Alive, Alive Oh! | Granta

  • Published: 07/07/2016
  • ISBN: 9781783782727
  • 129x20mm
  • 144 pages

Alive, Alive Oh!

Diana Athill

What matters in the end? In the final years of life, which memories stand out? Writing from her retirement home in Highgate, London, as she approaches her 100th year, Diana Athill reflects on what it is like to be in her nineties, and on the moments in her life which have risen to the surface and sustain her in her later years.

She recalls in sparkling detail the exact layout of the garden of her childhood, a vast and beautiful park attached to a large house, and writes with humour, clarity and honesty about her experiences of the First and Second World Wars, and her trips to Europe as a young woman. In the remarkable title chapter, Athill describes her pregnancy at the age of forty-three, losing the baby and almost losing her life, and her gratitude on discovering that she had survived.

With vivid memories of the past mingled with candid, wise and often very funny reflections on the experience of being very old, Alive, Alive Oh! reminds us of the joy and richness to be found at every stage of life.

Athill's signature is precise, crisp phrasing of the kind that has the reader scrabbling for something with which to underline it... Full of life in the shadow of death

Caroline Criado-Perez, Observer

A gloriously wise and knowing collection of memories... [written] with her usual clarity, frankness and unsentimentality

Danuta Kean, Independent on Sunday

A vivid sensual apprehension of physical pleasure [...] informs the best writing in this book

Evening Standard

The Author

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. She is the author of seven further volumes of memoirs, Instead of a Letter, After a Funeral, Yesterday Morning, Make Believe, Somewhere Towards the End, Alive, Alive Oh!, A Florence Diary, and a collection of letters, Instead of a Book, all published by Granta. Her only novel, Don’t Look At Me Like That, was first published in 1967. In January 2009, she won the Costa Biography Award for Somewhere Towards the End, and was presented with an OBE. She died in January 2019.

More about the author →

From the Same Author

Diana Athill on Granta.com

Fiction | Granta Books

Don’t Look at Me Like That

Diana Athill

‘When I was at school I used to think that everyone disliked me, and it wasn’t far from true.’

Essays & Memoir | Granta 69

Editing Vidia

Diana Athill

‘I thought so highly of Vidia’s writing and felt his presence on our list to be so important that I simply could not allow myself not to like him.’

Essays & Memoir | Granta 69

Lessons

Diana Athill

‘My two valuable lessons are: avoid romanticism and abhor possessiveness.’