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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
By 
Bob Sherunkle (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ending Up (Paperback)
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". (When Bernard was an Army officer, Shorty was his batman; they had a brief affair with each other, which is long since water under the bridge, but which caused Bernard to be cashiered.)

As the plot progresses, each character - even, at some stages, the disillusioned Bernard - intermittently tries in their own way to hang on, or even win back, self-respect. The exception is the irrepressible Shorty, who is more than happy with a modest ration of fags, whisky, etc. When Bernard, feeling that he has little else for live for, and realising that the others are starting to cope with his behaviour, finally escalates his campaign against them, the results are terminally disastrous.

This is possibly Amis' best book. For once, he manages to forget to be Kingsley Amis, and just writes.

However, probably one to avoid if you fear the prospect of getting old ...
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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
By 
V. mullett "verybossyfish" (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ending Up (Paperback)
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
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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
By 
Jl Adcock "John Adcock" (Ashtead UK) - See all my reviews
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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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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars birthday present, 4 April 2013
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I bought it for my husbands birthday because he was very suprised to find that it was still in print
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty , amusing , and well observed ., 27 Mar 2013
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This is Amiss at very nearly his best . The characters are beautifully drawn , the story is at once tragic and farcical , the ending is perhaps a little trite , as if the author became bored with the characters and ,in effect , sprayed them with a machine gun . Nevertheless a very good read .
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed, 25 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Ending Up (Paperback)
This was recommended to me. A swift, poignant read with perfectly drawn characters. It's no fun getting old at all.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Did I love it or hate it?, 24 Jan 2013
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This is a lovely little skit about growing older. It is extremely sad in its hopelessness, but has some true gems in it which are all too recognizable. I laughed out loud on several occasions, and came close to tears on others
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Ending Up
Ending Up by Kingsley Amis (Paperback - 25 Jun 1987)
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