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Books

Diana Athill finally accepts ‘Old Woman’ status, aged 98

Alive, Alive Oh!, Athill’s latest manifesto for living life to the full, could not be bettered

23 January 2016

9:00 AM

23 January 2016

9:00 AM

Alive, Alive Oh!: And Other Things That Matter Diana Athill

Granta Books, pp.168, £12.99, ISBN: 9781783782543

There’s something reassuring about 98-year-old Diana Athill. She’s stately and well-ordered, like the gardens at Ditchingham Hall in Norfolk, her grandparents’ Georgian house where she spent long periods of her childhood. Yes, she really is of that class, though she doesn’t trumpet it (she was presented at court in the brief reign of King Edward VIII) and, as is well known, she is of more than a certain age — born in 1917, towards the end of the first world war but, in social terms, a throwback to the Edwardian era, and half a decade before the publication of Ulysses...

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Available from the Spectator Bookshop, £10.99 Tel: 08430 600033. Andrew Lycett has written biographies of Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming, Wilkie Collins and Rudyard Kipling.

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