this book a) to clear her own conscience and b) to indulge in the juicy, very "literary" topics of madness and suicide.

I'll admit that I was hooked on Athill's writing until the very end... it's an intriguing story, made all the more interesting by the fact that it really did happen. But when I turned the last page, I began to feel as though I'd been "played". This was gossipy, sensationalist writing at its very best and I'd been kept in my seat by the promise of a gruesome climax: Didi's final breakdown and subsequent suicide. I was being entertained at his expense. Did I really need all of those intimate, first-hand excerpts from his diary? Or a description of how Athill made love to him, just weeks before he took his own life? I felt as though I'd intruded on this man's private misery... which Athill was now airing in public, seemingly as a badge of honour: "an exiled artist killed himself in my flat - haven't I led an exciting, passion-filled life?".

This self-serving tone creeps in at other times, too - for example, when Athill uses foul language entirely without reason (even going so far as the "C" word at one point). I also don't trust anyone who uses the word "lover" too often. "My lover said this", "I talked it over with my lover"... these are self-conscious attempts to make herself seem liberated, open-minded and young at heart. I found it all quite pretentious, which - by the time you're almost seventy - really is a quality you should've grown out of.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Okay that's a bad taste pun based around Madonna's 1990s song.

This is a compelling read, my third Athill after Instead of a Book and Make Believe. This owes much to the second; it is a study of a neurotic personality. Athill seems drawn to these types on this evidence; through a controlling need to assist, an attraction to interesting, charismatic types, followed by an inability to cut loose due to her genteel upbringing? Who knows...

This account will chime with anyone who has been involved with a neurotic personality. Once you've done it once, you don't need to again, let's put it that way. This book allows you to say, 'I've got the T-shirt'... and is a cautionary tale therefore. I understand the account; you feel you to need to write it down to lay a trail of breadcrumbs as you descend into their all-ecompassing insanity. They suck the oxygen out of the room, there's never any break so it's hard to cut loose.

This is more engrossing than Make Believe, a study of a charismatic black would-be political figure. It doesn't end well. Sometimes it is tempting to be cynical about the author's account, but only towards the end. I think this is because Athill's prose is so spot on that it removes any need on the reader to interpret events, so one begins to look elsewhere. Her free habit of reading other people's diaries, even if it's sometimes with their consent, seems a bit odd. Though of course, after Didi's death, she would have retained all his accounts anyway, hence she can duplicate them. Anyway, an amazing psychological study let down only slightly by a sense, fashionable for the time, that it is all down to his lonely childhood, rather than the fact that some people are just born neurotic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 10 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A wonderful I enjoyed every minute.
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