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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Memoir Of Old Age
Penelope Lively's new book 'is not quite a memoir' but it is about memory and 'the view from old age'. She bravely tackles a subject few others have dared to broach. This fascinating, truthful and lucid study is timely, as old age is the new demographic and the youngish politicians cannot ignore the problems created by the 1.4 million in the UK now over 80, 'gobbling up...
Published 5 months ago by ACB (swansea)

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting memoir
As I was brought up in a similar period to the writer her book reminded me of some events I had forgotten. I found it quite densely written, but the section on her upbringing in Egypt was fascinating and evoked an image of an unusual upbringing.
Published 12 days ago by Julia Drum


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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Memoir Of Old Age, 4 Nov 2013
By 
ACB (swansea) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Penelope Lively's new book 'is not quite a memoir' but it is about memory and 'the view from old age'. She bravely tackles a subject few others have dared to broach. This fascinating, truthful and lucid study is timely, as old age is the new demographic and the youngish politicians cannot ignore the problems created by the 1.4 million in the UK now over 80, 'gobbling up benefits', giving grief to government agencies, filling GP surgeries and hospital beds, bolstered by pensions, free passes for transport, winter fuel, TV licences and prescriptions yet expecting people to work until they are nearly 70. 'Today, people in their 60's seem - not young, just nicely mature... old age is in the eye of the beholder'. She thinks 70 is the brink of old age and 80 definitely old. Old age is forever stereotyped, she feels, but her own 80 year old self is just 'a top layer dressing...early selves are still mutinously present getting a word in now and then'. She discusses widowhood. 'The world is full of widows... we have engaged with grief and loss...so get on with it and don't behave as though you are uniquely afflicted'. She was married to Professor Jack Lively for 41 years; he died 12 years ago but is with her in her dreams, alive with herself often younger.

She is not envious of the young and would not wish to be young again if it meant 'a repeat performance'. Failing eyesight and arthritis have prevented her from the intense gardening she loved (she still potters about in her small, paved London garden). She no longer desires to travel. Her emphasis is on preservation of memory. She is aware it starts to fail as we get older. Reading is her daily fix, brain food, plenty of fiction, history, archaeology and treasured books from her shelves. and her still writing survives. She asks herself why we remember certain things whilst others are lost in 'the great dark cavern of what we have forgotten'.

Although certain desires and drives have gone, Penelope is 'as alive to the world as I have ever been'. She argues for it's many pleasures: the spring sunshine, food, a crisp newspaper, a hot shower, the sound of a beloved voice on the phone, the comfort of bed. The final section contains six items that mean a great deal to her and why. Two little ammonites in a piece of Dorset rock (like the one embossed on the book's cover), some kettle holders from Maine, a shard of 12th century pottery with two little leaping fish, an Egyptian cat ornament, a mother-of-pearl covered New Testament and an 18th century sampler. Penelope Lively observes that 'One of the few advantages of age is that you can report on it with a certain authority', adding 'We are sleeping histories of the world'. Delight, observant, witty and thoughtful; this wonderful book has all of these and is a joy to read.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 80 year old reality - pros and cons - wonderful eye opener, 29 Oct 2013
Very much enjoyed this book by Penelope Lively. I had read a review by Bel Mooney and decided to buy it. It's a wonderful eye-opener into a modern day 80 year-old lady's take on life. We all wonder what old-age is like and what inner resources are available to us and as a 63 year old woman 'not young, just nicely mature' I found it most helpful. Her expressive writing is full of wise advice. She writes on memory which is important to us all - about there being three types of memory procedural, semantic and autobiographical memory giving context.
I found this a very interesting and wide-ranging book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stored Fragments, 4 Dec 2013
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As the author says, this book is a sort of memoir, but below the memories and narratives there lies a deep layer of thought, a jurassic cliff of meaning and understanding. The rating of four stars rather than five concerns quantity rather than quality and is the sign of dissatisfaction: I would have liked more of every layer.

As do all such offerings, it is death-defying and records a love garnered from the life so far enjoyed.

This is to be recommended to all who like Mrs Lively's work, to all who enjoy a gentle philosophy with a story, and especially to all who have reached old age or who have dealings with the final years of a full life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memory lane is worth the trip., 9 Jan 2014
By 
Bookie (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time (Kindle Edition)
In this inventive trawl through memory, Penelope Lively reviews the landscape of old age from the perspective of an occupant. It's a bold but compelling take; one which leaves me wondering whether it's better to travel than arrive. Maybe my view is coloured by being on the cusp; not wanting to travel toward that final destination and certainly not having yet arrived.

As always, her writing is entertaining and original. She uses language and grammar to the full. I like a book where I discover new words and there were a few for me here. I enjoyed her often lyrical reflections. She has, I believe, fallen a little out of favour as an author. How many folk remember her Booker or Costa short list titles?

These reflections are personal, but with an underlying universal truth. Along with Diane Athill, she's one of very few writers capable of giving the ordinary reader a clear view from the road ahead. I enjoyed her journey and thank her for sharing part of her eventful life with us. It's a delightful, poignant but overwhelmingly positive read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to read and remember, 20 Jan 2014
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The first sixty pages are superb and full of quotes I had to sideline to ensure I could go back to them as they are so good and I didt want my wife to miss them. Partly this is so profound because it is authentic, it is written by an old person, almost a view from the other side. It does not pull punches but at the same time stays determinedly optimistic. The subsequent sections are interesting in parts, but the first part is fully worth the five stars -unique.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reflections, 21 Jan 2014
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S. Finlay (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time (Kindle Edition)
Beautifully written, reflective piece. A mature person's musings on life's events. Lively had a diverse range of life experiences which she quietly recollects.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unexpected treat!, 20 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time (Kindle Edition)
I loved this book for the way it ranged over the memories and experiences of a lifetime. Possibly because I am only a little younger than the author. There was much to relate to and ponder over. A book to set me contemplating my own rather more mundane experiences.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars penelopes story, 20 Jan 2014
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If you are reaching eighty years, follow this life review of Penelopes, it struck many cords with my now forgotten life.
a very refreshing read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you live until eighty, 5 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time (Kindle Edition)
this is a proufound and deep meditation on old age. couldn't read it all at one sitting the honesty
is so penetrating and thoughtful It made me wonder if I wanted to grow old. Penelope lively's prose still sings and fills your head with reflections
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and Topical, 15 Dec 2013
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D. J. Powell (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time (Kindle Edition)
For all us newly old, plenty of insights. Of course you have to have good health, but if you have then things get interesting
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