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64 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will be MY bible.
Diana Athill should be a guru. No-one can make you feel life is so enjoyable as she does. How wonderful that at 92, this vibrant, intelligent woman is still fully aware, with all her marbles and her penetrating wit.
She has no sentimentality but she writes with compassion and great humour. This book will remain by my bedside for a long time, to dip into again and...
Published on 7 Nov 2009 by H. Carlton

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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Diana Athill's memoir
I have only read a little of this book so far but this wonderful woman is inspiring and I look forward to discovering so much more ...
Published on 15 Aug 2010 by Veggiegrower


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64 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will be MY bible., 7 Nov 2009
By 
H. Carlton "autobiogfreak" (London, Eng.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Diana Athill should be a guru. No-one can make you feel life is so enjoyable as she does. How wonderful that at 92, this vibrant, intelligent woman is still fully aware, with all her marbles and her penetrating wit.
She has no sentimentality but she writes with compassion and great humour. This book will remain by my bedside for a long time, to dip into again and again.
For anyone over 65, this is a guide on how to grow old gracefully, or even how to ignore your age. It is absolutely essential reading and also entertaining, thought-provoking, interesting and intelligent. What more can you ask for a writer, a person, a book. Diana Athill is a National Treasure. She says her aim was to capture the truth in her writing. Well, whether this is THE truth or not, it is certainly HER truth, and her honesty shines through so loud and clear. A great pleasure to know this woman inhabits the same planet as me. This book is life-enhancing.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down!, 5 Jan 2010
This is truly a fine book. It is large but not that heavy considering, and the worst I can say about it is that Ms Athill tends to repeat herself on various occasions. A good editor could have done little about this because it is in effect simply a compendium of four books of autobiography - none allows for the others to be read alongside it, rather than with a gap of many years.

But that tiny carp aside, I've rarely read anything more effective in this line. I think the crux of its success is its honesty, for she is honest about herself as well as others, gentle in her assessments when necessary but real, above all, just about all the time. She tells it straight, with a candour that is admirable. She's brilliant about the joys and hassles of getting old, and equally engaging about being young - while she's spot on about the life of a book editor (I speak from experience, though none so distinguished as hers). I finished the book wishing I'd the privilege of knowing her - and yet somehow feeling I already did.

It's a truly brilliant price too - a bargain. Don't hesitate - a wise book by a wise woman. We need more of them!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A comforting read, 11 Feb 2011
This review is from: Life Class: The Selected Memoirs of Diana Athill (Paperback)
Life Class consists of four memoirs by Diana Athill, from her childhood to the present day (she was 93 when it was published), with an Introduction by Ian Jack. I had already read the last two memoirs in this new book, Stet and Somewhere Towards the End, covering her years as an editor with Deutsch, and her years as an "oldie", and enjoyed both, so I was eager to read about her earlier years. The first memoir in Life Class (Yesterday Morning) is a wonderful evocation of a childhood spent on an estate in Norfolk, with loving grandparents, parents and loads of aunts and cousins. She goes into beautiful detail so you can picture the house, gardens and the rest of the estate and almost smell the flowers and herbs. The second memoir (Instead of a Letter) deals with the years in which she was jilted, which left her with a depression that lasted a couple of decades, and how she recovered from this shock. Miss Athill tells it as it was, with a frankness that might shock some people but didn't shock me. I prefer the honest truth to hypocrisy. I'm an avid reader and was an editor myself so I thoroughly enjoyed the chapters on life at Deutsch and her memories of some of her authors, especially Jean Rhys and Vidia Naipaul. Now that I am in my early 60s, I am able to appreciate her comments on old age, its drawbacks and our frustrations, and learn from her as well. Miss Athill won't please everyone, because, as she admits herself, she has had a very privileged life and an upbringing that made her extremely self-confident. She also admits to having a cold streak, but the fact that she recognizes this and other character failings makes you fairly willing to forgive her. If you like books, good writing, and are old enough to be nostalgic about life in the old days, you will love this collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound and moving, 9 April 2012
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This review is from: Life Class: The Selected Memoirs of Diana Athill (Paperback)
I started reading Diana Athill the "wrong" way round - So I started with Somewhere Towards the End. A book written by and old woman about being old and about the reality of death being close.(Hence the title)Few friends shared my enthusiasm when I told them what I was reading and that it was beautiful - I was aware at the time I was not explaining exactly what I meant.
So I started reading the selected memoirs of Diana Athill (Life Class) having already read the "end". However, I started it at the beginning - it comprises 4 books - with Early One Morning.
I think I bought it to be able to read Instead of A Letter - the second of the four books included in Life Class.
The book charts the life of Athill - sometimes in minute detail - her writing is sublime.
She covers her privileged childhood and family, the coping and decades of unhappiness after being jilted in a letter by her fiancee, her career as an editor and founding partner with Publisher Andre Deutsch and her increasing age and impending and inevitable death.
Inspiring, uplifting, sad, painful, joyous and profound.
I couldn't put it down and now want to gather everything she ever wrote!
I savoredLife Class: The Selected Memoirs of Diana AthillSomewhere Towards the End every page
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pattern for living..., 3 May 2011
By 
S. Walsgrove (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Life Class: The Selected Memoirs of Diana Athill (Paperback)
As I get older, I appreciate Diana Athill's writing more and more. Her life is fascinating (to an outsider), and she writes about it in a wonderfully clear, concise prose style, totally without self-pity and accepting of her likes and dislikes without passing judgement on any of her actions. This is very unusual, and also wonderfully liberating - she was a feminist before the word was invented, and has lived a much fuller life because of this. The book is a collection of some of her previous autobiographical writings, and to read them all one after the other has been a joy.
The only quibble that I would make with this book is nothing to do with its content, but the fact that my copy was badly bound, so that pages started to fall out even before I had reached them... The publisher needs to address this issue, as this is a book that I will want to re-read, and having to search for loose pages does not improve the reading experience!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT A WOMAN, 20 Feb 2010
By 
Mrs. Pat Ogden (Taunton Somerset) - See all my reviews
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I love Diana Athill. The way she interprets her eveyday life is a joy to read. I find myself nodding as I read saying, "Yes I know exactly what you mean. I look forward to the sequel.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars marvellous, 22 Aug 2010
This book is great,written from the heart and so cleverly and clearly wrote. From the minute I started to read this well presented book I just couldn't stop.If you like honest and descriptive writing at it's best buy this book, enjoyable for both women and men.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 2 May 2013
By 
J. R. Miles "Music novice" (sleaford england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Life Class: The Selected Memoirs of Diana Athill (Paperback)
Another great book from Diana I have enjoyed all of them and hope she writes more
I am a fan forever
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read for women of a certain age!, 17 Jan 2013
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Menopausal women wondering is this it??! A good inspiring read from Diana.Well written and articulate. Would like a follow up on how life in a residential home.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The art of the memoir, 8 Dec 2012
By 
A. Stone (Spain) - See all my reviews
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Diane Athill writes the way she speaks, eloquently and to the point. She manages to stand back from her own life and describes herself in all her glory. A truly extraordinary and interesting woman. Always worth reading.
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Life Class: The Selected Memoirs of Diana Athill
Life Class: The Selected Memoirs of Diana Athill by Diana Athill (Paperback - 7 Oct 2010)
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