Saturday, 25 April 2009

Somewhere towards the end by Diana Athill

Partly a memoir, partly Athill's essays on her shifting view of life as she enters her nineties, this is an elegantly written treat. Athill's awareness of her own advantages and prejudices give a clarity to her writings that make them seem like fundamental truths. Her reflections on the changes brought by old age, and her ability to accept them, are instructive, comforting and inspiring. Because she recognises the advantages of her life - a happy childhood, a secure family life, interesting and stimulating work, late literary success - she avoids the self-satisfied air that could so easily permeate this type of work. Nor is the tone self-pitying when she describes her regrets or mistakes. Athill is very interesting about the benefits of the writing process, the effect of writing on the writer, her ideas and her approaches. This is a very satisfying read; buy a copy now while Athill is still around to spend the royalties.

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