Like old age itself this book is not for sissies. Luckily for us Lively is one of our most gifted writers . . . This is Lively at her best (Sunday Express)
A fascinating portrait not only of the author but of the times through which she has lived . . . sharp, unsentimental and ruefully funny (Daily Telegraph)
Lively's memoir about age and the pleasures and pains of seniority is informative, instructive, unexpected and beautifully observed (Vogue)
An elegant and thoughtful dissection of a subject few writers dare dwell on (Times Magazine)
Rich in observations and recollections. It should be read slowly because there is much to invite reflection (Herald Scotland)
Other brilliant women writers (Joyce Carol Oates, Joan Didion . . .) have written whole volumes on widowhood, but Penelope Lively's description of that condition is all the more affecting by being sparse . . . Will delight all those who love Lively's novels . . . It's all enthralling: autobiography in miniature (Daily Mail)
A superb study of memory and of her own voyage into the ninth decade of her life . . . Lively is a compelling, vitally interested witness to time past (Helen Dunmore Observer Books of the Year)
Ammonites & Leaping Fish is powerfully consoling. Lively is certainly sagacious, her words careful and freighted. But there is girlishness here, too. Things still catch her eye, her attention. New books. Old stories. Another day for the taking (Rachel Cooke Observer)
A memoir that addresses ageing, memory, time and a life in the 20th century, by one of our greatest writers, Penelope Lively.
'This is not quite a memoir. Rather, it is the view from old age. And a view of old age itself, this place at which we arrive with a certain surprise - ambushed, or so it can seem. One of the few advantages of age is that you can report on it with a certain authority; you are a native now, and know what goes on here.'
In this charming but powerful memoir, Penelope Lively reports from beyond the horizon of old age. She describes what old age feels like for those who have arrived there and considers the implications of this new demographic. She looks at the context of a life and times, the history and archaeology that is actually being made as we live out our lives in real time, in her case World War II; post war penny-pinching Britain; the Suez crisis; the Cold War and up to the present day. She examines the tricks and truths of memory. She looks back over a lifetime of reading and writing. And finally she looks at her identifying cargo of possessions - two ammonites, a cat, a pair of American ducks and a leaping fish sherd, amongst others. This is an elegant, moving and deeply enjoyable memoir by one of our most loved writers.