cover image Alive, Alive Oh! And Other Things That Matter

Alive, Alive Oh! And Other Things That Matter

Diana Athill. Norton, $24.95 (180p) ISBN 978-0-393-25371-9

Almost 10 years after the publication of Athill’s memoir Somewhere Towards the End, she bestows upon readers another gift of her elegant glimpses back at many of her life’s most memorable moments. In beguiling, evocative prose, she details her nostalgia for growing up on her grandmother’s farm; her harrowing, ambivalent feelings around unexpectedly becoming pregnant in her 40s and living through a miscarriage; and her decision to move into a retirement home, where she discovers that “nothing is more valuable than being free to do whatever you are capable of doing.” After her miscarriage, she’s relieved that she won’t have to tell her mother about the pregnancy, and also that she is alive—she realizes that she loved being alive so much that “not having died was much more important to me by far than losing the child.” Looking back on her life, Athill declares that she is happy, sharing the two valuable lessons she’s learned: steer clear of romanticism, and abhor possessiveness. Athill has a charming and captivating way with a story, and a graceful, plainspoken manner of revealing the humor, gravity, and momentary beauty of a life fully lived. (Jan.)