Alive, Alive Oh!

And Other Things that Matter

Diana Athill

Published: 19 November 2015
Hardback, B Format
129x198mm, 144 pages
ISBN: 9781783782543

Other Editions


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Published: 7 July 2016
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 144 pages
ISBN: 9781783782727

Ebook Available


Several years ago, Diana Athill accepted that she could no longer live entirely independently, and moved to a retirement home in Highgate. There, she found herself released from the daily anxieties of caring for her own property, and free to settle into her remaining years. From this vantage point, she reflects on what it feels like to be very old, and on the moments in her long life that have risen to the surface and which sustain her in these last years.

What really matters in the end? And after a long life, which memories stand out? As she approaches her 100th year, Athill recalls in sparkling, precise detail the exact layout of the garden of her childhood, a vast and beautiful park attached to a large house; relates with humour, clarity and honesty her experiences of the First and Second World Wars and her trips to Europe as a young woman; and in the remarkable title chapter, describes her pregnancy at the age of forty-three, losing the baby and almost losing her life - and her gratitude and joy on discovering that she had survived.

With vivid memories of the past mingled with candid, wise and often very funny reflections on what it's like to be very old, Alive, Alive Oh! reminds us what really matters, and of the joy to be found at every stage of life.

About the author

Image of Diana Athill

Diana Athill was born in 1917. She helped André Deutsch establish the publishing company that bore his name and worked as an editor for Deutsch for four decades. Athill's distinguished career as an editor is the subject of her acclaimed memoir Stet, which is also published by Granta Books, as are several further volumes of memoirs, Instead of a Letter, After a Funeral, Yesterday Morning, Make Believe, Somewhere Towards the End, and Alive, Alive Oh!, the travelogue A Florence Diary, a novel, Don't Look at Me Like That, and a collection of letters, Instead of a Book. In January 2009, she won the Costa Biography Award for Somewhere Towards the End, and was presented with an OBE. She lives in London. More about the author

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