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The Presence [Kindle Edition]

Dannie Abse
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description


Several months after the death of poet Dannie Abse's wife, Joan, in a car accident, he began to write a diary which is both a record of present grief and a portrait of a marriage that lasted more than fifty years. It is an extraordinary document, painful but celebratory, funny yet often tragic, bursting with joy as well as sorrow and full of a deep understanding of what it means to be human.

Product Description


'A remarkable and tender document' -- Sunday Times

'A supremely fresh and vital performance, matching profound
emotion with witty observation... This is a truly marvellous book' -- Boyd Tonkin, Independent

'For all its painful honesty, a surprisingly joyful and compelling
book... Imbued with all the best qualities of what it means to human and in
-- Owen Sheers, Independent on Sunday

A fragment of autobiography written from the most private part of a poet's heart, with a pen dipped in blood and tears... Elegiac and celebratory -- Daily Telegraph, Carol Ann Duffy

Full of memorable images... As Abse performs the strange and also strangely valuable work of mourning, he offers, with The Presence, wit and balm -- Financial Times


It's a very moving document, suffused with the pain of losing Joan, at the same time acknowledging her continuing presence'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 316 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (31 Mar. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00702M2UM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #296,230 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving tribute 14 Oct. 2008
Dr Dannie Abse has written a moving tribute to his departed beloved partner after 50 years. As a retired psychiatrist I found his self-assessment of his bereaved state deeply touching, particularly because I and my wife have been together nigh on sixty years in a loving companionship too. A reason for reading this book was my anticipation how I might cope if my wife predeceases me and I am left, like Dr Abse, musing over wonderful memories. I liked the way he juxtaposed the present with the past in his diary, and the appropriate, often amusing, anecdotes interspersed throughout. My belated sincere condolences and my hope that his loss has been alleviated by writing and sharing with others. PS: I must sadly confess to being a poetry-philistine, but I'm sure the "poetry-enamoured" will appreciate Dr Abse's poems.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A difficult territory 2 July 2009
This moving journal charts Abse's reactions during the year after he lost his wife, Joan, in a traffic accident. Having lost my daughter in a traffic accident nearly a year ago I found it comforting to read his words - it made me realise that the range of feelings I have are not unique: that I am not mad ... but that the grief one feels when an innocent loved one is killed in this way is complex and long-lasting. He is an eloquent guide to this difficult territory ... at times, so 'eloquent' that I found myself having to consult the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in order to understand some of his words - and this, despite having a master's degree in English! However, maybe such a difficult journey needs difficult language to try to explain things at times.

The journal also includes various poems - both by Abse and other writers -that shed light on his feelings.

This is a moving book - but it is not unremittingly bleak: at times it will make the reader laugh as well as cry. Whilst I obviously found it struck a special chord for me, I don't feel that you have to be grief-stricken in order to appreciate Abse's evocation of his wife's presence and the charting of his journey through the year following her death ... indeed, it would be foolish to make such an assumption, just as it would to make the assumption that a reader has to be old and have ungrateful children in order to appreciate 'King Lear'!

Abse is famous as a poet, but he is a fine writer of prose too, as this journal attests. I recommend the book - buy it - you won't be disappointed.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A moving tribute to lost love 18 July 2009
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Dannie Abse lost his beloved wife Joan in a car accident in which he survived. Here he charts his progress in a kind of diary/memoir of the year after her death.

It is gentle, emotional without being sentimental and full of wonderful poems (not just his own) and quotations from which he has found strength or the perfect way to express his feelings.

This is not just a book about grief, it is a book which celebrates and reveres a deep and lasting love for another human being, one which shaped his life and understanding. His attempts to navigate life without that presence is truly touching.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now part of my life 10 Nov. 2009
Although this is a book about pain and loss, it is somehow consoling and a book I return to. It contains life at its best and at its worst, funny and tragic. His marriage is something to envy. Buy it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A diary worth reading 21 Mar. 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book, written as a diary, covers all aspects of grief experienced when you lose someone close. I did find some of the poetry a little heavy going at times but this was my personal view and did not detract from the essence of the book. I also found the reverting back in time added to the diary experience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars true life 19 Feb. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
moving story, which I bought to help with my bereavement . Makes you realise that your loss is happening to other people too
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