Anyone who writes a book - what's more, an award-winning book - when they're pushing 90 deserves respect. I hope I'm as energetic as Diana Athill when I'm 89, with as many marbles as she clearly still has. And as honest as she is about her selfishness, her regrets and why she can't stand small children. I only wish I liked her more. She reminds me of one of those clever, genteel, be-cardiganed Anita Brookner heroines to whom sad things happen but for whom you don't feel much sympathy because they're not particularly lovable. That's unfair. Athill, whose editing career began at André Deutsch, never married but has had many loving relationships in her life, most memorably her close to 50-year one with Barry, who began as her lover, ran off with her friend Sally, but nevertheless ended up back in Athill's house, bedbound, with the author minding him. I could have done without her graphic descriptions of cleaning up after him and how she bashed her car reversing out of a cul-de-sac, but then old ladies, if she's anything like my mother, love embroidery. Why on earth didn't she read her spirited, no holds barred autobiography herself? Claire Bloom is - well, Claire Bloom, a wonderful actor, but that's the point. Athill is real and feisty with a great Miss Marple voice and, despite her modest words in the prologue, well up to it. So what's the secret of growing old gracefully? Luck, says Athill, and touch wood it seems to run in the family. Most of them stayed compos mentis to the end. "One relative aged 82, on his horse at a meet with the Norwich stag hounds talking to friends, went flop and fell off his horse stone dead in the middle of a laugh." That's the way to go. I'd better take up hunting.
Audiobook review: Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill
Audiobook review: Somewhere Towards the End by Diana Athill, read by Claire Bloom
Anyone who writes a book when they're pushing 90 deserves respect, says Sue Arnold
Sue Arnold is a freelance journalist and, for many years, a popular columnist for the Observer. She has been a radio critic and currently reviews audiobooks for the Guardian. Having lost her sight as a result of a medical condition, she has written about the medical use of cannabis. She is a registered blind person