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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sympathetic discussion of old age and ageing, 28 Jan 2011
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Nicholas Le Mesurier (UK) - See all my reviews
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Ronald Blythe is best known for his 'vox pop' study of the inhabitants of a village in Suffolk, first published in 1969 as Akenfield. More recently Craig Taylor has taken the same subject and approach and applied it to the twenty first century, in Return to Akenfield.

The View in Winter deserves to be equally well known. Blythe uses his considerable skills as a sympathetic listener and editor to present the views of a number of people who were old in the late 1970s. The voices represented are those of 'ordinary' people, in a variety of roles, including the district nurse, the retired engineer, Douglas Haig's former batman, and many others. Each is given their say, each has something interesting and useful to say about growing old and what the view in winter looks like from their own perspective. Not the least valuable is Blythe's own perspective (though he was just 47 when the book was first published). He weaves quotation and anecdote and acute psychological analysis into a narrative that is wide ranging, intimate and touched with a note of urgency. Reading his introduction is like having a conversation with a friend before going for a walk in the village to meet the neighbours!

There is nothing trivial about his subject, or what he has to say, and he doesn't pull his punches when it comes to comment on how our behaviour will reflect the opportunities offered by increasing longevity in a technologically advanced society. As we reach the stage when almost a quarter of the population is aged 65 or over, "It may soon be necessary and legitimate to criticize the long years of vapidity in which a well, elderly person does little more than eat and play Bingo, or consumes excessive amounts of drugs, or expects a self-indulgent stupidity to go unchecked. Just as the old should be convinced that, whatever happens during senescence, they will never suffer exclusion, so they should understand that age does not exempt them from being despicable."

This is far removed from the rhetoric of much discussion in the press and policy literature on 'the needs of older people.' It is also far removed from the contempt that is inherent in ageism, which is still rife. "At present there is much in our treatment of the old and our attitudes towards them which is scandalously similar to that which governed nineteenth-century attempts to solve the 'intractable' problem of the poor. They are not 'us', is what we are saying (politely and humanely, of course), and there are so many of them!" They are us, and we should live up to the fact. This book helps.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Encouraging Old Age, 6 Sep 2010
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This review is from: The View in Winter: Reflections on Old Age (Paperback)
I recently had a reply from an enquiry about going on working after 65. The reply came back. Of course you can go on working, "indefinitely." That last word was so encouraging and affirming, it had the ring of eternity about it. That is the sort of chuffness that Ronald Blyth creates with his references to the natural world and the society in which he lives.
Go on writing these little books Ronald....indefinitely!

A parish priest
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking stuff, 29 April 2014
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This review is from: The View in Winter: Reflections on Old Age (Paperback)
As ever with Blythe, well written, thoughtful, and stimulating. I am 56 years old and it all made rather too much sense! The key lesson, if there is one, is live your life to the full, build a store of great memories for your old age, and just get on with it. Now, while you still can. Fine advice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Useful Guide, 9 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The View in Winter: Reflections on Old Age (Paperback)
I bought this book to give me a little more insight into ministry among the aged and vulnerable. It's insightful and full of commonsene advice, while digging into the theology of pastoral care for the older generation.
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The View in Winter: Reflections on Old Age
The View in Winter: Reflections on Old Age by Ronald Blythe (Paperback - Jan 2005)
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