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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 9 June 2017
Excellent; quality very high, well-packaged. Will use seller again.
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on 18 April 2017
Diana Athill's writing provides clarity, insight and understanding of people and situations that for the rest of us could be unfathomably muddy waters.
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on 6 April 2017
smooth administrative arrangements. Received in excellent condition
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VINE VOICEon 5 October 2010
This is such an extraordinary book that it's hard to know where to begin. Diana Athill recounts the story of her friendship with a young Egyptian writer who comes to live with her in England on a "temporary" basis. Three years later he commits suicide while she is away. Athill tries to unravel the complexity of his character and behaviour - charming and delightful one minute, vindictive and self-destructive the next. It is a fascinating but poignant account, especially for anyone who has loved and lived with that kind of person. His personal demons were drink, gambling, and womanising and an inability to hold down any sort of proper employment. Yet his wit and charm made everyone around him forgive him.

The seeds of his erratic behaviour lay, of course, in his childhood and Athill has written the book partly as a lesson to new parents. This is hardly light reading, but Athill is also remarkably candid about her own feelings and behaviour in her analysis of an impossible situation. She writes in a style that is clear and compelling. Highly recommended.
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on 31 August 2012
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it's a touching memorial to a man who obviously meant a lot to Diana Athill. On the other hand, it's a knowing exploitation of that man's mental illness and suicide. Think about it: however altruistic/honourable the author's intentions might seem, she is ultimately the one who profits from this account of Didi's life (the troubled Egyptian author Waguih Ghali). She seems to have written this book a) to clear her own conscience and b) to indulge in the juicy, very "literary" topics of madness and suicide.

I'll admit that I was hooked on Athill's writing until the very end... it's an intriguing story, made all the more interesting by the fact that it really did happen. But when I turned the last page, I began to feel as though I'd been "played". This was gossipy, sensationalist writing at its very best and I'd been kept in my seat by the promise of a gruesome climax: Didi's final breakdown and subsequent suicide. I was being entertained at his expense. Did I really need all of those intimate, first-hand excerpts from his diary? Or a description of how Athill made love to him, just weeks before he took his own life? I felt as though I'd intruded on this man's private misery... which Athill was now airing in public, seemingly as a badge of honour: "an exiled artist killed himself in my flat - haven't I led an exciting, passion-filled life?".

This self-serving tone creeps in at other times, too - for example, when Athill uses foul language entirely without reason (even going so far as the "C" word at one point). I also don't trust anyone who uses the word "lover" too often. "My lover said this", "I talked it over with my lover"... these are self-conscious attempts to make herself seem liberated, open-minded and young at heart. I found it all quite pretentious, which - by the time you're almost seventy - really is a quality you should've grown out of.
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on 12 December 2012
Okay that's a bad taste pun based around Madonna's 1990s song.

This is a compelling read, my third Athill after Instead of a Book and Make Believe. This owes much to the second; it is a study of a neurotic personality. Athill seems drawn to these types on this evidence; through a controlling need to assist, an attraction to interesting, charismatic types, followed by an inability to cut loose due to her genteel upbringing? Who knows...

This account will chime with anyone who has been involved with a neurotic personality. Once you've done it once, you don't need to again, let's put it that way. This book allows you to say, 'I've got the T-shirt'... and is a cautionary tale therefore. I understand the account; you feel you to need to write it down to lay a trail of breadcrumbs as you descend into their all-ecompassing insanity. They suck the oxygen out of the room, there's never any break so it's hard to cut loose.

This is more engrossing than Make Believe, a study of a charismatic black would-be political figure. It doesn't end well. Sometimes it is tempting to be cynical about the author's account, but only towards the end. I think this is because Athill's prose is so spot on that it removes any need on the reader to interpret events, so one begins to look elsewhere. Her free habit of reading other people's diaries, even if it's sometimes with their consent, seems a bit odd. Though of course, after Didi's death, she would have retained all his accounts anyway, hence she can duplicate them. Anyway, an amazing psychological study let down only slightly by a sense, fashionable for the time, that it is all down to his lonely childhood, rather than the fact that some people are just born neurotic.
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on 27 October 2011
I am an active man in my early sixties. This book about one woman's experience of old age is strangely life-affirming and thought-provoking. When I had finished I knew it had changed me although I couldn't say how.
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on 10 May 2013
I love Diana's crafted,crisp sentences!She has this superb gift of precise writing.One can not change a word.Diana is delightful,my hero.
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on 26 January 2016
Absolutely exasperating Didi but such good writing - I found myself thinking about it often after I'd finished the book
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on 4 November 2012
I love Diana Athill and have read most of her work now. Whilst After The Funeral may not be my favourite Athill so far, it certainly has had me hooked for the last 2 days. Didi, a manic depressive, and writer, lived with Diana for some time in the '60's, his erratic, sometimes downright cruel behaviour towards his kindly host, is relentless and at times disurbing. Diana chose to ignore it for much of the time, inexplicable to modern day readers, perhaps, but typical of women of her class and time.

This could have easily become a turgid tale, but Diana's absolute honestly regarding her role in the events was refreshing and gave the account balance. Her understated way of putting events across in a candid, sometimes witty way is a delight. Didi never rated her writing, I am one of Diana's many fans that would disagree with him!
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