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on 24 June 2015
Depressing and repetitive. I was under the impression that this book would be light hearted and amusing bed time reading. However as it went on the story line degenerated to a miserable scenario and I abandoned the book in favour of something more uplifting.
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VINE VOICEon 10 February 2010
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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on 31 January 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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on 25 February 2007
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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on 25 April 2014
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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on 1 May 2015
It's funny and it has a lot of good positive humour it also makes time fly while reading it.
It is a great read and I would recommend it to anyone.
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on 29 September 2014
Dark and dismal. Not for me.
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on 25 December 2016
Honest and funny account of old age. A good Christmas read. I recommend it. Sometimes cruel as you'd expect from Amis.
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on 2 April 2016
A wonderful, bittersweet story, far too short, I wished it could have been longer.
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VINE VOICEon 28 May 2014
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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