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Ending Up [Paperback]

Kingsley Amis
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Jun 1987
Beset by boredom and the decay of old age, the septuagenarian inhabitants of Tuppenny-hapenny Cottage find that malice is the best recipe for keeping their spirits alive. And when the grandchildren arrive to do their duty on Christmas Day, the festivities degenerate into an unforeseen riot.

Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (25 Jun 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140041516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140041514
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 10.6 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,183,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Kingsley Amis's (1922-95) works take a humorous yet highly critical look at British society, especially in the period following the end of World War II. Born in London, Amis explored his disillusionment in novels such as That Uncertain Feeling (1955). His other works include The Green Man (1970), Stanley and the Women (1984), and The Old Devils (1986), which won the Booker Prize. Amis also wrote poetry, criticism, and short stories. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The sere and yellow leaf 10 Feb 2010
The Green Man was the first novel in which Amis began to express intimations of mortality. In Ending Up, he faced the topic of death head-on, more than in any of his other books. (By comparison The Old Devils, for example, is light reading.) When I first read it, over 30 years ago, I found it depressing enough, and it rings even truer now. As always with Amis, there is brilliant humour, but here it is unremittingly black.

The story describes the final stages of the lives of five old people, each connected with one or two of the others, but (in some cases reluctantly) forced to share an isolated country cottage through lack of money. It could be described as one of Amis' genre books, as the format is classical Greek tragedy. Aristotle's unities are more or less obeyed; all the action takes place in or around the cottage, and the only other characters are very much bit-parts.

Of the five ill-assorted characters, three are unselfish and likeable; a fourth, Marigold, is vain and selfish, but wins the reader's sympathy for her desperate attempts to "keep up appearances". The fifth, Bernard, is the villain; he is unable to control his distaste for a life he feels is wasted, and for the lifestyle now enforced on him. His only diversion is to take out his bile on the others, with his success depending on their strength of character. Adela, his long-suffering sister, and George, his bedridden, aphasic brother-in-law, are quite unable to fight his psychological bullying. Marigold is better able to resist Bernard's venom, but it has almost no impact on Shorty, who is - literally - the "eternal squaddie".
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Poignant Book 25 Feb 2007
I last read this book aged 21 and it has left me with such a great feeling about the book.

It is set in an old folks home and lets you imagine the faces of the people in the place. It is set around their daily lives and just remember we all get old. We also, forget that death is the only thing guaranteed in life and in these places there is only one way too leave...

Funny to the point of crying with laughter. Do not be put off by the subject, it is a short compulsive read and for me one of Kingsley Amis's best books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars book 25 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
yes this kept me entertained and the characters were well defined and believable of course it was a rather sad reflection of the human condition and unfulfiied dreams --amusing
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Less is More 31 Jan 2013
Published in 1974, Kingsley Amis's short novel doesn't feel terribly dated. It is a description of purgatory, although purgatory placed the living side of death. Hell is definitely the other people with whom each of the five characters has to share Tuppenny-Hapenny Cottage. In a very short book Kinglsey Amis manages to address or at least touch upon old age, resignation, malice, language, dementia, homosexuality, loneliness, disappointment, the generation gap, doctor-patient relations, mortality, and a little (actually quite a lot) more malice. And it is very, very funny, in that way which makes you question the moral heft of your own sense of humour. A clever, wise, witty, acerbic book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The power of the short novel in action 28 May 2014
At just over 100 pages, this short novel by Kingsley Amis packs a considerable punch, and really demonstrates yet again the power that short novels can have over the numerous doorstep size volumes that get published these days,

Published in 1974 and listed for the Booker Prize, Amis explores the indignities of old age through the lives of a group of misfits who are living together in a cottage in the middle of nowhere. The characters are well drawn, eccentric, curmudgeonly, unpleasant, decaying; and what strikes the reader most is just how topical the book is, some 40 years after it was written. If anything, concern for what happens when we get older is more pronounced today, but Amis had it pretty much weighed off in this very dark - and occasionally quite unpleasant - little read.

Having toyed around with us as readers for most of the book, with various black-comedy moments and some serious points about age and what it does to us, Amis delivers the killer punch in the closing pages, with the result that the book and its themes linger some time after the final page. Short, intense novels seem to do this much more effectively than longer ones - and Ending Up is a case in point.

With a well-written introduction from Helen Dunmore to set the scene and context for this piece of writing from Amis and where it fits into his body of work, this slim novel has much to recommend it. One of Amis's most memorable shorter books.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My Only Friends, The End... 14 May 2014
KA draws a picture of a group of dysfunctional humans nearing the end of their lives in an isolated cottage, soused in memories good and bad, and steeped in irremediable regrets. Visits by younger relatives are highlights for these decaying denizens; the tender fascination of children with the dessicated relics they will themselves become (if they make it that far) is beautifully observed, for example. Criticisms include a suspicion that the characters are Types to illustrate modes of behaviour (though the abashed terror of one at her incipient dementia is powerfully moving, the reaction of another to his terminal diagnosis heart-rending); and the ending, though perhaps dramatically correct in Classical terms, is a contrivance too far. Nevertheless, the more I read of KA the more I rate him. His pal Philip Larkin's dread of death (ref Aubade) is here in spades but so is the compensatory black humour. Go for it; if you're young, the tedious trial of visiting aged relatves is captured perfectly; if old, you've been there and done it all. There's something here for everyone, then, including brilliant, gleaming comedy panned from the mixed experiences the years bequeath us.
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